China: Don’t politicise Turkey missile deal

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 9:39pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 9:39pm

China said on Friday that a controversial proposal to sell a Chinese missile defence system to US ally and Nato member Turkey should not be politicised. The call came a day after a US diplomat expressed concerns over the deal.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters that the deal constituted “normal arms trade co-operation” and should be viewed “rationally and objectively”.

“Don’t politicise the relevant normal commercial competition,” Hua said at a regularly scheduled news conference.

Hua’s comments followed remarks on Thursday by the US ambassador to Turkey that the United States had concerns about the Chinese system’s compatibility with Nato’s missile and air defence systems.

Francis Ricciardone said the US has begun consultations with Turkey on the issue.

Turkey’s announcement last month that it would begin talks with the China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corporation on the deal worth US$3.44 billion surprised many and strained relations between Turkey and its Nato allies.

The Chinese company has been sanctioned by the US under its Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act. The agreement to hold talks puts it at the top of a shortlist, although Turkish officials have said that the deal is not yet final.

Based on Russian technology, China’s FD-2000 system is in competition with the US Patriot PAC-3, Russia’s S-400 and the Italian-French SAMP/T Aster 30. Turkey plans for a co-production agreement call for as many as four missile firing units and 288 surface-to-air interceptor missiles.

Turkish officials said China offered the best price as well as co-production arrangements, and said a deal could be signed in six months, with delivery within four years.

According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, US and Nato concerns appear to centre on the need to develop new hardware and software to allow the Chinese system’s integration with the Nato ballistic missile defence system and other units that protect Turkey.

Data would have to be exchanged to allow inter-operability, raising the possibility of China accessing Nato secrets, the Washington, DC-based centre said.

In recent years, China has gone from importing large amounts of Russian weaponry to competing for overseas markets, mainly by offering cheaper prices and easy financing.

Sweden’s Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported in March that China had overtaken Britain as the world’s fifth-largest arms exporter over the five-year period from 2008 to last year.