MOSCOW (Sputnik) – China considers the United States’ pursuit to engage Beijing in trilateral US-China-Russia arms control talks as an attempt by Washington to overshadow its pursuit of nuclear hegemony, Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui said.
“The US has repeatedly made proposals on arms control for China, Russia and the US and promoted the ‘China factor’ to distract international attention, pursuing to justify its withdrawal from the US-Russian New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty [New START] and pursuing ‘self-liberation’ and achievement of absolute strategic advantage. China and Russia see this very clearly,” Zhang said.
The Chinese ambassador reiterated Beijing’s consistent opposition to partaking in US-proposed trilateral nuclear talks, specifying, however, that it did not amount to a boycott of the global disarmament campaign.
“China’s refusal to participate in trilateral arms control negotiations does not mean that China refuses to participate in international nuclear disarmament efforts,” the diplomat said.
Last week, US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the future of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) on the phone. According to the White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere, during the conversation, Mr Trump reiterated his hope to avoid a three-way arms race between China, Russia, and the United States and looked forward to progress on the arms control negotiations in Vienna, which started on Tuesday. Beijing was invited to the talks but did not send its delegation there.
The negotiations are taking place less than a year before the New START, which is the last remaining nuclear arms-control deal between the countries, expires. The US-Russia Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which had banned nuclear-capable, land-launched missiles with a range between 500km (310 miles) and 5,500km (3,417 miles), ended last year, after the US withdrew from it, citing fears that the deal undermined its national security interests.