China and Russia call on US to abandon Asia-Pacific, Europe missile plans
- American push to deploy the weapons in the region and Europe will increase distrust, Beijing and Moscow say in joint stand
- Call signals a regression in arms control but unlikely to have much of an effect, analyst says
The two countries said the US’ accelerated development of intermediate- and shorter-range ground-based missiles and desire to deploy them in the Asia-Pacific and Europe would increase “tension and distrust [and] increase risks to international and regional security”.
“The two sides will continue to maintain contacts and strengthen coordination on this issue,” the statement said, adding they were concerned about US plans to deploy an anti-ballistic missile defence system around the world.
It was also concerned that China was not party to the agreement and so able to develop missiles banned in the treaty.
Under the treaty, the US nor Russia should not have land-based missiles with a range within 500-5,500km (300-3,400 miles).
The US says such weapons would put US allies in the Indo-Pacific region and Guam within range from China.
In March last year, the then head of US Indo-Pacific Command Philip Davidson said long-range missiles and missile defences were needed in the region in face of threats posed by China and an increased investment was necessary.
Wu Riqiang, an associate professor of international studies at Renmin University, said potential US missile deployments in the Asia-Pacific and Europe were manageable military threats to China and Russia, but showed a backslide in international arms control.
“It was a pity the US withdrew from the INF in 2019. It signals a regression in arms control. But the call from China and Russia might have little impact on the US’ future moves,” he said.
Yue Gang, a retired PLA colonel and military affairs commentator, said the US should take the call seriously to avoid a missile arms race between the three countries.
Both China and Russia are using the summit, held on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics, to help offset the US’ network of alliances.
The two nations said they opposed expansion of Nato – a key Russian concern in the crisis with Ukraine, describing it as a cold war approach to international affairs. Russia also reaffirmed that Taiwan was an integral part of China and it opposed Taiwanese independence in any form.
The two countries also called upon states to uphold the Chemical Weapons Convention, which has been in effect since 1997 and prohibits the development and use of chemical weapons.
“Russia and China insist that the United States, as the sole state party to the convention that has not yet completed the process of eliminating chemical weapons, accelerate the elimination of its stockpiles of chemical weapons,” the statement said.
The US has destroyed 96.5 per cent of its category 1 chemical weapons stockpile and all of its category 2 and 3 weapons as of May last year, according to The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which implements the convention. The country aims to destroy the remaining weapons by late 2023.
Yue said all countries shared the responsibility to disarm, and slow progress by certain nations could lead to the re-emergence of chemical weapons.
“The hidden danger is that some countries might try to regain control over chemical weapons,” he said.
China and Russia also said they “oppose attempts by some states to turn outer space into an arena of armed confrontation” and would do all to prevent the weaponisation of space and an arms race there.
Wu said unrestricted development of an anti-ballistic missile defence system could push China and Russia into creating more counter weapons, while outer space militarisation could affect countries that were keen on peaceful uses of space.
“The US has far stronger capabilities in space arms than China and Russia,” Wu said. “The two countries can only follow suit and develop their own capabilities in response, given space arms control is almost impossible.
“Weaponising space is irreversible and tragic – it destroys the prospects for countries to peacefully use space. It does no good.”