Hong Kong, Feb 17 : China on Saturday rejected German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s appeal to join a Cold War-era arms control treaty and claimed that the Chinese weapons are defencive without posing any threat.
Yang Jiechi, a member of the Communist Party’s decision-making Politburo, told the Munich Security Conference in Germany " China develops its capabilities strictly according to its defencive needs and doesn’t pose a threat to anybody else.
The China aslo opposed expansion of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) between the United States and the former Soviet Union into a multilateral agreement.
Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a global medium-range treaty to take account of China’s growing missile power.
“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,” she said, South China Morning Post reported.
The INF, which bans land-based missiles with a range of between 500km (310 miles) and 5,500km, was designed to address the biggest threat to Europe from a confrontation between the cold war superpowers.
According to retired Chinese general Yao Yunzhu, most of China’s nuclear strike capability was ground-based and cutting back on land systems would put Beijing at a disadvantage.
"China is traditionally a land power. There is a big asymmetry in capabilities, she said.
“If we can’t reduce the role of nuclear weapons in national security strategies, we can’t get to a world free of nuclear weapons. Instead of joining the INF, China would abide by its “no first use” policy of restricting use of nuclear weapons to counterstrikes, a position it has held since its first successful nuclear test in 1964, she added.
Yao also said China would prefer global arms control efforts to head in this direction.
According to the Federation of American Scientists China has an estimated 270 nuclear warheads in service as of December 2017. The US and Russia each have around 4,000 nuclear warheads, while France has 290 and Britain 215.
All five nations – which are UN Security Council permanent members – have rejected calls from within the United Nations for a total ban on nuclear weapons, with China saying the weapons play an important role in stabilising the international order.