China threatened countermeasures on Tuesday if the United States deploys intermediate-range, ground-based missiles in Asia and warned U.S. allies of repercussions if they allow such weapons on their territory. The U.S. Defense Secretary, Mr. Mark Esper, had said on Saturday he was in favour of placing ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles in the region soon, possibly within months. Washington formally pulled out last week from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a 1987 pact with the former Soviet Union that banned ground-launched nuclear and conventional ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500-5,000 km.
The U.S. officials had accused Russia of not complying with the treaty but the withdrawal also allows the Pentagon to develop new weapons to counter China, which boasts an increasingly sophisticated land-based missile force. Beijing was not a party to the deal and refused to join. Mr. Fu Cong, director general of the arms control department at China’s foreign ministry, said Beijing 'will not stand idly by' and watch the US base missiles in Asia. 'If the U.S. deploys missiles in this part of the world, at the doorstep of China, China will be forced to take countermeasures,' Mr. Fu said ominously.
'I urge our neighbours to exercise prudence and not to allow the U.S. deployment of intermediate-range missiles on their territory,' he said. He specifically mentioned Japan, South Korea, and Australia, warning it would not serve their national security interests. Mr. Fu did not specify how China would respond but said 'everything will be on the table' if U.S. allies made allowances for the missiles. He also reiterated that China had no interest in taking part in any trilateral talks with the US and Russia to come to new terms on such weapons.