U.S. Warns S.Korea of China's Military Buildup

By Yu Yong-weon | September 29, 2020 14:09

A visiting special U.S. envoy on Monday warned South Korean officials of the threat of China's missiles and nuclear weapons.

The visit by Marshall Billingslea, the presidential envoy for arms control, came as the U.S. considers deploying intermediate-range missiles in Asia to counter China.

In an interview with a local news agency before his visit on Sunday, Billingslea said the purpose of his visit is to discuss "the rapid Chinese buildup of nuclear weapons and ballistic and conventional missiles," and that he has "additional intelligence to share with our ally regarding the Chinese programs."

Marshall Billingslea, a special U.S. presidential envoy for arms control, speaks at a press conference in Seoul on Monday. /Yonhap

He also denounced North Korea's killing of a missing South Korean government official at sea, calling it a great tragedy and expressing condolences to the family of the victim. But he added that North Korea's apology is a good first step.

Asked if the two allies discussed the mooted deployment of U.S. mid-range missiles here, which has incensed Beijing, he said that Washington is not ready yet to talk with allies about deploying specific defense capabilities.

Since China is not bound by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, China has developed and deployed 1,000 to 2,000 cruise and ballistic missiles over the past three decades. It test-fired no fewer than 225 ballistic missiles last year and about 70 from January to August this year, he said.

He declared himself happy that Seoul understands the seriousness of the situation and called China a "nuclear-armed bully."

He added that it is therefore a moral duty to defend the U.S. mainland as well as the U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region against Chinese missiles and expressed hope that Seoul and Washington will work together in this task. 

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