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China Concerned About US Missile Defense - 2002-12-19


China voices concern over the U.S. decision to deploy a missile defense system. China has long feared that an American anti-missile shield might weaken its nuclear deterrent.

China says it worries that a U.S. missile defense system might undermine the world's strategic balance and stability.

At a news conference in Beijing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao said that only good international cooperation can fight the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Liu says in response to the U.S. move, China will make the necessary deployments in accordance with its national defense needs. He adds that Beijing is still evaluating Washington's announcement that it would have a basic missile defense system in place by 2004.

China has long opposed U.S. missile defense plans, fearing that the system would neutralize its limited nuclear deterrent.

It also worries that an American anti-missile shield would weaken its ability to reclaim Taiwan. China considers the island its territory, and refuses to renounce the threat of force against Taiwan.

Still, China's response to the Bush administration's announcement on missile defense Thursday was muted compared with its past statements on the subject.

Beijing and Washington have cultivated closer ties since last year's terrorist attacks on the United States. China has supported the U.S. led war on terror, and recently said it is working with the United States to put aside differences and focus on security concerns.