China rejects US offer to join trilateral arms control talks
China has rejected any prospect of participating in trilateral negotiations on arms control that involve both the United States and Russia, saying Washington’s offer to join the talks is “neither serious nor sincere.”
“China’s objection to the so-called trilateral arms control negotiations is very clear, and the US knows it very well,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Friday.
“Still, it pesters China and even distorts our position, which precisely demonstrates that the so-called trilateral arms control negotiations are political tricks rather than sincere, serious, proposals,” he added.
The US has been calling on China to join trilateral negotiations to extend a flagship nuclear arms treaty between Washington and Moscow that is due to expire in February next year.
China has refused to participate in the US-Russia talks but said it will take part in international nuclear disarmament efforts in general.
The negotiations in question are on the replacement of the New START, a nuclear arms treaty between the US and Russia that has nothing to do with China. By inviting China and anticipating its refusal to participate, Washington had been planning to portray the Chinese government as reluctant to take part in any arms control negotiations.
Zhao further said Washington should instead respond to Russia’s call for an extension of the existing New START treaty and further reduce its own nuclear arsenal, which will create conditions for other nuclear-weapon states to join in multilateral nuclear disarmament talks.
On Wednesday, China said it would be happy to participate in the talks if Washington was willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to the same level as Beijing.
“But actually, we know that that’s not going to happen. We know the US policy,” said Fu Cong, director general of the Arms Control Department at the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Approximately 91 percent of all nuclear warheads are owned by the United States and Russia, each having around 4,000 in their military stockpiles.
It is estimated that China has a stockpile of around 320 nuclear warheads.
The START accord is the last major nuclear arms control treaty between Moscow and Washington that puts a limit on the development and deployment of strategic nuclear warheads of both countries.
The New START can be extended for another five years, beyond its expiry date in February 2021, by mutual agreement.