BEIJING --- China on Tuesday reiterated its opposition to the multilateralization of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, saying the United States should further slash its nuclear stockpiles in accordance with existing treaties rather than shift duties to other countries.
According to media reports, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Monday urged a new structure including the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France in case of INF Treaty expiration, saying countries outside the treaty are still expanding armaments.
The INF Treaty is a missile pact signed by Washington and Moscow at the end of 1987 to curb the arms race.
"China is concerned with and opposes the possible abandonment of the treaty as a result of U.S. unilateral withdrawal," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, urging the United States and Russia to settle divergences via dialogue and try their best to preserve the pact.
"China will in no way agree to making the INF Treaty multilateral," Hua told a press briefing, adding the multilateralization of the treaty, which is bilateral in nature, involves political, military, legal and a series of other complex issues.
The so-called "new structure" put forward by Kono cannot help save the treaty, but rather serves in essence as an excuse for U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the treaty, the spokesperson said.
"The national defense policies China follows are defensive in nature," Hua said, adding China's development of intermediate-range missiles is purely for defensive purposes, which is not intended to and will not pose a threat to any other country. "The true purpose of the United States pulling out of the treaty is to avoid its bounden duties."
As for U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's proposal on Monday to include China in strategic dialogues between the United States and Russia as well as relevant treaties, Hua called it a disguised form of "duty shifting."
"China champions a comprehensive ban on and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, but nuclear disarmament should adhere to the internationally recognized principle of 'undiminished security for all' concerning arms control," she said.
The United States, as the largest nuclear state in the world, is burdened with special and primary responsibilities in nuclear disarmament, Hua added.