No U.S. missiles in region: ChinaChina expressed clear opposition to the possible deployment of U.S. intermediate-range missiles to Korea or Japan at a trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting in Beijing on Wednesday.
According to a press release on the results of the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono during their bilateral talks that Beijing “strongly opposed attempts by the United States to deploy intermediate-range missiles to the Asia Pacific region.” He followed this up with similar remarks to Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha the same day.
Stressing that China would firmly maintain its “defensive security policy,” Wang said at the trilateral meeting that the three Asian neighbors should “respect each other’s core interests” and “properly handle problems” arising from bilateral differences, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.
“Passing one’s outrage onto others is good for no-one, and promoting confrontation by adhering to a Cold War mind-set leads to mutual failure,” he added.
These remarks, while serving as a call for Seoul and Tokyo to resolve their ongoing diplomatic friction, are believed to be aimed at deterring the two countries from acquiescing to U.S. plans to deploy intermediate-range missiles to their territories.
After Washington withdrew from a treaty banning the use of intermediate-range missiles with Russia earlier this month, its Pentagon chief, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, told reporters that he wanted to deploy an intermediate-range conventional missile in the Asia Pacific region in a matter of months.
Citing a military threat stemming from Beijing’s growing stockpile of weapons, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, too, hinted at the idea of deploying American missiles to friendly territory in Asia in an interview with Fox News earlier this month.
China responded to these intentions with alarm, issuing a statement from its Foreign Ministry on Aug. 6 that it would “not stand idly by and will be forced to take countermeasures if the United States deploys intermediate-range ground-based missiles in this part of the world.”
The statement also made clear Beijing had no intention to comply with U.S. President Donald Trump’s pursuit of a trilateral arms control treaty between the United States, Russia and China, coming amid concerns voiced by intelligence officials in Washington that China is likely to double its nuclear weapons arsenal in the next decade.
On Tuesday, China and Russia accused the United States of prompting a new arms race with its test of a new cruise missile on Monday, and called upon the United Nations Security Council to meet over U.S. plans to develop and deploy medium-range missiles.
The Pentagon on Monday announced it had successfully tested a nuclear-capable Tomahawk cruise missile with a range of over 500 kilometers (311 miles). Another test for an intermediate-range ballistic missile is scheduled for November, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Such weapons had been banned from service after former U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty with the Soviet Union in 1987.
The Trump administration, however, made clear it would be scrapping the pact in February, citing Russia’s noncompliance to the agreement.
Analysts, however, have pointed out that another key reason for the withdrawal from the pact was that it did not pertain to China, whose growing military strength and muscle-flexing in Asia over the past years have raised flags among defense planners in Washington.
With Beijing again raising issue with the United States’ deployment of the terminal high altitude area defense antimissile system to Korea in its defense white paper last month, Seoul may again find itself stuck between a rock and a hard place if Washington attempts to dispatch its missiles to Korea.
BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [firstname.lastname@example.org]