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Controversy in Asia over US theater missile defense system; China: Plan threat to world peace. Proposal will affect global strategic balance

The Straits Times, 22 February 2001

BEIJING - Chinese President Jiang Zemin has denounced US plans for a missile defence shield and warned that Washington's dominance in global affairs has left the world unbalanced.

In comments to German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping, Mr Jiang called the missile shield plan a threat to world peace and development.

The national missile defence system could 'sabotage global strategic balance and stability and insert adverse impact into the international arms control and disarmament process', he said.

'The force of one single pole cannot achieve balance and only the combination of multi-polars can ensure equilibrium,' he added.

Proceeding from historic, realistic, economic, cultural and scientific perspectives, the European Union should be a major polar in the world, he said.

Along with Russia, China has vociferously condemned US plans for a missile defence umbrella.

China fears missile defence could be extended to cover Taiwan, frustrating its plans to assert control over the island it considers a breakaway province.

Germany is among US allies who have expressed reservations about missile defence and has urged Washington not to proceed without consultations with other nations.

Mr Scharping's visit comes on the heels of a trip to Moscow earlier this month by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer during which missile defence also featured prominently.

The visiting defence minister on Monday told Mr Zhang Wannian, deputy chairman of a Communist Party commission which governs the army, that Germany wants to expand security cooperation with China, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said.

China is willing to discuss missile defence with all nations, including the United Sates, but preservation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Defence Treaty should be at the core of any discussion, Mr Zhu said.

US development of a missile defence system would require amending or scrapping the treaty.

'We always maintained that the question of missile proliferation should be resolved on the basis of diplomatic and political means,' Mr Zhu said. --AP,Xinhua