It would not be in China’s interests to join or salvage the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a cold war-era missile pact with Russia that the United States is abandoning, according to Chinese military experts. At the Munich Security Conference on the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged China to be involved in international disarmament efforts, commenting on the US withdrawal by saying “disarmament is something that concerns us all”. However, Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi, who also attended the security conference, signalled that China had no plans to save the arms control treaty with a firm insistence that Beijing was “opposed to the multilateralisation of the INF”. With cold war arms treaty dead, Russia eyes new missile systems to counter United States by 2021 The pact was signed more than three decades ago between the US and the then Soviet Union but US President Donald Trump started the six-month withdrawal from it this month, citing Russian violations. Moscow has denied any wrongdoing. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the treaty had played a big role in safeguarding the global strategic balance and stability, and China was opposed to the US withdrawal. “China ... urges the US and Russia to properly resolve differences through constructive dialogue,” Geng said. Despite Beijing’s support for the pact, China is unlikely to join it because the INF is concerned mostly about land-based missiles, making little mention of the sea and air-launched weapons that Russia and the US have at their disposal, according to retired Chinese general Yao Yunzhu. “Most of China’s nuclear strike capacity is land-based,” Yao said. “There is a significant asymmetry in strengths [between China and the US and Russia].” She said the INF was designed to reduce the risks of nuclear attack on Europe during the cold war, and did not address the security concerns of Asia and the Pacific. “Nuclear weapons play an important role in [China’s] national security strategies and international stability,” Yao said. A Russian observer, who declined to be named, agreed that nuclear deterrence was a central element of China’s national security strategy and there was little incentive for it to cut back on its missile stockpile, which in 2017 was an estimated 270 nuclear warheads. That total is a fraction of the roughly 4,000 warheads that the US and Russia are thought to have each but China’s nuclear programme has made gains in recent years. Next stop Guam? China shows off its next generation DF-41 and DF-26 ballistic missiles On Tuesday, the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force launched its social media accounts with a video clip of its Dongfeng series of missiles, including ones that would fall within the range of the INF. “We will strike whoever violates China from afar,” the video said. “The Dongfeng Express always accomplishes its mission.” US officials, including Harry Harris, the former head of US forces in the Pacific, have warned for years that the Pentagon cannot match the growing sophistication of China’s land-based missile forces because of the INF’s restrictions. The PLA Rocket Force has several land-based ballistic missiles in service ranging from 500km to 5,000km. Some are nuclear-capable, and some can also strike large vessels in addition to ground targets.