Monday, March 18, 2013

China warning after US missile defence plans

China warned against the bolstering of military power and urged caution on Monday after the US announced it would increase its missile defences in response to threats from North Korea.

"All measures seeking to increase military capacities will only intensify antagonism and will not help to solve the problem," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said when asked about the US plans announced on Friday.

"We hope that the relevant parties will... adopt a responsible attitude and deal with this issue in a cautious manner," he said, adding: "China has always sought to prevent missile proliferation."

His remarks came days after US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel vowed to increase by almost half the number of interceptors stationed in Alaska, following Pyongyang's threat of a "pre-emptive" nuclear attack against its arch-foe.

He also confirmed plans to increase missile defence facilities in Japan.

China is North Korea's sole major ally and main trading partner. But it has repeatedly expressed opposition to Pyongyang's nuclear programme and has voted to support sanctions at the United Nations, while urging diplomatic solutions.

Analysts say China above all values political astability in North Korea, fearful of a potential influx of migrants and a united Korean peninsula with a US military presence which might follow the collapse of the Pyongyang regime.

North Korea threatened to unleash a second Korean War -- backed by nuclear weapons -- in response to UN sanctions imposed after it carried out its third atomic test in February and to joint South Korea-US military manoeuvres.

The North fired short-range missiles into the East Sea (Sea of Japan) on Friday, Yonhap news agency said, after leader Kim Jong-Un oversaw a live-fire drill near the disputed Yellow Sea border with the South.-Channel News Asia (March 18, 2013)

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