Chinese general warns US of nuke attacks

Agence France Presse

Beijing, July 15:

China could use nuclear weapons to retaliate against the United States if it attacked in any conflict over Taiwan, reports said today citing a Chinese general. “If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China’s territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons,” said General Zhu Chenghu. His comments were reported by the Financial Times and the Asian Wall Street Journal, which attended a briefing with the general organised by a private Hong Kong organisation, the Better Hong Kong Foundation. “If the Americans are determined to interfere (then) we will be determined to respond,” said Zhu, a professor at China’s National Defence University. “We ... will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds ... of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.” Xian is an ancient city in central China. Zhu said the comments represented his personal view and not the policy of the government.

Nonetheless, his threat to use nuclear weapons is the most specific by a senior Chinese official in nearly a decade. The Chinese foreign ministry said it was “gathering information” on the issue and refused to comment further. The defence ministry also refused comment. Analysts said the remarks were largely rhetoric, but also indicated that Beijing wanted to show the United States it was serious about Taiwan. “China’s leaders, especially the military, think it is important for weaker countries like China to demonstrate their willingness to defend their core interests,” Joseph Cheng, a political analyst at City University in Hong Kong, said.

“It’s an old-fashioned strategy that is also meant for domestic consumption.”