Beijing (AFP) Oct 20, 2005
China appears to be expanding its nuclear strike capability with missiles able to reach beyond the Pacific, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday, urging Beijing to shed more light on its intentions.
Rumsfeld raised the issue in a speech to the Academy of Military Sciences here on the final day of a visit that has highlighted US concerns about a rapid Chinese military buildup.
"China of course is expanding its missile forces and enabling those forces to reach many areas of the world, well beyond the Pacific region," Rumsfeld said.
"Those advances in China's strategic strike capability raise questions, particularly when there is an imperfect understanding about such developments," he said.
"As a result, countries with interests in the region are asking questions about China's intentions."
He said that while it was up to the Chinese government to decide how much information to provide on its plans and programs, "it is also true that greater clarity would generate more certainty in the region".
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan insisted the United States had nothing to be concerned about.
"As we have already said many times, China's strengthening of its own defense ability is completely appropriate. There is nothing to be suspicious or worried about," he told a briefing.
"I believe that in the two countries' military leaders' discussions, they completely had the opportunity to exchange opinion on the worries and problems."
Rumsfeld said a recent Pentagon report found that China's military expenditure was two to three time greater than publicly acknowledged.
The Pentagon report in July said China is replacing older long-range ballistic missile systems with newer missiles.
It said that over the next several years it will bring into service a new road-mobile intercontinental missile, an extended range intercontinental missile and a new submarine-launched ballistic missile.
Rumsfeld's comments on China's nuclear strike capability came a day after he made an unprecedented visit to the headquarters of the Strategic Rocket Forces here in a show of openness by the Chinese government.
US concerns about China's nuclear forces were piqued in July when General Zhu Chenghu, the dean of the National Defense University, said that if the United States targeted China in a crisis over Taiwan, "I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons".
But during Wednesday's visit to the strategic nuclear forces headquarters, its commander, General Jing Zhiyan, assured Rumsfeld that China is strictly adhering to a policy of "no first use" of nuclear weapons, a senior US defense official said.
Suggestions that China is targeting other nations were "completely groundless," Jing told Rumsfeld, according to a senior US official who attended the meeting.
The US officials regarded the visit to the Strategic Rocket Forces headquarters as something of a coup, saying the Chinese for years had denied requests to go there.
Rumsfeld was told he was the first foreigner to set foot in the building, they said. "I think it's a start," another senior US defense official said. "There were some interesting things we may want to pursue," he added.
"We certainly took it as a willingness to engage, albeit gingerly."
Earlier, Rumsfeld and Defense Minister Cao Guangchuan agreed "in principle" on the need for more educational exchanges and other types of military-to-military activities.
Rumsfeld said the contacts were needed "to demystify what we see of them and what they see of us".
In his talks with Cao and in an earlier seminar at a school that grooms future Communist Party leaders, Rumsfeld warned that China's rapid and secretive military buildup has raised questions about its intentions.
Cao denied that China has understated its military spending and insisted that raising the living standards of the country's poor made it "impossible to massively increase" military spending.
He said Chinese military spending this year totals about 30 billion dollars. The Pentagon in July estimated the true size of Chinese defense spending at 90 billion dollars a year.
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US, SKorea Discuss Wartime Command Of Forces, Nuclear Guarantee
Seoul (AFP) Oct 20, 2005
The United States and South Korea discussed shifting roles for the US military here, including who should have operational command of forces in wartime and whether to soften a US pledge to provide a nuclear umbrella, a top US general said Thursday.
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