Possible missile deployment raising concerns in Asia-Pacific, Beijing says
The United States' intention to deploy new missiles in the Asia-Pacific region has raised concerns, and China will take countermeasures if necessary, the Foreign Ministry and experts said.
Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, said China will not "sit idly by" and watch its interests being compromised if the U.S. deploys intermediate-range missiles in the region.
She said China "will not allow any country to stir up trouble on our doorstep" and "will take all necessary measures to safeguard national security interests" in a statement published on the ministry's website late on Monday.
The comments came days after the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed with the Soviet Union in 1987, which banned land-based missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.
Following the withdrawal, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said over the weekend that he wanted to deploy midrange conventional missiles in the Asia-Pacific within months.
Hua warned that international and regional security will be severely undermined if the U.S. insists on the deployment.
"For a long time, the U.S. has been grossly interfering in the affairs of regional countries in the Asia-Pacific," she said.
"Politically, it has tried to drive a wedge between them by promoting a so-called Indo-Pacific strategy. It has adopted a selfish, beggar-thy-neighbor approach in economic affairs while making military deployment and strengthening military allies in the region."
The U.S. has been shifting blame by using China as an excuse on issues including the INF Treaty and hyping up the so-called China missile threat in disregard of the facts, Hua said.
"Despite strong international opposition, the U.S. chose to withdraw from the INF Treaty. Now it is hastily seeking to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Asia. This, in fact, reveals the real intention of the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty," she added.
Experts also worried that such a move would threaten the peaceful development of and break the balance in the area.
Fan Jishe, an arms control expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of American Studies, said the security concerns of Asia-Pacific countries may supersede other concerns once the U.S. starts to deploy new missiles, undermining the peace and stability in the region.
Asia-Pacific countries have attached great importance to economic cooperation for a long time, Fan said. "However, the U.S. deployment plan indicates that its military strategy center is moving to the Asia-Pacific region, making safety concerns a priority among the related parties."
Zuo Xiying, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China, said the U.S. intention may cause changes in the strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific, breaking the existing strategic equilibrium as well as exacerbating the arms race.
On the other hand, Zuo said it would take a relatively long time to reach a new balance if the deployment proceeds.
"Before there is a new strategic balance, the overall security situation in the Asia-Pacific region may have more uncertainty, affecting all related stakeholders, including China, the U.S. and Japan."
On Monday, Australia ruled out the possibility of missiles being deployed in its territory, saying that Canberra had not been asked to host them.
Fan called the U.S. announcement "a typical way for Washington to force other countries to fulfill what it wants", and said China will not join negotiations for a new INF treaty or accept its multilateralization.