US President George W. Bush's decision on Tuesday to push ahead with deployment of a missile defence plan will trigger a new arms race in the international arena and destroy what has been achieved so far with international disarmament efforts.
No matter what excuses the US uses to justify its ambitious programme, this irresponsible move is nothing more than a new threat to world peace and security.
In a major policy speech at the National Defence University, Bush called the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) a relic of the past and said that the United States had to move beyond the framework of the ABM.
The 1972 ABM treaty, signed between the US and the former Soviet Union, was created during the Cold War to prevent the sort of defence system which the US wants today because of fears that such a system would disrupt the arms balance between the two powers.
Although it is only a bilateral document, the pact has been widely recognized as a cornerstone of efforts to maintain global strategic stability and international security. It is also the basis for other international agreements on reducing and limiting offensive strategic arms and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Like many other countries which strongly oppose the US missile shield, China believes a formal abrogation of the treaty will spark an international arms race and encourage proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
To make way for the US missile plan, the US president did not hesitate to trample on an international treaty. Uncle Sam has more than once ignored international laws and principles in the pursuit of its own interests.
In fact, the Bush administration's behaviour in the past 100 days has illustrated that an ultra-self-centred "America first" attitude is gaining more ground in US foreign policy. The US decisions to renounce the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and withdraw support for Seoul's Sunshine Policy have shocked the people all over the world, including US allies.
As the self-proclaimed leader of the world, the United States seems to be pushing the world back into the Cold War era by seeking military confrontation rather than solving disputes through negotiations and dialogue. The United States is taking a dangerous course.
Ostensibly, the US anti-missile system is intended to protect the United States and its allies from attack by "rogue nations" or from accidental launches. Such an excuse is too fragile to convince others. It hasn't even convinced the American people. US experts and the media have doubted the so-called threat from "rogue countries," believing it has been "exaggerated" and "overplayed."
By deploying such a costly missile shield system, the United States, already the world's only superpower, is apparently attempting to seek absolute military supremacy and even greater global hegemony.
This ambition, instead of bringing security to the US, will break the present fragile global security equilibrium. This is something even the US itself cannot afford, financially or security-wise.
Given the fact that early tests of the technology - missile interceptors that home in on and destroy a fast-moving target - during the previous Clinton administration did not prove successful, undue haste in pushing forward the anti-missile plan could backfire and cause unpredictable disasters to a number of countries, the United States included.
If the United States really cares about global security, it should use its resources to deal with real hurdles the world is facing today, such as environmental crises and international terrorism, rather than create new scourges to scare the world.
(China Daily 05/04/2001)