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The People's Daily, China

The US Has No Right to Limit
Others’ Strategic Space

By Hu Yumin

Translated By Nathan Hsu

7 February 2013

Edited by Daye Lee

China - The People's Daily - Original Article (Chinese)

The goal of international cooperation in nuclear security is to stave off the dangers inherent in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as to strive for a safer world.

Nuclear proliferation constitutes a significant threat to global and regional security and has given rise to a grave and complex situation. The Iranian and North Korean nuclear issues have dragged on without resolution; in South Asia, the problem of nuclear proliferation is intertwined with the dangers of terrorism. Although the U.S. and Russia have reached agreements on nuclear disarmament, the treaties were established under the principle of mutually assured destruction, and the measures taken to eliminate nuclear weapons are neither thorough nor irreversible. This results in a lack of sustainable drive in the process of nuclear disarmament and is no help toward realizing the goals of the Non-Proliferation Treaty on a global scale.

There are currently two clear trends in the fields of international arms control and disarmament. The first stems from constant achievements in military technology, as well as the plans of the major states to continue developing and updating their weaponry. When discussing the use of nuclear weapons and strategic stability, we must increasingly take into account non-nuclear issues. These issues include missile defense, long-range precision-guided strike systems, space-based capabilities and capabilities in cyberspace.

According to recent estimates by Russian Defense Ministry experts, the U.S. military will have 1,500 to 1,800 sea and air-based first-strike precision-guided cruise missiles by 2015. That figure is expected to reach 2,500 to 3,000 by 2020. This kind of long-range precision strike weapon system can, combined with space and missile defense systems, constitute an integrated combat system. The U.S. uses the banner of non-nuclearism to check other countries' capabilities for a strategic counterstrike during crisis situations, thus limiting their strategic options and forcing them into the awkward position of being unable to launch a limited nuclear counterstrike unless first having suffered a nuclear attack.

The second trend shows that the progression of regional problems has had a significant impact on global strategic stability. In the past few years, Russia has repeatedly emphasized that the missile defense system that NATO has deployed in Europe is compatible with the U.S. missile defense system, and as such, is the U.S.'s first line of defense against Russia, capable of breaking the strategic equilibrium of the region and the world at large. This issue has already become a major obstacle in negotiations between Russia and the U.S. regarding the reduction of their nuclear arsenals. However, the Asia-Pacific region may be even more worthy of attention. The construction of missile defense systems already encompasses Japan, South Korea, Australia and other countries. Other reports claim that over 50 percent of the U.S. military's sea-based long-range strike capabilities is concentrated in this region, a number which will very likely continue to increase over the next decade.

The above two trends share a common thread, namely that both are caused by the armament development plans that the U.S. has set based on its philosophy of seeking absolute security. This kind of philosophy not only pursues an overwhelming advantage in offensive systems, but also seeks to squeeze the strategic space of other countries.

It must be made clear that China has no intention of entering an arms race, regardless of whether that arms race occurs in nuclear arms, conventional weapons or any other field. However, asking China to forego its legal right to establish effective self-defense capabilities is obviously injudicious, especially in the face of other countries' and blocs' building of new military capabilities or upgrading of existing military systems directed against China.

Within the strategic framework of global security, China has played a constructive and stabilizing role. The promise that China has made not to be the first to use nuclear weapons reflects a more rational security philosophy. This stands in contrast to the paradigm of mutually assured destruction based on a balance of power or "mirror imaging" in arms. What China's philosophy seeks is a form of asymmetric strategic stability built upon maintaining one's armaments at a moderate and relatively low level, as well as with a more defensive posture. There should be no doubt as to the importance of this for preserving international and regional strategic stability.

The author is deputy secretary-general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.



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