Chinese Foreign Minister Huang Hua ended talks with top American officials yesterday with no agreement or sign of progress on the contentious issue of U.S. advanced weapons sales to Taiwan.
Speaking to reporters at the State Department after a three-hour conference with Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr., Huang described the Taiwan arms issue as a "problem" in Sino-American relations. While the issue had been discussed, he said, the U.S. side had not disclosed its decision on possible sales of jet warplanes to Taiwan.
China did not make any requests for U.S. weapons in the talks, he said. Haig told reporters that no date has been set for the much-delayed trip here of Chinese Vice Chief of Staff Liu Huaquing, which is to be a major step toward the start of a Washington-Peking arms supply relationship.
Haig announced during a trip to Peking in June that the Reagan administration had decided to sell weapons to China on a case-by-case basis, and that Liu would be coming to Washington in August to pursue the details.
The trip was postponed by the Chinese, however, because of reports that the Reagan administration was considering the sale of jet warplanes to Taiwan.
Peking has made clear its strong opposition to such a move, and there have been persistent reports that it has threatened to downgrade its relations with the United States, calling home its ambassador in Washington and the Washington ambassador to Peking, if such a sale comes to pass.
It is considered unlikely that Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang would come to Washington until the Taiwan arms issue is settled. Although Zhao accepted in principle an invitation made by President Reagan during the recent Cancun summit for a Washington visit early next year, Haig said yesterday that no date was set during this week's talks for the premier's visit.
Within the administration, the nature and extent of advanced weapon sales to Taiwan is a controversial issue, largely because of the likely reaction from Peking.
Sources said a "threat assessment" of the military problems facing Taiwan is scheduled to be completed early next week as part of a round of administration policy-making on the Taiwan sales issue. The decisions on sales themselves are expected to be made by the most senior officials of the Reagan administration on a highly confidential basis.
But sources said the White House has decided that the issue will be handled as a matter of full-scale foreign policy decision-making with committees and special papers, rather than on a less-formal basis.
During his Washington visit, Huang saw President Reagan and Vice President Bush as well as Haig, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, Secretary of the Treasury Donald T. Regan and other senior officials.
Reagan discussed the Taiwan sales issue with Zhao during their meeting in Cancun, according to sources. The Chinese premier is reported to have brought up the matter but without a definitive answer from the U.S. side.
Senior administration officials have said they anticipate a decision about the arms sales to Taiwan by the end of this year.