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Briefing by Mr. FU Cong,
Director General of the Department of Arms Control and
Disarmament of Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2019/08/06

Beijing, 6 August 2019

I. Opening remarks by Mr. FU Cong

Good morning everybody, first let me thank you for attending today's briefing, and thank you for showing interest to China's position on arms control related issues, so the main topic for today's briefing is the U.S. withdrawal from the INF treaty, first please allow me to make a few brief points before taking questions.

The first point I want to make is that China expresses deep regret over the U.S.'s withdrawal from the treaty, and this is, in our view, another act of unilateralism, another withdrawal from the international obligations. The U.S. withdrawal will inevitably have a direct negative impact on global strategic stability,on peace and security in Europe and Asia-Pacific region, as well as the international arms control regime.

The second point I want to make is that we are very much concerned about the announced plans by the U.S. to develop and test land-based intermediate-range missiles. We are in particular, concerned about the remarks made by some of the senior officials of the U.S. Administration, saying that the U.S. is planning to deploy intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region "sooner rather than later". And in that respect, we call on the U.S. to exercise restraint. And I also want to make it absolutely clear that China will not stand idly by and will be forced to take counter measures if the U.S. deploys intermediate-range ground-based missiles in this part of the world. And we also called on our neighboring countries to exercise prudence and not to allow U.S. deployment on its territory, because that will not serve the national security interests of these countries.

The third point I want to make is that China has no interest in participating in the so-called trilateral nuclear arms reduction negotiations with the U.S. and Russia. China pursues a peaceful foreign policy and defensive defense policy. And China sticks to the policy of no first use of nuclear weapons. And over the decades, China has exercised maximum restraint in the development of its nuclear capabilities. Given the huge gap between nuclear arsenal of China and those of the U.S. and the Russian Federation, I do not think it is reasonable or even fair to expect China to participate in any nuclear reduction negotiations at this stage. It's a consensus view of the international community that being the biggest possessors of nuclear weapons, the U.S. and the Russian Federation bear special and primary responsibilities on nuclear disarmament. It is also the view of the international community that the U.S. and Russia should maintain the existing arms control treaties, and on that basis, continue to further cut their huge nuclear arsenals, so as to create conditions for other countries to participate in this process.

These are my opening remarks. Now the floor is open for questions.

II. Q&A Section

Q: I wonder if you have some comment on this: Some people think China 'hypocritical' because China does not want to participate in negation of trilateral treaty while it has been pointed that Chinese missiles are put in the two disputed regions in the South China Sea. So some people might see China's actions as hypocritical. How do you response?

A: I don't think it's correct to call China's actions or rhetorics as 'hypocritical'. I strongly object to that. I think there is one fundamental difference when it comes to the deployment of missiles. Indeed, China possess an arsenal of intermediate-range missiles, and that is part of the Chinese military capabilities. But all these missiles are based on the territory of China. But when it comes to the deployment by the U.S., it is important to bear in mind that the U.S. is talking about the deployment of intermediate range missiles overseas --- They are not talking about deploying those missiles on their own territories. So in our case, our missile capabilities are for defensive purposes only, while for the U.S., because of the forward deployment, these missiles are offensive in nature, and when it comes to the trilateral negotiations, as I said in my opening remarks, there is a huge gap between the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. or Russia and China. So how can you expect a country like China possessing such a small arsenal to participate in the nuclear reduction dialogue? And that is also, let me remind you, is the position of France and UK, and I don't know whether you would call that 'hypocritical'. Thank you.

Q: Follow-up: But China appeared to be deploying forward overseas, according to some U.S. Commissions saying that China is deploying missiles on islands that are regarded as disputed waters -- but China does not see those islands as disputed territory . What do you think of that?

A: You know the Chinese position is that those are not disputed territories. China deploys missiles or whatever military capabilities on Chinese territory. I don't know how other countries can challenge that.

You mentioned the U.S. deployment. You should understand, the U.S. is talking about forward deployment, that is, deploying missiles at the doorsteps of China, which I think is the point that people need to bear in mind. For a country that has experienced a Cuban missile crisis, I think the American people would understand how China would feel when the U.S. deploys missiles at China's doorsteps. Thank you.

Q: I wonder how China comments on the U.S.'s withdrawal of Iranian nuclear accord? How does China react to the U.S. actions?

A: Thank you for mentioning the JCPOA. Actually, as I said in my opening remarks, this is another withdrawal from its international obligations by the U.S. Administration. I will give you another example, which is the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and also further to that, the ABM Treaty as well. So the U.S. is fundamentally shaking the basis of the arms control regime that the international community has built up over the decades, and this is a very dangerous move. As I said, if the U.S. deploys missiles in this part of the world at China's doorsteps, China will be forced to take countermeasures. But since the U.S has not done that yet, so we will take a wait-and-see attitude, but you can rest assured that should once that happen, China will take countermeasures. I think nobody should have any illusions about that, and I can't be more specific than that at this stage.

Q: Can you give us some more details on what are the 'countermeasures'? And secondly, what are the conditions for China to take part in the negotiation for a possible trilateral negotiation ?

A:As to your first question, I can't give any specifics as to what countermeasures China is going to take, but as I said, you can rest assure that China will take countermeasures. As to the second question, China is not prepared to participate in the trilateral negotiation, but that does not mean China is not participating in the international nuclear disarmament efforts. For instance, China participated in the negotiation of the CTBT, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which is another treaty that is endangered by some of the U.S. moves.

And also China is actively participating in the discussions at the Conference on Disarmament, and in the UN framework. So China is participating in lots of multilateral discussions and negotiations when it comes to disarmament, nuclear disarmament in particular. And another mechanism I want to mention is the P5 mechanism-- China, Russia, U.S., UK, France, as the five nuclear-weapon-states recognized by the NPT. We have consultations on a regular basis, and some very important issues are being discussed, for instance, the strategic stability, and also nuclear doctrines, and these are the very useful discussions, which, to a very large extent, were initiated by China. China is not an obstacle to the multilateral discussions on the nuclear disarmament, but as I said, because of the huge gap between the nuclear weapons of China and those of the United States and the Russian Federation, we don't think now is the time for China to join the U.S. and the Russian Federation in nuclear reduction negotiations.

Q: I have got what you said. We know that several days ago, the U.S. president addressed that he spoke to both of Russia and China to reach an agreement on this. And both countries were very excited. Now was the U.S. President has a wrong understanding. What's your point?

A:I don't want to say whether the U.S. President is right or wrong on that, but I can say what the Chinese position is. China's position is, as I've outlined in my opening remarks, China has no interest, and frankly, we don't think we are even in a position to participate in the trilateral negotiation on nuclear arms reduction.

Q: Thank you. According to the U.S., Russia has been cheating on the treaty and 80%-90% of China's missile inventory falls within the range covered by the INF, that is 500km-5500km range, and therefore it's unfair that only the U.S should be held to the terms of those restrictions. How do you respond to that?

A: So actually, your question consists of two parts, one is about the U.S. allegation that Russia is cheating, and I don't want to comment on that, because Russia is in a better position to defend its position and defend its interests, but we have taken note of the fact that the two sides have been accusing each other of violating the treaty. It is not only that the U.S. accused the Russian Federation of violating the treaty, the Russian side was also doing the same, and that is how we see the situation, but I don't want to comment on the specifics of the allegations. What I want to say here is that I think it is not uncommon for two parties to the treaty to have different interpretations and different understandings of the other side's compliance. The correct way to resolve this is through consultation and negotiation, not by withdrawing from the treaty. That is the point people need to bear in mind, and by withdrawing from the treaty, and immediately afterwards announcing the plans to test even before the end of this month and talking about deployment already, people have the feeling that the U.S. is "well prepared" to withdraw from the treaty. So all these things, "Russian's violation" or "China not being bound by the treaty", in our view, are pure pretexts for the U.S withdrawal. The real purpose of the U.S. withdrawal is, many experts said, to free its hand and develop its missile capabilities.

As to the point that 80% or more of the Chinese nuclear forces are intermediate-range, I think this is a very interesting issue. Without commenting on the specific configuration of the Chinese nuclear arsenal, I would say that, what does that mean, 80% of the Chinese nuclear forces being intermediate-range? That means basically one thing, those missiles cannot reach the homeland of the U.S., so the U.S. should have the least to worry about if that is the case, right? So that shows that all this is nothing but a pretext. And the U.S. have thousands of intercontinental range nuclear missiles, they are concerned about a few missiles which can not reach its territory! Where is the logic? I don't see the logic here. So, in our view, this is nothing more than a pretext on the part of the U.S..

Q: Sorry to have a word again. Some commentators thought that the U.S. withdrawal will lead to a global arms race and expansion of nuclear weapons, is China prepared to expand nuclear arsenals?

A:Let me say this, China has never participated in a nuclear arms race, and China will not participate in any nuclear arms race. This has been clearly laid out in the newly published White Paper on the Chinese National Defense, and so this policy will remain, and we will never aspire to reach the level that the U.S. and the Russian Federation have reached at this stage when it comes to the nuclear weapons. Thank you.

Q: Chinese missiles can get long, while the U.S. does not have a right to put military deployments on its extended territory like Guam?

A:Of course the U.S. has the right to defend its territory, but we need to be clear that when Guam is at the doorsteps of China, it is very close to China. And when we talk about the military capabilities, we should not only concentrate on the land based missiles. It is not as if the U.S military strength is at a disadvantage in this part of the world. On the contrary, the U.S. has an overwhelming military superiority over any potential opponent in this region. For instance, they have superiority in sea-based and air-launched missiles. So when we talk about the military capabilities, we should not only concentrate on the land-based missiles.

Given the U.S. superiority in other categories of weaponry that are based or can be based in this part of the world, in addition to that, if you put more missiles,on a piece of land like Guam, it is going to be viewed as a very provocative action on the part of the U.S and can be very dangerous. As I have said, China will be forced to take countermeasures and that would not be in the interest of any country's security.

Q: Just a comment on the specifics of the countermeasures, could you give us an idea on what countermeasures China would employ?

A:I can only say what the American government often says, i.e., everything is on the table.

Q: If American allies such as Korea or Japan agreed to place this kind of missiles ,what measures China will take?

A:As I said, everything will be on the table, so I can't be very specific. And as I said in my opening remarks, I urge our neighbors to exercise prudence and not to allow the U.S. to deploy intermediate-range missiles on their territories. I think that is a very important message that I want to convey to the people of Japan and the people of South Korea and other countries as well, for instance, Australia.

Q: Just a clarification that China does not have interest in triangle negotiation, include STARTII treaty or successive to the New STARTII treaty?

A:That is a correct interpretation of what I said. Yes, China will not participate in new treaty negotiations following the new START.

Okay, thank you very much. Thank you.

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