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Rice warns Europe on weapons sales to China

BEIJING -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sternly warned European allies yesterday that they ''should do nothing" that alters the military balance of power in Asia through sales of sophisticated weapons to China, suggesting that such arms ultimately could be directed at Americans.

''It is the United States, not Europe, that has defended the Pacific," Rice said at a news conference in Seoul before she flew to Beijing for talks with Chinese officials. Later, she attended church service at a government-sanctioned church.

The European Union had seemed all but certain this year to lift an embargo on weapons sales imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre of democracy demonstrators. US officials have expressed dismay over the decision, especially after China passed a law this month authorizing the use of force against Taiwan if it moves toward formal independence. Rice also held talks this weekend in Japan and South Korea, both of which fear China will improve its military capabilities.

Rice cited US concerns about the rise of Chinese military spending and the increasing sophistication of Chinese military power. ''The European Union should do nothing to contribute to a circumstance in which Chinese military modernization draws on European technology or even the political decision to suggest that it could draw on European technology," she said.

Hours after Rice made her statement, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of Britain said in London that rising tensions between China and Taiwan have made it harder to lift the embargo.

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