China yesterday repeated its demand that the United States heed the opinions of other countries and exercise prudence on missile defence issues.
"It is of crucial importance to maintain the international disarmament control regime and global strategic balance and stability," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue told a routine press conference yesterday. "China is worried about the negative impact of the US retreating from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty."
News reports said that US President George W. Bush told congressional leaders on Wednesday the US plans to withdraw from the 1972 ABM treaty.
Bush declared US withdrawal from the ABM treaty yesterday.
China opposes Bush's proposal to build a missile defence system and advocates holding on to the current global strategic balance through dialogue in order not to harm the international disarmament control effort, she added.
China also condemned the latest attacks on Wednesday in the Middle East, said Zhang, referring to the latest tit-for-tat fighting between Israel and Palestine.
"We urge the two sides to calmly deal with the crisis, immediately stop retaliation and counter-retaliation, and resolve the disputes through negotiations," Zhang said.
An attack near a Jewish settlement on Wednesday in the West Bank resulted in more than 15 casualties. Israeli forces then carried out a retaliatory attack on the Palestinian-controlled West Bank.
The international community should adopt urgent actions to curb the deterioration of the situation there, Zhang said.
On the Afghan issue, the spokeswoman said a working team dispatched by the Foreign Ministry departs from Beijing today to inspect the Chinese Embassy in Kabul and meet officials from the Afghan interim government.
The duration of the group's stay in Afghanistan will depend on practical demand, she noted. China closed its Afghan embassy in 1993 for security reasons.
China will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and play a role in the post-war reconstruction, she added
At the request of US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Jiang Zemin talked with them on the telephone about the ABM treaty last night. Jiang made clear China's stand on the issue.
(China Daily December 14, 2001)