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China: US blames INF's demise on Russia to get free hand in ramping up arms development

China is concerned about US plans to deploy intermediate-range missiles to the Asia-Pacific region, according to the diplomat
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Beijing Artyom Ivanov/TASS
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Beijing
© Artyom Ivanov/TASS

BEIJING, August 6. /TASS/. The US accused Russia of non-compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in order to get a free hand in developing weapons, Director General of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of Arms Control Fu Cong said at a special briefing on Tuesday.

"When they leave the Treaty, announce plans to conduct tests before the end of the month and talk about deploying missiles, others get the impression that the US was well prepared for the withdrawal," he added.

"This is why from our standpoint, all the talk about Russia violating the Treaty and China having no obligations under it is just an excuse for pulling out of the Treaty. The true goal of the United States’ withdrawal is to get a free hand in developing its missile capabilities," the senior Chinese diplomat pointed out.

"Not only the US accuses Russia of non-compliance, but Russia responds in kind. This is how we see the situation but I would like to refrain from commenting on the details of these accusations. However, I can say that in my opinion, there is nothing strange when two parties to a treaty have different views and different understanding of each other’s complaints. Holding dialogue and talks would be the right way to resolve the issue, not withdrawing from the treaty," Fu Cong continued.

According to him, Washington’s allegations that China is not a party to the INF and develops nuclear weapons are groundless. He pointed out that 80% of China’s nuclear potential consisted of intermediate-range missiles. "It means only one thing: these missiles cannot reach the US mainland. So the United States should be less concerned. It means, all this was only an excuse," Fu Cong explained.


View on the possibility of the US' deployment of missiles to the Asia-Pacific region

During the special briefing on Tuesday, the high-ranking Foreign Ministry official also noted that China is deeply concerned about the United States’ plans to develop intermediate-range missiles and deploy them to the Asia-Pacific region.

"We are deeply concerned about the US plans to develop and test ground-based intermediate-range missiles. In particular, we are concerned about statements made by the US administration that the US plans to deploy intermediate-range missiles to the Asia-Pacific region in the near future," Fu Cong stated.

"China deeply regrets the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty," Fu Cong went on to say. "In our view, it was another act of unilateralism and another move to abandon international obligations. It will inevitably have a negative effect on global strategic stability, as well as on peace and security in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, it will negatively tell on the arms control situation," the senior Chinese diplomat emphasized.

But if the United States does deploy ground-based intermediate-range missiles to the Asia-Pacific region, China will respond, Director General of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of Arms Control Fu Cong pledged.

"I would like to make it absolutely clear that China won’t stand aside. We will have to take retaliatory measures if the United States deploys ground-based intermediate-range missiles to this part of the world," he pointed out.

However, when asked what steps Beijing planned to take, the diplomat declined to go into detail. "I can only say — like US officials like to say — that all options will be on the table," Fu Cong noted.

"As I said, if the US deploys missiles to this part of the world, at China’s doorstep, China will have to take retaliatory measures. But as long as the US doesn’t do it, we will wait and monitor the situation. However, I would like to point out that once it happens, China will take retaliatory steps, no one should have any illusions about that," the senior diplomat emphasized.


INF Treaty issue

The INF Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, took effect on June 1, 1988. It applied to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Washington repeatedly accused Russia of violating the accord, but Moscow vehemently dismissed all accusations and, in its turn, expressed grievances over Washington’s non-compliance.

On February 1, 2019, US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the suspension of Washington’s obligations under the INF starting on February 2.

On February 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was also suspending the agreement. He handed down instructions to refrain from initiating talks with Washington on the issue and stressed that the US needed to show willingness for an equal and substantive dialogue. Putin signed a decree suspending Moscow’s compliance with the Treaty on March 4. On July 3, the head of state signed the decree into law after it had been approved by both houses of parliament.

On August 2, Washington formally withdrew from the INF and the Russian Foreign Ministry, in turn, officially confirmed that the Treaty had been terminated at the United States’ initiative.

Washington has on numerous occasions called for making a similar agreement that would involve the US, Russia and China, but Beijing has been ignoring these calls.