China on Thursday rejected the proposal of the US to negotiate a new trilateral treaty with Russia on the abolition of short and medium-range nuclear missiles, calling the plan neither fair nor reasonable.

On August 2, the US government withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty it had signed with Russia during the Cold War, and invited China to join a “new era” of arms control, which would include other countries with strong military power.

The US then test-fired a cruise missile with a reach of more than 500 km just two weeks after abandoning the INF treaty.

“The request for China to participate in the trilateral negotiations is not fair, reasonable,” Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang said in a press conference.

“On the contrary, the US is the country with the biggest nuclear arsenal and should shoulder its special responsibility in arms control and create conditions for other countries to participate in nuclear disarmament, instead of retreating from treaties easily.

“After the US withdrew from the INF, it soon conducted missile tests. This shows US actions don’t match with their words. We think this move will increase risks in the region and undermine security and stability in the world and the region.

“We urge the US side to abandon Cold War mentality and zero-sum mindset, exercise restraint on developing its weapons and do more things to contribute to stability in the world instead of the opposite,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying by Efe news.

He claimed that China had a “defensive defence policy” and its nuclear weapons development was “very restricted”, keeping a minimal level of weapons to safeguard its need to protect national security.

“Any arms control negotiations should fully take in consideration the military capability of a country and follow the basic principle that the security of all countries should not be undermined,” he said.

The INF treaty was signed in 1987 by the erstwhile USSR and the US and mandated the signatories to destroy land-based ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and missile launchers with ranges of 500-5,500 km (short and medium-range).

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had announced Washington’s withdrawal from the treaty, having alleged six months earlier that Moscow had violated it by keeping the Novator 9M729 missile (designated by NATO as SSC-8), which, according to the US, violated the agreement of not having a range of more than 500 km.