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 Post subject: China's missile warning
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 1:39 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2006 4:13 pm
Posts: 1672
Location: South Australia
China's missile warning
Patrick Walters
June 04, 2007

CHINA has warned the US, Japan and Australia against the development of a regional ballistic missile defence system arguing that it could destabilise security in the Asia-Pacific.

Lieutenant General Zhang Qinsheng, deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, told a security conference in Singapore at the weekend that if the current US-Japan joint ballistic missile defence program was extended to Taiwan it would meet strong opposition from Beijing.

"We are worried that this kind of deployment will destabilise the Asia-Pacific region and will create uncertainty in terms of regional stability and peace," General Zhang said as the leader of the first senior Chinese defence delegation to attend the annual security summit.

Australia is now examining how it could contribute to an eventual US-led networked BMD system and could eventually deploy a sea-going BMD aboard the navy's planned air warfare destroyers.

The Howard Government is also considering becoming involved in a trilateral ballistic missile defence research program with the US and Japan. Defence and foreign ministers from Japan and Australia are expected to discuss the BMD issue in Tokyo this week.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates yesterday rejected China's concerns about the development of a joint Japan-US BMD system.

Tokyo and Washington are combining to develop BMD defences involving the deployment of land-based Patriot missiles as well as sea-going defences on Japanese vessels using the Aegis defence system.

"The missile defence systems we are planning both at home and abroad are intended to deal with the acquisition of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction by either rogue countries or rogue governments or terrorists groups," Dr Gates told journalists at the Shangri-La Dialogue organised by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Dr Gates said the US-led ballistic missile defences were not aimed at weakening China's own defences. "The capabilities we are talking about are not designed to deal with the large-scale threat such as would be posed by either Russia or the Chinese," he said. "We would be pleased to sit down and talk with them about the capabilities and technical characteristics of this system and its limitations."

Defence Minister Brendan Nelson told The Australian that Defence was studying how Australia could contribute to any future regional ballistic missile system. "We are going to have a look at that. Missile defence in our region is extremely important," he said.

Dr Gates pledged that the US would remain fully strategically engaged in Asia and said the region would remain central to Washington's security policy in the coming decades. "Some people have suggested that the United States might be neglecting Asia because we have been too focused on Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots. In reality ... the US is more engaged than ever before."

He said Washington was realigning and respositioning its forces in Japan, had re-established military ties with Indonesia and Pakistan, and forged a new relationship with India.

The US was also working hard in the region on strengthening counter-terrorism co-operation and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

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