MUNICH (Reuters) – On Saturday, China rejected the German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel's appeal to join a Cold War combat treaty, in which the United States accused Russia of violating and saying it would place unreasonable limits on the Chinese military.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during Munich's Security Conference in Munich on 16 February 2019. REUTERS / Andreas Gebert
Fear of a nuclear weapon chapel between China, Russia and the US after the collapse of the intervening Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty As the United States withdraws, Merkel made her call for a global treaty.
"Disarmament is something that worries us all, and of course we would be happy if such negotiations were held not only between the United States, Europe and Russia, but also with China," Merkel told Munich Security Conference.
Russia and the United States are the signatories of the 1987 INF Treaty, which prohibits land-based missiles with a distance between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers (300-3,400 miles), and which US President Donald Trump started six months withdrawal from that month, owe Russian violations.
Moscow denies any wrongdoing, but the United States and its NATO allies want Russia to destroy its nuclear weapons missile system, which is capable of knowing the 9M729, which Washington says could give Russia the opportunity to beat Europe with almost no warning .
Merkel's proposal to involve China in a negotiation is seen by the European NATO diplomats as a potential way out of the scene of death because a new treaty could counter American concerns about a growing military threat from China and Russia.
But China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi, who spoke about a panel in Munich, said that Chinese missiles were defensive.
"China is developing its capabilities strictly in accordance with its defensive needs and does not pose a threat to anyone else. So we are against multilateralisation of INF," he said.
China's abandoned ambition is to modernize its People's Liberation Army in 2035, improve its air force and push into new technology, including high-speed intersection missiles and artificial intelligence.
Its defense budget grew nearly six percent between 2017 and 2018, according to the London-based International Institute for Security Studies (IISS).
Retired Chinese general Yao Yunzhu told delegates that a new arms control agreement would only work if it included sea and air launched missiles as well as land, because most of China's military technology was terrestrial and the country would not want to settle at a disadvantage.
Cheaper to build, more mobile and easier to hide, terrestrial rocket launchers are an attractive opportunity for China as it develops its armed forces, experts say, while the US operates more expensive offshore systems to comply with the INF.
"China is traditionally a land force, and the Chinese military is a base force," Yao said.
"If China is to launch such negotiations, I think it should be more comprehensive to involve not only land-based, but also air and sea-based strike functions … and it would be very complicated" she said.
Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing Helen Popper