China's Global Times — the communist country's hawkish, belligerent state tabloid — has responded to the Pentagon's Friday announcement stating the US is looking to deploy intermediate range ballistic missiles to Asia "within months," warning "it will certainly trigger an intense arms race in the region."
Its editorial board, long understood as a mouthpiece of the state, has slammed remarks made by US Defense Secretary Mark Esper outlining the new mid-range ballistic missile deployment plans, crucially which came immediately on the heels of the formal collapse of the landmark US-Russia INF treaty, saying American greed and naked drive for hegemony will spark a dangerously unprecedented arms race which will fuel further "instability" across Asia. The Global Times commentary opens with:
The US is greedily pursuing an absolute and all-sided military superiority to consolidate its hegemony. It refuses to accept any relative balance of power. Such a stubborn and overbearing country has become the largest source of Asia's instability.
The authors further warn US plans will "break the status quo" in Asia, unleashing "geopolitical chaos" by deploying offensive weapons, because "Any country accepting US deployment would be against China and Russia, directly or indirectly, and draw fire against itself."
"Asian countries must collectively resist the US' attempt in creating new crisis in this region and prevent it from provoking extreme arms races and forcing all countries to take sides," the editorial urges further.
If the US really deploys Intermediate-range missile in Asia, it will inevitably trigger an intense arms race. Arms race is full of uncertainties, but it will only have one result. That is China will have a strategic weapons arsenal on par with that of the US. https://t.co/jM6JzaeQIE— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) August 4, 2019
Nothing less than a new Cold War will be the inevitable result of new US offensive missiles stationed in the region. The state-backed editorial board specifically called out close US allies Japan and South Korea:
Particularly Japan and South Korea must remain sober. Their interests have been diverse due to Asia's vigorous development. The US is no longer their only source of benefits. The two countries' relations with both China and Russia have stayed largely smooth and economic cooperation is expanding. It will be their nightmare if they follow the US to start a new Cold War.
The column speculates on the likelihood that Tokyo or Seoul will likely be the first to be asked to accept the missile deployment. However, "If they assist the US to threaten China and Russia, China-Russia retaliations will cause no less loss to their national interests than those caused by the US pressure."
"The US must accept the rise of China and other Asian countries," it concludes, followed by a threat:
It is hoped that Japan and South Korea will not turn themselves to cannon-fodder in the aggressive US Asian policy.
Meanwhile, following Defense Secretary Esper's trip to Australia for high level talks with defense officials, Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds late Sunday evening issued a statement which ruled out rumors that the US is set to deploy mid-range missiles in Australia. She confirmed no formal request has been made.
"I asked him directly, 'was there any expectation of a request', and he said 'no'," she said, referring to Esper.
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A mere day after the US officially exited the landmark Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) which had cooled the Cold War arms race, preventing a build-up in Europe, the Pentagon is looking to deploy intermediate range conventional missiles in the Pacific region "within months".
Noting that it will most certainly provoke the ire of China, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday of the plans, “It’s fair to say, though, that we would like to deploy a capability sooner rather than later.” Esper made the remarks from Australia. “I would prefer months. I just don’t have the latest state of play on timelines.”
"I would prefer months... but these things tend to take longer than you expect,"Esper stated.
This week's official end of the INF comes six months after President Trump issued Moscow an ultimatum to cease its alleged violations of the historic treaty.
At the same time US officials indicated plans to test a new missile which would have been prohibited under the arms control treat in the coming weeks, according to the AP.
The Pentagon has been sparse on details, and there's been no indication of which US Pacific or Asian allies might in the near future host new missiles. Both Australia and Japan have lately worked closely with the US on joint missile defense projects, however.
Interestingly, one of the key reasons both Trump and Bolton have cited over the past year for their view that the INF is "obsolete" is that it fails to include major world powers like China that have made huge advances in their ballistic missile and defense technology since the Cold War.
Concerning China, Esper dismissed the potential that new US systems in the Pacific could trigger a crisis amid ongoing tensions with Beijing, per the AP:
Esper, who was confirmed as Pentagon chief on July 23, wouldn’t detail possible deployment locations in Asia, saying it would depend on discussions with allies and other factors. He downplayed any reaction from China, saying that “80 percent plus of their inventory is intermediate range systems, so that shouldn’t surprise them that we would want to have a like capability.”
But perhaps it's all about geography. Consider for example, how Washington and the American public would react if China were to deploy medium-range missiles in Greenland or anywhere in the Atlantic for that matter.
On Friday, 88-year old Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who originally signed the INF alongside Reagan, warned “This US move will cause uncertainty and chaotic development of international politics."
Indeed we could already be witnessing the beginning of a new "chaos" and "uncertainty" of a global arms race.