One issue which did not get much play in press reports of Tang’s visit to Moscow was Russia’s and China’s joint opposition to U.S. missile defense plans. This despite Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin’s assertion on the eve of Tang’s visit that the two sides would discuss the ABM treaty (AP, February 28). It is unlikely that this omission signified any emerging differences between the two countries on the issue, however. Moscow has long backed China’s strong opposition to a proposed U.S.-Japanese theater missile defense system in Asia, and Beijing in turn has come to embrace fully Russia’s own broader condemnations of both U.S. efforts to rewrite the ABM treaty and its intention to deploy a limited national missile defense in the United States.
Indeed, on February 24 the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement in which it sharply criticized once again U.S.-Japanese missile defense planning: Moscow “has not let pass unnoticed the insistent attempts of the United States to expand its military union with Japan by way of setting up a theater ABM system in the Asia-Pacific Region.” It also charged that the Japanese-U.S. system was likely ultimately to become a component of a future national missile defense system deployed by Washington, and warned that the appearance of any such combined system could “destabilize strategic stability in the region, destroy the regional balance of power and trigger an arms race” (Itar-Tass, Xinhua, February 24).
NAVY CHIEF HAS HIGH HOPES, BUT….