During the visit of Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian to Moscow, it was announced that Moscow and Beijing are against deployment of the national anti-missile defenses (AMD) in the US and against infringement of the AMD treaty.

Haotian met with Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev and Acting President Vladimir Putin. The Russian Defense Ministry reported that the signing of the joint statement was one of the results of negotiations in the Russian capital. This document will outline the direction for development of cooperation between the Defense Ministries of Russia and China. During the meetings, the Russian and Chinese military delegations discussed the military-political situation in the Asia-Pacific region, problems of regional and international security, the problems associated with attempts of the US to deploy the national AMD and promotion of the program of AMD by Washington and Tokyo.

Military sources do not rule out that, if the US deploys the national AMD, the agreement on peaceful space exploration signed between Beijing and Moscow in April 1996 “might be transformed into a military-political agreement with all the relevant consequences.” In other words, it is likely that Russia and China will be ready to deploy their own joint strategic systems and air defense systems counter-acting the American AMD programs.

Recently, a group of leading Chinese experts announced that Beijing is especially concerned about promotion of the theater AMD program by Washington and Tokyo, “which makes deployment of defensive missile systems in East Asia inevitable.” To clear the path towards the national AMD deployment, adds the experts, “the US is attempting to force Russia to make amendments to the treaty of 1972 and threatening to withdraw from the treaty, if Russia does not agree to amend it.” The behavior of the US undermines the basics of the process of international nuclear non-proliferation, strategic balance, and could have “a catastrophic effect on peace and stability in the world,” note Chinese specialists.

According to available information, Chinese specialists are secretly developing satellite-based weapons. The Chinese government focuses most of its attention on implementation of special space programs, including the military ones.

From Sichan cosmodrome, located in south western province Sichuan, China has already launched a few satellites dedicated to military scientific experiments. According to available information, in accordance with the government space exploration programs, within the next few years, China plans to carry out over 1,000 scientific experiments in space. Some of these experiments will be performed in the interests of the country’s defense. During a meeting dedicated to the development of military science and technology, it was announced that China would actively continue the manufacture of missile systems necessary for provision of its national security, including such systems for breaking up of AMD defenses of “a potential enemy.”

Russian politicians have frequently predicted this course of events. According to former Deputy Prime Minister Yury Maslyukov, withdrawal from the AMD treaty “will influence the third nuclear countries,” that is UK, France, and China. Their nuclear forces are far inferior to those of the US or Russia, that is why deployment of a relatively limited AMD can devalue the nuclear forces of these countries. Hence, they will try to build up their nuclear potential, by employing inexpensive methods like increasing the number of MIRV missiles.

Meanwhile at first glance, the current plan of the US to deploy the national AMD does not contradict the Russian-American AMD treaty. American representatives offer deployment of “a limited AMD” in one area (in accordance with restrictions of the AMD treaty). However, according to Russian military experts, in reality, a system, deployed with such management and location systems (including the space-based ones), can be easily expanded to the national scale through “a simple mechanical increase of the AMD missiles quantity” at any moment. According to Colonel General Ivashov (director of the main department for international military cooperation of the Defense Ministry), the system being developed will enable the US to protect a territory with a radius of 3,000 kilometers, “that is practically all 50 states.” However, the treaty permits deployment of AMD systems with a radius of only under 150 kilometers.

Ivashov also questioned the validity of the argument that the US is justified in deploying a national AMD on account of the threats coming from North Korea or Iraq. “Any military expert understands that these countries do not have and will hardly have in the near future guaranteed vehicles for weapons delivery to the American territory.” The Russian Defense Ministry interprets the actions of the US deployment of national AMD “as targeted against the interests of Russia’s security.” However, China, India, and Iran will build up their military programs. For example, in November 1999, China tested a new ballistic missile. According to the military expert Sun Ichan, the flight of a space ship demonstrated China’s ability to develop the technology necessary in response to the American theater AMD, and national AMD. According to Sun Ichan, the technology which enabled the space ship to change its flight orbit could be used for changing of course of offensive missiles.

The tests of the space ship show a substantial “revision of national priorities,” added the military expert. However, according to him, the lack of funds will obviously be a serious restraining factor in the implementation of the Chinese space program. The experts pointed at the statement made by Jiang Zemin at the recent national consultation of chiefs of staff of the Chinese Armed Forces, that provision of “national security and integration of the country will always be the priority tasks in the governing of the country.”

The Zemin’s concept for governing China, says the expert, is “a significant deviation from the political line of Deng Xiaoping, who emphasized that the economic build up is the key factor in development of China.”

Russia is also changing its priorities. We cannot rule out that the defense order increased 50% will enable Moscow to develop the scientific programs for counter-action to national AMD deployment by the US.