China has vowed to take countermeasures if the US moves ahead with plans to deploy intermediate-range, ground-based missiles on its doorstep.
The warning came after US Defense Secretary Mark Esper revealed that he was in favor of placing intermediate-range missiles in the Asia Pacific region, possibly within months.
Press TV reports: Fu Cong, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s director general for arms control department, said in a press briefing on Tuesday that China “will not stand idly by” if the US deployed missiles in Asia.
“If the US deploys missiles in this part of the world, at the doorstep of China, China will be forced to take countermeasures,” Fu said.
“I urge our neighbors to exercise prudence and not to allow the US deployment of intermediate-range missiles on their territory,” he added, mentioning Japan, South Korea, and Australia by name.
‘Everything on the table’
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in Australia on Saturday that he favored the deployment of ground-to-ground missiles in Asia possibly within months.
Fu, the Chinese Foreign Ministry official, said “everything will be on the table” in terms of how China would respond if that happened.
Beijing’s reaction came a day after Russia announced that it would adopt its own countermeasures if the US stationed land-based missiles in Asia.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday that Moscow did not intend to get sucked into an arms race with Washington but would respond defensively to such threats.
“If the deployment of new US systems begins specifically in Asia, then the corresponding steps to balance these actions will be taken by us in the direction of parrying these threats,” Ryabkov said.
On Friday, the US formally terminated a Cold War-era treaty with Russia that had banned missiles with ranges of 500-5,500 kilometers, accusing Moscow of having violated the accord by developing a certain type of missile.
Russia denied the accusation and publicized the specifications of the missile to show that it was not banned under the INF.
Shortly after the termination of the treaty, Esper, the US defense secretary, said the US had already started work to develop “mobile, conventional, ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile systems.”
“The Department of Defense will fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles as a prudent response to Russia’s actions,” he said.
Esper had said last month that abandoning the INF treaty would free up the US military “to deal with not just Russia, but China.”
Washington originally announced its decision to suspend compliance with the INF back in February, prompting Moscow to also suspend its compliance with the pact in the following month.