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China denies it is contemplating first use of nuclear weapons

China denied reports that it would consider a pre-emptive nuclear strike if it finds itself faced with a critical situation of a war with another nuclear state.



Beijing: China on Thursday denied reports that
it would consider a pre-emptive nuclear strike if it finds
itself faced with a critical situation of a war with another
nuclear state.

Terming the reports as "totally false" and "made with
ulterior motives", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei
said, "Since the very day China got nuclear weapons, Chinese
government has made a solemn pledge never to be the first to
use nuclear weapons at any time under any circumstance."

"China has lived up to this," the spokesman said, as
media reports, citing secret internal PLA documents outlined
that China had framed a new nuclear doctrine contradicting its
no-first-use of nuclear weapons, likely to fan concern in the
United States, Japan, India and other regional powers about
Beijing`s nuclear intentions.

The media reports said the newly revealed policy
paper, called "Lowering the threshold of nuclear threats" may
lead to People`s Liberation Army adjusting "the nuclear threat
policy if a nuclear missile-possessing country carries out a
series of air strikes against key strategic targets in the
country with absolutely superior conventional weapons."

Japanese news agency Kyodo, quoting the PLA document
had said, China will first warn an adversary about a nuclear
strike, but if the enemy attacks Chinese territory with
conventional forces the PLA "must carefully consider" a
pre-emptive nuclear strike.

Commenting on the document, Akio Takahara, a professor
of contemporary Chinese politics at the University of Tokyo`s
Graduate School of Public Policy, said an adjustment of the
PLA`s nuclear threat policy as spelled out in the paper runs
counter to President Hu Jintao`s pledge that China will not
launch a preemptive nuclear strike under any circumstances.

"It is uncertain whether such policy adjustment
represents a policy shift or has been in existence from
before," Takahara said.

"But a preemptive strike as assumed (in the documents)
would apply to an extreme situation such as war with the
United States, and that is almost inconceivable today. I think
President Hu is aware of that."

China has not publicly discussed its nuclear
doctrine in public much since it became a nuclear power in
1964.

Analysts often quote a Chinese White Paper presented
in 1998 which stated that "from the first day it possessed
nuclear weapons, China has solemnly declared its determination
not to be the first to use such weapons at any time and in any
circumstances, and later undertook unconditionally not to use
or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon
states or nuclear-weapon-free zones."

PTI

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