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China, Russia blast US missile shield plan

©

Latest update : 2008-05-23

In a joint statement released during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's first official visit to China, Moscow and Beijing denounced the US missile defense shield plan, saying it harmed international non-proliferation efforts.

China and Russia on Friday condemned the United States' plans to set up a missile defence system that Washington says is crucial to protecting the security of it and its allies.

 

"Both sides believe that creating a global missile defence system, including deploying such systems in certain regions of the world, or plans for such cooperation, do not help support strategic balance and stability, and harm international efforts to control arms and the non-proliferation process," Russia and China said in a joint statement.

 

"It harms the strengthening of trust between states and regional stability. In this respect (the two sides) express their concern," it said.

 

The statement was signed in Beijing by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is on a trip to China.

 

Washington's plans to deploy parts of its missile shield in eastern Europe to counter possible rocket launches by "rogue" states such as Iran have unnerved Moscow, which sees the project as a threat to Russia's security.

 

Moscow has been annoyed by what it sees as Western attempts to contain its diplomatic ambitions and keep Russian companies out of lucrative markets. It is keen to shore up support in China, which it sees as a potential ally against a Western world order.

 

COMMON GROUND

 

Medvedev and Hu also found common ground on human rights, which both countries frequently say the United States uses as political leverage to criticise them.

 

"Both sides are concerned about the universal nature of the principle of respecting human rights, but believe that every state has a right to encourage and protect them based on its own specific features and characters," the statement said.

 

"On the issue of human rights ... (we should) oppose politicising the issue and using double standards, and should oppose using human rights to interfere with other countries' affairs," it added.

 

China and Russia have frustrated Western moves to thwart Iran's atomic ambitions, using their permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council to water down sanctions. Both are involved in multilateral talks to rein in North Korea's nuclear programme.

 

The two countries have also proposed a treaty to ban weapons in space, in the face of U.S. plans for a missile defence shield in eastern Europe that Moscow suspects will be used to spy on Russia's missile arsenal.

 

Moscow and Beijing are also the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a regional grouping which claims a strong security role in Central Asia and is seen in Moscow as an alternative to Western political domination.

 

But the new Russian president also has to address concerns at home about China's growing military and economic clout and its rivalry for influence in resource-rich Central Asia.

 

Medvedev arrived a day after visiting neighbouring Kazakhstan, a country seen as key to Moscow's strategy of keeping Central Asia's gas out of Western hands and a rival supplier for China's prodigious energy appetite.

 

Earlier, Russia's nuclear chief said Moscow would build and supply a $1 billion uranium enrichment plant in China.

 

"The Chinese market is very attractive and we are trying to enter it in two ways, not only by supplying fuel but also investing in local production," said Sergei Kiriyenko, the chief of the Rosatom state nuclear corporation.

 

Date created : 2008-05-23

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