China Challenges Any Missile-Treaty Changes



China Challenges Any Missile-Treaty Changes

06/09/00 12:14:31 PM U.S. EDT

BEIJING (AP)--China accused the United States of “selfishness” Friday for seeking to revise a key arms control treaty, saying Washington’s bid to allow an anti-missile defense system would undermine global security.

Joining forces on the issue, Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed their shared opposition to revisions of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty in a telephone conversation Thursday.

Lead arms negotiator Sha Zukang said that any revision to the ABM treaty would “seriously hinder nuclear disarmament” and would trigger a global arms race in space, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

Sha contended that revising the treaty out of “selfishness” would endanger world security and undermine U.S. interests. The United States should “think carefully before taking any action” so as to not “lift a rock only to drop it on its toes,” Xinhua cited Sha as saying in an exclusive interview.

Washington wants to revise the treaty to allow the development of a new missile defense system that Beijing fears might be used to defend Taiwan, which China views as a part of its territory that must be united with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Inclusion of Taiwan in such a system “seriously infringes on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and is a gross interference into China’s internal affairs--something the Chinese people will never allow,” Sha was cited as saying.

The United States contends a missile defense system is necessary to counter the threat of rogue states. Beijing argues that it would merely expand the arms race into space. “If the plan is carried out, space will become a new weapons base and battlefield,” Sha said, adding that other world powers would not just “sit and look on unconcernedly.”

The dispute is likely to come up in China-U.S. arms control talks due to resume in July following a hiatus after Beijing suspended contacts with Washington on a range of topics in retaliation for the bombing of its Belgrade embassy on May 7, 1999. The formal resumption of arms control negotiations would leave human rights as the only issue that China has still refused to discuss with Washington since the bombing.

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