China criticizes US, Japan over nuclear transparency call

Catherine Wong, South China Morning Post

Posted at Jan 22 2022 09:47 AM | Updated as of Jan 22 2022 09:56 AM

China hit out at the United States and Japan on Friday after the two nations sounded alarm over China's growing nuclear capabilities.

In a statement on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons on Thursday, the two countries called on China to increase transparency and reduce nuclear risks.

"Noting the People's Republic of China's ongoing increase in its nuclear capabilities, Japan and the United States request (China) to contribute to arrangements that reduce nuclear risks, increase transparency, and advance nuclear disarmament," the US and Japan said.

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the US was the bigger threat.

"As we all know, it is the US that is the biggest threat to global stability with the world's biggest and most advanced nuclear stockpile," Zhao said, adding that the US had deployed missile defence systems around the world.

"Despite possessing the world's largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal, the US is still investing trillions of dollars to upgrade its 'nuclear triad', developing low-yield nuclear weapons and lowering the threshold for using nuclear weapons."

He said the US should "mind its own business" before criticising China and cut its nuclear stockpile to set an example for other countries.

He added that China remained firmly committed to a self-defensive nuclear strategy and no-first-use policy on nuclear weapons.

Zhao also criticised Japan for storing large quantities of weapons-grade plutonium and "desperately trying to prevent the US from adopting the no-first-use policy".

"If the Japanese side is sincere about promoting nuclear arms control and non-proliferation, it should adopt a responsible attitude and respond to these international concerns," he said.

The criticism came as the US and Japanese prepared for their first online meeting since Fumio Kishida became Japanese prime minister in October.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that the aim of the talks was "to further strengthen the US-Japan alliance" and ensure "a free and open Indo-Pacific" that would involve deeper cooperation between the nations over trade and security.

The US-Japan talks follow a flurry of security-related meetings involving Indo-Pacific leaders, including talks between Japan and France on Thursday and between Australian and British foreign and defence ministers on Friday.

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