Chinese General threatens U.S. with nuclear weapons over possible Taiwan Strait conflict, Beijing downplays comment

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

A General in the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and dean at the National Defense University in China commented to visiting Hong Kong reporters on Friday that the PLA might use nuclear weapons against the U.S., in a conflict over the Taiwan Strait. "If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition onto the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons," Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu said to the reporters of the Asian Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. "We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian [in central China]. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds ... of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese."

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the remarks "highly irresponsible" and "unfortunate", and expressed the hope that they did not reflect the views of the Chinese government.

Echoing the official Xinhua News Agency, the People's Republic of China's Foreign Ministry officials said that Zhu was expressing personal views, and had warned the reporters accordingly, but stated that China would never tolerate "Taiwan independence". Reportedly, Maj. Gen. Zhu is not directly involved in the formulation of Chinese military strategy.

The U.S. may defend Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act and is currently Taiwan's largest arms supplier.

Sources

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