Beijing says no to Merkel arms control treaty plea

China | REUTERS 18 Feb 2019

China has rejected German Chancellor Angela Merkel's appeal to join a Cold War-era arms control treaty that the United States accuses Russia of breaching, saying it would place unfair limits on the Chinese military.

Fearing a nuclear arms race among China, Russia and the United States after the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, from which the United States is withdrawing, Merkel made her call for a global treaty.

"Disarmament is something that concerns us all and we would of course be glad if such talks were held not just between the United States, Europe and Russia but also with China," Merkel told the Munich Security Conference.

Russia and the United States are the signatories to the 1987 INF treaty that bans land-based missiles with a range between 500 kilometers and 5,500km. US President Donald Trump started a six-month withdrawal from the treaty this month, blaming Russian violations.

Moscow denies any wrongdoing, but the US and its NATO allies want Russia to destroy its 9M729 nuclear-capable cruise missile system, which Washington says could allow Russia to strike Europe with almost no warning.

But China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi, who spoke on a panel in Munich, said that Chinese missiles were defensive.

"China develops its capabilities strictly according to its defensive needs and doesn't pose a threat to anybody else. So we are opposed to the multilateralization of the INF," he said.

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