Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 92

Russian-Chinese cooperation was also on display in Geneva yesterday when ambassadors from the two countries criticized both U.S. plans to deploy a national missile defense system and NATO’s bombardment of China’s embassy in Belgrade. The criticism came during a plenary meeting of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament. One Western diplomat was quoted as saying that the Russian and Chinese statements appeared to have been a “coordinated go at the United States and NATO” (Reuters, May 11).

Joint criticism by Russia and China of U.S. missile defense plans is nothing new. In March of this year the two countries announced that they had been consulting together on the issue, and that they were particularly displeased over a U.S.-Japanese proposal to develop a theater missile defense system in Asia (see the Monitor, March 12, 16). More generally, Moscow has charged that U.S. pursuit of a missile defense system would violate the 1972 ABM treaty and thus undermine strategic stability. China echoed Moscow yesterday, arguing that development of a U.S. national missile defense system would “trigger a new round in the arms race to the detriment of the international disarmament process” (Reuters, May 11).

Yesterday’s events in Geneva came a day after Russia–one of only two UN Security Council members to do so–supported a draft Chinese statement which strongly condemned NATO’s missile attack on the Chinese embassy. Russia and Namibia backed a Chinese statement which would have called on NATO to “bear all responsibilities for the casualties and property damage” that resulted from the attack. The statement also demanded that “all individuals responsible for the incident be brought to justice” (Reuters, May 10).