US Missile Defense Compromises Global Security
Tang Jiaxuan is the foreign minister of China. He wrote
this article exclusively for NPQ's weekly column with the Los Angeles
Times Syndicate, Global Viewpoint.
Beijing-There is no doubt that each and
every state has the right to seek its security and that the government
of each state has the obligation to protect its nationals. However, how
to exercise this right and acquire security in its real sense is a question
worth serious deliberation.
As the process of globalization develops, countries and nations are becoming
increasingly interdependent. This is as true in the security area as it
Security is mutual and indivisible. No country can exist in isolation
from the international community, nor can it resolve all the security
issues it faces single-handedly. Inevitably, the way a country seeks security
will affect the security of others and entail necessary reactions on the
part of these countries.
Thus, while seeking its own security, a country should consider whether
the relevant measures help increase universal security. A country can
acquire security in the true sense only when it builds its own security
on the universal security of all countries and on the extensive cooperation
of the international community. A military edge cannot guarantee security.
Unilateralism at the expense of other countries' security will only lead
to greater insecurity.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles is a very
complex problem that can be tackled only through global cooperation. To
set up a national missile defense system, or NMD, will not contribute
to solving this problem, but only further aggravate it.
Since the end of the Cold War, the international community has made considerable
progress in nonproliferation. The United States and Russia reached a series
of agreements on nuclear disarmament, the Chemical Weapons Convention
entered into effect, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
was extended indefinitely, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was concluded.
Along with the Biological Weapons Convention, agreed upon in the 1970s,
this shows that the final goal of eliminating weapons of mass destruction
is not beyond reach.
Thanks to the concerted efforts of the international community, the proliferation
momentum in missiles has to a large extent also been checked. And there
are a number of proposals that promise wider international cooperation
in this field.
It is therefore neither wise nor advisable to build a so-called missile
defense system, whose effect is questionable, at the expense of compromising
or even quitting the international arms control and nonproliferation system
after so many years' efforts, including by the US.
There are some people who describe the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as
part of the "Cold-War mentality" and hold that it should be
discarded. This view is neither fair nor just. It is a fact that the ABM
Treaty was concluded during the Cold War period. However, like all the
other arms control treaties, it reflects the interdependent relationship
among contracting parties in security matters. Such a relationship did
not disappear with the end of the Cold War, but rather is becoming even
stronger in the era of globalization. The ABM Treaty is self-evidently
effective. It is not outdated.
Just as the ABM Treaty cannot be viewed in isolation, neither can a US
missile defense program. Offense and defense are always indivisible. Enhanced
defensive capabilities, to a large degree, mean improved offensive capabilities
This is particularly true for the US, the only superpower. The US possesses
the biggest nuclear arsenal and the most sophisticated conventional weapons
in the world, and it pursues a nuclear deterrence policy based on first
use of nuclear weapons. A missile defense will thus become a multiplier
for US offensive weapons. It will severely impede the nuclear disarmament
process between the US and Russia, and indeed the world at large, and
will render any US initiative on the reduction of offensive nuclear weapons
People cannot but ask what on earth is the real intention behind US insistence
on developing a missile defense system in defiance of the international
community? Is it really to defend against the missile threat from the
few so-called "problem states," or for greater military advantages
over other big countries?
Located in the Asia-Pacific, China is naturally concerned about security
in this region. Recently there has been relaxation of tensions in the
area, particularly in northeastern Asia, and major progress has been made
in the settlement of the missile issue. All parties should cherish this
hard-won state of affairs and create conditions for continued relaxation.
To introduce the theater missile defense (TMD) in the region will only
add new, complex and confrontational factors to the detriment of regional
peace and stability.
There are people in the US who clamorously advocate incorporating Taiwan
into the US TMD system or providing anti-missile weapons or technologies
to Taiwan. This is a most dangerous tendency. If the US chose to do so,
it would put Taiwan under the American umbrella of military protection
and restore, de facto, the US-Taiwan military alliance. It would surely
inflate the arrogance of the forces for Taiwan's independence, jeopardize
stability in the Taiwan Straits, endanger the peaceful reunification of
China and lead to serious regression in China-US relations.
China has no intention of threatening US security, nor does it seek such
capabilities. China has always exercised great restraint in the development
of nuclear arms. Moreover, since the first day it came into possession
of nuclear weapons, China has pursued the policy of no-first-use under
any conditions. China keeps a small but effective nuclear force only for
the purpose of containing other countries' possible nuclear attacks. This
policy will remain unchanged.
China and the US are both permanent members of the UN Security Council
and shoulder common responsibility for maintaining world peace and security.
A cooperative and constructive relationship between China and the US will
not only serve the interests of the two countries but also have crucial
impact on world stability and security.
For a long time, China and the US have engaged in fruitful cooperation
over the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles.
The Chinese side is ready to continue on this path with the US. But we
also look forward to serious and pragmatic dialogue with the Bush administration
on missile defense and related issues.
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