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China Rails at US Sky Treaty Withdrawal11/23 06:24


   BEIJING (AP) -- China on Monday lashed out at Washington over its withdrawal 
from the "Open Skies Treaty" with Russia, saying the move undermined military 
trust and transparency and imperiled future attempts at arms control.

   The treaty, to which China is not a signatory, had allowed each country 
overflight rights to inspect military facilities.

   That leaves only one arms-control pact still in force between the former 
Cold War foes, the New START treaty, which limits the number of nuclear 
warheads each may have. That treaty will expire in February and the Trump 
administration had said it wasn't interested in extending it unless China also 
joined, something Beijing says it will not do.

   "This move by the U.S. undermines military mutual trust and transparency 
among relevant countries, is not conducive to maintaining security and 
stability in relevant regions and will also have a negative impact on the 
international arms control and disarmament process," Chinese foreign ministry 
spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a daily briefing Monday.

   Critics complain that Beijing has urged other major countries to reach arms 
control agreements while refusing to take part in any such arrangements, 
including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, that expired 
last year.

   Meanwhile, it has taken advantage of limitations set by Russia and the U.S. 
on each other to keep itself safe and engage in unrestricted development of 
weapons such as intermediate-range ballistic missiles, bolstering its 
military's capabilities in the event of a conflict over Taiwan, the Indian 
border, the South China Sea and other Asian hotspots, critics say.

   The INF Treaty "acted as a security guarantee for China: Beijing 
successfully made use of the mutual limitations imposed by the treaty on Russia 
and the United States to minimize the military threat to itself," Russian 
consultant Andrey Baklitskiy wrote in a commentary for the Carnegie Moscow 
Center last year.

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