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India - China: Relations And Developments

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India - China: Relations And Developments
China could use nukes against US’

* US calls Chinese general’s nuclear threat ‘irresponsible’

BEIJING: China could use nuclear weapons to retaliate against the United States if it attacked in any conflict over Taiwan, reports said on Friday citing a Chinese general.

“If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China’s territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons,” said General Zhu Chenghu. His comments were reported by the Financial Times and the Asian Wall Street Journal, which attended a briefing with the general organised by a private Hong Kong organisation, the Better Hong Kong Foundation.

“If the Americans are determined to interfere (then) we will be determined to respond,” said Zhu, a professor at China’s National Defence University.

“We will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”

Xian is an ancient city in central China. Zhu said the comments represented his personal view and not the policy of the government. Nonetheless, his threat to use nuclear weapons is the most specific by a senior Chinese official in nearly a decade. The Chinese foreign ministry said it was “gathering information” on the issue and refused to comment further. The defence ministry also refused comment. Analysts said the remarks were largely rhetoric but also indicated that Beijing wanted to show the United States it was serious about Taiwan. “China’s leaders, especially the military, think it is important for weaker countries like China to demonstrate their willingness to defend their core interests,” said Joseph Cheng, a political analyst at City University in Hong Kong.

“It’s an old-fashioned strategy that is also meant for domestic consumption. “On the Taiwan issue, the US government tends to adopt a strategic ambiguity approach. On the part of China, it wants to show it is ready to make the sacrifices,” Cheng said. Although China has a no first-strike nuclear policy, Zhu said he believed the policy applied to non-nuclear powers and could be changed, the reports said.

China and Taiwan split in 1949 at the end of a civil war but Beijing still claims it as part its territory and has repeatedly threatened to invade if the island formalises its 56-year separation with a declaration of independence.

Zhu’s comments come ahead of Washington’s annual report on the Chinese military and as a string of US officials have raised concerns about the rise of China’s military.

Meanwhile, the US on Friday shrugged off as ‘irresponsible’ a reported threat by a Chinese general to use nuclear weapons if attacked by the US in a conflict over Taiwan.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the remarks attributed to Gen Zhu Chenghu ‘unfortunate’ and said he hoped they did not reflect the views of the Chinese government.

“I haven’t seen all the remarks but what I’ve seen of them, I’ll say that they’re irresponsible,” McCormack told reporters. afp


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