A Cold War treaty for the 21st century . . .
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says China “has no interest” in joining a nuclear arms treaty with the United States and Russia. The statement followed an announcement by President Trump that he wants the U.S. to withdraw from the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia, and create a new agreement that adds China to the mix. The U.S. pretext for withdrawing from the INF is Russian violations, but analysts also see China’s technological advantage as a key reason behind the U.S. proposal.
From the Baltic to the Western Pacific . . .
The INF bans the U.S. from deploying intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM). China, as a non-signatory, is unconstrained and has been developing several anti-ship ‘carrier-killer missiles’ within the IRBM category. These missiles could provide a check to the US Navy’s ability to operate unfettered in the Western Pacific. And by withdrawing from the INF, the U.S. could also develop IRBMs to compete with those in the Chinese arsenal.
Having your cake and eating it too . . .
All this comes as the U.S. and China escalate their ‘tariff war,’ with China announcing US$60B worth of new duties on American goods in retaliation for the US$200B recently placed on Chinese products. China’s increasing economic and military might has left many state players in East Asia between a rock and a hard place. They want to maintain economic relations with China but also depend on U.S. security guarantees. As Canada is quickly learning, it is increasingly difficult to separate economics from security in the Asia Pacific.
- The New York Times: What is the I.N.F. treaty and why does it matter?
- Reuters: New missile gap leaves U.S. scrambling to counter China
- Washington Post: Trump orders staff to prepare arms-control push with Russia and China