China on Wednesday stressed that it has no plans to join the U.S. and Russia in their talks to renew a nuclear arms control treaty.
Recently, U.S. officials have been making a lot of noises about China joining the U.S.-Russia negotiation on nuclear arms. They even went so far as to tweet a staged photo.
Washington and Moscow began talks last month to try to extend the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which they signed in 2010. It will expire next year.
Fu Cong, Director-General of the Department of Arms Control of the Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterated China's position during a press conference to share China's policy mainly on arms control issues, noting that China has no interest in joining Russia and the U.S. in their bilateral negotiations.
Given the huge gap between the nuclear arsenal of China and those of U.S. and Russia, it is unrealistic to expect China to join the two countries in a negotiation aimed at nuclear arms reduction, Fu said.
"We urge the US to respond positively to the call of the Russian Federation to extend the New START Treaty, and on that basis further reduce its huge nuclear arsenal, which stands at about 5800 nuclear warheads, and which is almost 20 times that of China's number of nuclear warheads, according to the figures given by the renowned international think tanks, such as the Federation of American Scientists and SIPRI," he added.
The director-general pointed out that the U.S. is bent on increasing this huge gap by investing about 494 billion U.S. dollars in next 10 years and 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars in next 30 years to upgrade their nuclear arsenal, both the warheads and their delivery systems.
"For them, hyping up the China factor is nothing but a ploy to divert world attention, and to create a pretext, under which they could walk away from the New START, as they have done on so many other arms control treaties," Fu said and added, "the real purpose is to get rid of all possible restrictions and have a free hand in seeking overwhelming military superiority over any."
He emphasized that China's refusal to join the so-called trilateral negotiation does not mean that China is shying away from international nuclear disarmament efforts, adding that "on the contrary, China is a strong advocate for nuclear disarmament in the UN and at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva."
China becomes 107th country to join UN Arms Trade Treaty
Fu also said China's accession to Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is another testimony to China's determination to combat illicit arms trafficking and its commitment to multilateralism and the international arms control regime, and also constitutes another concrete step to implement the grand vision of President Xi to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
On Monday, Beijing submitted official documents to join the Arms Trade Treaty, which aims to keep conventional weapons away from human rights abusers. The ATT now has 107 states parties with China's accession.
"When talking about ATT, I cannot but draw your attention to the sharp contrast between the position of China and that of the US on this issue," Fu noted.
He added "last September, during the UN General Assembly, State Councilor Wang Yi made the announcement that China would start its internal legal procedure to accede to the Treaty. At the same podium, U.S. President Trump announced that the U.S. would un-sign the same treaty, making it another addition to the long list of international treaties that the US has withdrawn from."
This also exemplifies the different attitudes of the China and the U.S. towards multilateralism and to international law, the director-general said.
U.S. has no right to accuse Beijing of violating disarmament protocols
In terms of the U.S. State Department's Compliance Report on arms control agreements, Fu highlighted one treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which has gained renewed prominence because of the pandemic.
Noting that in 2001, the U.S. was the only country that stood out in opposition to the conclusion of a verification protocol to BWC, Fu said over the past two decades, despite the almost unanimous appeals of the international community, the U.S. has single-handedly blocked the restart of the negotiation of such a protocol.
He also questioned if some of the U.S. domestic biological laboratories, including those at the Fort Detrick, and the vast number of biological laboratories the U.S. has set up across the world, including in China's neighborhood are in full compliance with the BWC.
"Are they in full compliance with the BWC? Because of the absence of a verification mechanism due to the US opposition, these questions remain unanswered."
"To use the words that the U.S. used in its report, we do 'not have sufficient information to determine whether' these activities are in compliance with the Treaty," Fu said and urged the U.S. to demonstrate more transparency and heed the appeals of the international community in not blocking any further the restart of the negotiation of the verification protocol.
The U.S. State Department has issued the Compliance Report on arms control agreements a couple of days ago. As usual, the report paints the U.S. in a perfect light, while making a lot of unsubstantiated allegations about other countries compliance with international arms control agreements and commitments, using very ambiguous language.