Wed, Aug 07, 2019 - Page 1 News List

China vows action if the US deploys missiles in Asia

‘PRUDENCE’:Beijing advised other nations, such as South Korea, not to allow the US to deploy intermediate-range weapons in their territory

AP, BEIJING

China yesterday said that it “will not stand idly by” and will take countermeasures if the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region, which Washington has said it plans to do within months.

The statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Arms Control Department Director Fu Cong (傅聰) follows the US’ withdrawal last week from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a move Fu said would have a “direct negative impact on the global strategic stability,” as well as security in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Fu said China was particularly concerned about announced plans to develop and test a land-based intermediate-range missile in the Asia-Pacific “sooner rather than later,” in the words of one US official.

“China will not stand idly by and be forced to take countermeasures should the US deploy intermediate-range ground-based missiles this part of the world,” Fu told reporters at a specially called briefing.

He also advised other nations, particularly South Korea, Japan and Australia, to “exercise prudence” and not allow the US to deploy such weapons on their territory, saying that would “not serve the national security interests of these countries.”

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in Sydney over the weekend that he wanted to deploy midrange conventional missiles in the Asia-Pacific within months.

Australian officials on Monday said that the locations for the bases were not yet known, but their country would not be one of them.

Fu said Beijing had no intention of joining nuclear weapons reduction talks with the US and Russia, pointing to the huge gap in the size of China’s arsenal compared with the other two.

China has an estimated 290 nuclear warheads deployed, compared with 1,600 for Russia and 1,750 for the US, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

China has already shown “maximum restraint” in developing its arsenal and stuck to its policy that it would not be the first to use a nuclear weapon in a conflict, Fu said.

“I don’t think it is reasonable or even fair to expect China to participate in an arms reduction negotiation at this stage,” Fu said. Fu would not elaborate on what countermeasures China was considering taking against the US, saying only that “everything is on the table,” although he did say China has never and would never take part in a nuclear arms race.

Nor would he say how China might retaliate against countries that hosted US land-based intermediate-range missiles, although it has in the past used economic means to retaliate against South Korea over its deployment of a US anti-missile defense system.

Fu dismissed US arguments for leaving the treaty as “pure pretext,” saying Washington was merely looking for an excuse to develop new weapons.

If the US truly believes Russia is cheating on the treaty, as it says, then the way forward is to negotiate rather than withdraw, Fu said.

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