NT News



Beijing should abandon its promise not to be the first to use nuclear weapons in a war, in response to the growing alliances in the region against it, according to a former senior diplomat with close ties to the government.

Before leaders of Pacific nations met in Washington on Friday for a gathering denounced by China as a “mini NATO”, Sha Zukang said its long-standing promise should be revised, because of the US’s growing military presence in East Asia and the new strategic partnershi­ps forming there.

“The unconditio­nal no first use is not suitable ... unless China-US negotiatio­ns agree that neither side would use (nuclear weapons) first, or the US will no longer take any passive measures to undermine the effectiven­ess of China’s strategic forces,” Mr Sha told a meeting of the China Arms Control and Disarmamen­t Associatio­n in Beijing last week.

His words will add to a sense of alarm at the atmosphere of strategic confrontat­ion developing in Asia.

China became a nuclear power in 1964 and adopted the policy four years later. Analysis of satellite photograph­s by independen­t civilian researcher­s suggests China is building almost 300 silos for interconti­nental missiles.

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