WASHINGTON, D.C.: Defense Secretary William Perry suggested Wednesday that China tone down "menacing military maneuvers" near rival Taiwan, the Pentagon's second remark in 24 hours on a situation that Washington hopes will cool before it gets truly hot. "It is in the interests both of the Chinese and Taiwanese to resolve their differences peacefully," Perry told a group of students. Tuesday, a Pentagon spokesman said that Beijing, which already has conducted a missile test near Taiwan last fall, had sent an unspecified number of Chinese troops and military equipment toward the Chinese coast opposite the island. Even so, China's relatively meager forces are unlikely to make the crossing. "Logic works against an invasion," says Defense correspondent Mark Thompson. "China is not a 'blue water' navy; their military is not suited to invade an island 100 miles offshore. The mainland is driven by public opinion, but if the Chinese government would temper its remarks, the public opinion might subside, and then we could get past this sticking point."
Your Papers, PleaseDiplomatic niceties between the nations have been far between since Washington infuriated Beijing last June by allowing the Taiwanese president to visit his American alma mater. For one, China recalled its U.S. ambassador and stopped speaking to his American counterpart. Wednesday, however, former Tennessee Senator Jim Sasser presented his credentials to President Jiang Zemin in a brief ceremony marking his posting to the Chinese capital. Like President Clinton, Sasser is expected to stress to least controversial issue now confronting the powers: how to keep bilateral business bustling.