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China Expresses 'Concern' Over Missile Defense Scheme
China expressed its "concern" yesterday about a plan mulled by the United States and Japan for a joint missile defence shield.

It said such a move should not threaten the security interests of other countries in the region.

Foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news briefing in Beijing: "Like many countries in the region, we are worried that the cooperation on a missile defence system between the United States and Japan may have negative effects on regional stability and security."

Both the United States and Japan have said this week that they will continue to research a missile defence system.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell told the US-Japan Two-Plus-Two Ministerial Meeting on Monday that both sides had had a "productive discussion" in which they agreed that missile defence is an increasingly viable and attractive option, given the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

Liu said yesterday that the development of the missile defence system in the Asia-Pacific should not infringe on the security interests of other countries.

"We hope that the sides concerned will behave cautiously," said Liu.

He also said that China hoped that a US decision to deploy a limited missile defence shield by 2004 would not upset global security.

"We always hold that only through the good co-operation of the international community can we effectively solve the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," Liu said.

US President George W. Bush on Tuesday ordered the military to start rolling out a national missile defence system beginning with 10 interceptor rockets at a base in Alaska by 2004, a move that was bound to irk long-time critics of such a shield.

Liu said: "The missile defence system should not undermine the strategic stability of the world. Neither should it undermine global and regional security."

Liu responded to reports that more US troops are expected to be deployed in the Persian Gulf next month by saying that China is ready to maintain close consultations and co-operation with other countries to push action on the Iraq issue in a "good direction."

He said the Iraq issue should be settled within the framework of the United Nations using peaceful political means.

Liu said that the accuracy and authenticity of Iraq's report on weapons of mass destruction should be determined by the United Nations inspection team and finally decided by the UN Security Council.

Asked whether China had sent delegates to a meeting held in London by Iraqi opposition parties, Liu said no Chinese delegates had been there. A country's internal affairs should be decided by its own people, he said.

(China Daily December 20, 2002)

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