Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan will hold talks in Washington on Sept. 21 with Secretary of State Colin Powell, the State Department announced Thursday.

Tang's visit will set the stage for President Bush's trip to China in mid-October. Among the topics due for discussion are China's assertion that it intends to build up its nuclear forces and a U.S. complaint that a Chinese company sent missile technology to Pakistan.

A Chinese official said Wednesday the two sides soon would discuss the human rights situation in China, but it was not clear whether separate talks would be set up.

The diplomat said China intends to modernize its forces whether or not the United States follows through with development of a defense against long-range missiles.

Upgrading is a natural development along with growth of the Chinese economy, the official told reporters at the Chinese Embassy, speaking on condition of anonymity.

On Capitol Hill, also on Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said the Bush administration does not intend to condone a buildup of China's nuclear forces.

Rumsfeld disputed news reports the administration would tacitly accept such a buildup.

Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official told The Associated Press that China's forces were slated for expansion and modernization long before the Bush administration came on the scene and began talking about missile defenses.

The official said the United States can do nothing to prevent China from modernizing its strategic forces, but the Bush administration would not sit idly by if that happened.

For one thing, he said, the administration intends to enforce an agreement reached with China last November to curb the spread of missile technology.

China is thought to have about 20 long-range ballistic missiles and 100 medium-range missiles.