US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld questioned Monday whether a top Chinese general was reflecting the views of the Beijing government when he warned that China would use nuclear weapons if the US military intervened in Taiwan.
"With respect to the general, it will be interesting to see to what extent his remarks do or do not reflect the views of his government, and I prefer to wait and see what transpires there," Rumsfeld said.
General Zhu Chenghu, dean of China's National Defense University, made the warning last week at a briefing organized by a private Hong Kong organization.
"If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition onto the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons," Zhu said in comments reported by the Financial Times and the Asian Wall Street Journal.
Over the weekend, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman refused to disavow Zhu's remarks but said Beijing would seek to resolve the Taiwan issue in a peaceful manner.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who joined Rumsfeld at a Pentagon press conference, said the general's remarks were "irresponsible and I couldn't believe that they represent the views of the government."
Rumsfeld said the Pentagon will release a report to Congress this week detailing a military buildup by China that Washington worries may upset the balance of power in the region.
"It's a very straightforward description of ... a significant military buildup that is taking place," he said.
Howard said that while China's military and economic might is growing, he believed Beijing understood that "military conflict of any kind is not conducive to their leading longer term goals."
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China Refuses To Back Down On General's Nuclear Threat Over Taiwan
Beijing (AFP) (SPX) Jul 16, 2005
China refused to retract statements made by a leading general that it would use nuclear weapons to repulse US military intervention over Taiwan despite Washington's criticism of the remarks.
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