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China terms U.S. missile plan 'dangerous'.

BEIJING, May 11 Kyodo

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Thursday echoed comments made earlier by Beijing's chief arms control negotiator, telling reporters the U.S. plan to deploy an antimissile shield would have an "adversarial impact" on arms-control efforts.

But spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue's remarks were significantly milder than those made by Sha Zukang, the ministry's director general for arms control.

In an interview published in Thursday's New York Times, Sha warned China could take measures to increase its small arsenal of nuclear weapons -- estimated at 20 to 30 warheads -- if the United States goes through with its national missile defense (NMD) plan.

An Asian variant -- the theater missile defense (TMD) -- is envisioned to protect Japan, and possibly Taiwan, from attacks from "rogue" states such as North Korea.

Zhang, however, emphasized China would not act precipitously.

"We will still wait and see what kind of equipment and technologies the U.S. side will develop with regard to TMD/NMD and then we will make our decision on the basis of analysis of this information," she said.

But the possibility Taiwan could be included in the TMD drew ire.

"It is our view that the inclusion of TMD systems by any country or the sales of TMD-related technologies to Taiwan will all constitute gross violations of Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity and will inevitably meet with the strong opposition of the Chinese people," Zhang said.

U.S. President Bill Clinton is awaiting results of a June test -- a trial earlier this January was unsuccessful -- before signing off on the NMD program, which would involve the construction of a missile station in the Aleutian Islands.

Russia and China are vehemently opposed to the plan, and while Russia's still-massive nuclear force would likely overwhelm any U.S. system, China's tiny nuclear arsenal could be rendered useless, experts say.

China and Russia are concerned the U.S. antimissile plan could upset the balance of nuclear power and Sha told the New York Times that with a viable system, "the United States will feel it can attack anyone at any time. And that isn't tolerable."
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:May 15, 2000
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