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China and Russia close ranks against US missile-defence system

Chinese and Russian defence officials on Tuesday blasted Washington’s plans to deploy a missile defence system, saying it would prompt a new arms race.

The officials said Beijing and Moscow would conduct another joint computer-simulated missile-defence exercise next year in response to proposed US deployments in Northeast Asia and Europe. The two countries held their first such drill in May.

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Chinese deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department, Admiral Sun Jianguo, and Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov spoke to the media on the sidelines of the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing. It is China’s alternative to the annual Asian Security Summit, or Shangari-La Dialogue, in Singapore.

Senior officers from both countries used the press conference to argue that Beijing and Moscow would be harmed by the American defence systems in Europe and Asia.

Major General Cai Jun criticised plans by Washington and Seoul to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in South Korea.

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Cai said the deployment would “further strengthen unilateralism and the tendency to use or threaten to use force in the Asia-Pacific region”, forcing other countries to adapt to the risks and thus “causing a vicious circle”.

“[This] will not only jeopardise regional stability, but also spark an arms race and even expand to outer space.”

Russia’s Lieutenant General Viktor Poznikhir said US plans for missile defence systems in Europe and South Korea were presumptuous and arrogant.

“The US uses other countries’ territory to protect its national security, as all [missile defence] systems are controlled by the Pentagon, which has the right to decide who needs to be defended, and when to defend,” he said.

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“Whole populations in Europe and Asia-Pacific are becoming a human shield for the unpredictable US missile defence moves.”

Both sides criticised Washington for withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002, to allow the US to further develop its ABM systems, and said this decision had forced China and Russia to launch their joint computer-simulated drills.

“The Sino-Russia joint anti-missile drill has enhanced our armies’ joint operational combat capability,” Cai said.

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Beijing-based analyst Li Jie said China and Russia had been forced to cooperate by aggressive US missile-defence expansion.

“The deployment of THAAD in South Korea means Washington is going to use China as its front line for its missile defence system,” he said.

US plans for a European missile defence shield would similarly turn Russia’s neighbours, Poland and Romania, into US defence bases, he said.