China says it will take "countermeasures" if the United States deploys ground-based intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.
Fu Cong, the director of the Foreign Ministry's arms control division, told reporters Tuesday that Beijing "will not stand idly by" if Washington follows through on a pledge made last weekend by new Defense Secretary Mark Esper to deploy the missiles in the region "sooner rather than later," preferably within months.
He urged China's neighbors, specifically Japan, South Korea and Australia, to "exercise prudence" by refusing to deploy the U.S. missiles, adding that it would serve those countries national security interests.
Fu did not specify what countermeasures China would take, but said "everything is on the table."
Secretary Esper's stated goal to deploy ground-based missiles in the region came after the Trump administration formally pulled the U.S. out of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty last week. The pact, reached with the former Soviet Union, bans ground-based nuclear and conventional ballistic missiles with a range between 500-5,000 kilometers. Washington said it withdrew from the INF because of continued violations by Moscow.
Fu said China had no interest in taking part in trilateral talks with the United States and Russia due to the "huge gap" in the size of China's nuclear arsenal compared to the other two nations.