China's military 'seriously concerned' by Japan-S. Korea pact

•BEIJING • China's Defence Ministry yesterday expressed serious concern about South Korea and Japan signing a military intelligence pact to share sensitive information on the threat posed by North Korea's missile and nuclear activities.

The signing of the General Security of Military Information Agreement had originally been expected in 2012, but South Korea postponed it because of domestic opposition.

The case for the neighbours to pool intelligence has increased, however, as North Korea has been testing different types of missiles at a faster rate, and claims it has the capability to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said the move would add a new unsafe and unstable element to North-east Asia and smacked of a "cold war mentality".

"China's military expresses serious concern about this," Mr Yang told the monthly news briefing, adding to previous opposition to the deal from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

"We will make all necessary preparations, earnestly perform our duties and fulfil our mission, resolutely protect the country's security interests, and resolutely protect regional peace and stability," he said, without elaborating.

Separately, the Defence Ministry said China wanted to develop smooth military-to-military ties with American President-elect Donald Trump's administration.

While the world's two largest economies are frequently at odds over issues such as the disputed South China Sea, both have been trying to improve trust between their armed forces to reduce the risk of misunderstanding in any encounters.

Last month, China and the United States staged a three-day humanitarian relief military drill as part of that trust-building exercise.

New concern looms with Mr Trump's election as president.

He lambasted China on the campaign trail, and has suggested Japan and South Korea be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

Asked about Mr Trump's election, Mr Yang said it went without saying there were tensions in the military relationship, and China hoped the US would respect its core interests and concerns.

"China is willing to work hard together with the defence department of the next US government to promote the healthy and stable development of military-to-military relations," he added.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2016, with the headline 'China's military 'seriously concerned' by Japan-S. Korea pact'. Print Edition | Subscribe