China Fearing US Domination In Post-Cold War World, Analysts Says
Beijing (AFP) Dec 16, 2001
The US decision to unilaterally pull out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty represents for China its worst fears that the world's remaining superpower intends to dominate the post-Cold War period, analysts said.
US President George W. Bush's decision on Thursday to pull out of "the cornerstone of global strategic balance" will lead China to further modernize its strategic arsenal and strengthen Beijing's efforts with Moscow to oppose Washington's "hegemonic" aspirations, they said.
"The world should prepare for a uni-polar world order and a unilateral US global strategy," Yan Xuetong, head of the Institute of International Studies at Tsinghua University, told AFP.
"The US is the world's only superpower, pulling out of the ABM shows that they know they don't need to care about what others say," he said.
Moderate responses from Russia and China to Thursday's announcement reflected a "realization that they cannot change the US decision," Yan said.
Following the decision, Chinese President Jiang Zemin pledged to hold multi-lateral consultations to maintain the strategic balance and the international arms control regime, while the foreign ministry urged the US to reconsider its withdrawal.
If Washington goes ahead with its withdrawal and its plan to build a national missile defense shield, China would have no alternative but modernize its limited nuclear arsenal in an effort to maintain its "strategic credibility," Yan said.
"This won't be an arms race, it will only be an attempt to not allow the US to get too far ahead," he said.
China only has some 20 ballistic missiles capable of hitting the United States, but that could increase 10-fold if Beijing had significant reasons to upgrade its nuclear forces, Western diplomats here said.
The proposed US missile shield is an unproven system aimed at defending the United States against ballistic missile attack. The system would not have been legal under the guidelines of the ABM treaty and is central to the US announced withdrawal from the pact.
Like other major powers, the move will also force China to rethink its commitments to several other global arms accords, including the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and a treaty prohibiting the militarization of space, Yan said.
"On the issue of the CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty), China will wait and see how negotiations with the US develop, but I don't think China will pull out of its commitments to the CTBT," he said.
Relations with the US on the issue of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction would continue to be difficult, he said.
"On the issue of Taiwan, it will totally depend on what (weapons) technology the United States continues to supply Taiwan with, if Taiwan becomes a part of the missile defense system then we will have a big problem," Yan said.
Taiwan and the mainland split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, but Beijing has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan if it declares independence.
Although Washington has no official diplomatic ties with Taipei and subscribes to Beijing's "One China" policy, it is a strong supporter of Taiwan and the US president is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Avis Bohlen headed for China on Friday, US officials in Washington announced. She is expected to begin consultations this week.
China's strategic partnership with Russia, aimed at "building a multi-polar post-Cold War world" will only get stronger with the US withdrawal from the ABM treaty, David Zweig, political scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology said.
"The US withdrawal should strengthen the multi-polar world," Zweig said.
"If Russia is closer to the US, then it makes for a more hegemonic world, so the US pull out of the ABM will push Russia closer to China and strengthen the other pole."
China normalized relations with Russia almost immediately after the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991 and by 1995 the two neighboring giants agreed to form a strategic partnership which has largely been seen as opposing US power in the post-Cold War world.
The Bush administration's decision to go ahead with the missile shield could also bring Beijing and Tokyo a step closer, especially if Japan's anti-nuclear peace movement can coalesce with growing calls for an independent Japanese security regime, Zweig said.
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Bush Announces US Withdrawal From ABM Treaty
President George W. Bush announced Thursday that the United States is pulling out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, over Russia's objections, in order to deploy a missile defense system. "I have concluded the ABM treaty hinders our government's ability to develop ways to protect our people from future terrorist or rogue state missile attacks," Bush announced in the White House Rose Garden.