What would China do about US missiles in the Indo-Pacific region?

Do you think that Beijing might be at some point interested in discussing short medium-range and intermediate-range missiles treaty and what might be China’s reaction if the US will try to deploy such missiles the Indo-Pacific region? Read few comments.

Tong ZhaoFellowCarnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy

Beijing appears to embrace no interests at all to discuss possible arms control measures to limit its missile capabilities, regardless of whether short-, medium-, or intermediate-range missiles. The vast majority of Chinese experts firmly endorse the view that what ultimately earns China international respect is its hard power, including its military power. Under this mindset, there is no surprise for the lack of appetite for arms control negotiations.

If the United States deploys medium- and/or intermediate-range missiles near China, it is quite likely that Beijing will double down its efforts to build a larger number of more advanced missiles of its own. This can trigger a serious arms race and contribute to the escalation of strategic hostility between the two big powers.

Benjamin HabibLecturer in Politics & International Relations,, La Trobe University

I don’t see any new missile treaties being negotiated in the current environment.  What may be more likely in various areas of the Indo-Pacific could be a replication of the militarisation of the South China Sea, where China has established bases with radar, missile and air defence capabilities.  The danger of tit-for-tat arms racing and insecurity spirals is increasing in this environment.

Eric HundmanAssistant Professor of Political Science, NYU Shanghai

China’s force posture is still focused on making it costly for naval powers like Japan and the United States (and Taiwan) from operating in its near seas, and short- to intermediate-range missiles remain one of their key tools for doing so. Until and unless that changes, I’d be very surprised if China were interested in signing a treaty limiting such weapons.

Zhiqun ZhuProfessor of Political Science and International Relations, Bucknell University

don’t think China will be interested in negotiating a treaty (with the US or Russia) about missiles.  Fundamentally China believes the US and Russia have overwhelmingly more missiles than any other countries.  They need to talk about disarmament between themselves first before asking China to join them to discuss a treaty about missiles.

On the hypothetical question of US deploying missiles in the Asia-Pacific region, I think it will be highly provocative if its target is China.  In retaliation, China may target US forces in Japan, South Korea, Guam, etc.  I hope this will not happen.

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