BEIJING- Every state has the right to security and each government has the obligation to protect its nationals. But how to exercise this right and acquire security in its real sense is a question worth serious deliberation.

As globalization progresses, countries are becoming increasingly interdependent. This is as true in the security area as it is economically.

Security is mutual and indivisible. No country can exist in isolation, nor can it resolve all the security issues it faces single-handedly. True security is based on global security and on the extensivecooperation of the international community.

A military edge cannot guarantee security. Unilateralism will only lead to greater insecurity.

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles is a complex problem that can be tackled only through global cooperation. Setting up a national missile defense system would not contribute to solving this problem, but only further aggravate it.

Since the end of the Cold War, the international community has made considerable progress in nonproliferation. It is therefore neither wise nor advisable to build a so-called missile defense system, whose effect is questionable, at the expense of the international arms control and nonproliferation system after so many years’ efforts, including those of the United States.

Some people describe the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as part of the “Cold War mentality” and hold that it should be discarded. This view is neither fair nor just. Like all the other arms control treaties, the ABM treaty reflects the interdependent relationship among contracting parties in security matters. This relationship did not disappear with the end of the Cold War, but rather is becoming even stronger in the era of globalization. The ABM treaty is effective. It is not outdated.

Just as the ABM Treaty cannot be viewed in isolation, neither can a U.S. missile defense program. Offense and defense are always indivisible. Enhanced defensive capabilities, to a large degree, mean improved offensive capabilities as well.

This is particularly true for the United States, the only superpower. The United States possesses the biggest nuclear arsenal and the most sophisticated conventional weapons in the world, and it pursues a deterrence policy based on first use of nuclear weapons. A missile defense will severely impede the nuclear disarmament process and render any U.S. initiative on the reduction of offensive nuclear weapons meaningless.

People cannot but ask what on earth is the real intention behind U.S. insistence on developing a missile defense system in defiance of the international community. Is it really to defend against the missile threat from the few so-called “problem states,” or for greater military advantage over other big countries?

Recently there has been relaxation of tensions in the Asia-Pacific region. All parties should cherish this hard-won state of affairs and create conditions for continued relaxation. Theater missile defense would only add complex and confrontational factors to the detriment of regional stability.

Some in the United States clamorously advocate incorporating Taiwan into the U.S. theater missile defense system or providing anti-missile weapons or technologies to Taiwan. This is a most dangerous tendency. If the United States chose to do so, it would put Taiwan under the American umbrella of military protection and restore, de facto, the U.S.-Taiwan military alliance. It would surely inflate the arrogance of the forces for Taiwan’s independence, jeopardize stability in the Taiwan Straits, endanger the peaceful reunification of China and lead to serious regression in China-U.S. relations.

China has no intention of threatening U.S. security, nor does it seek such capabilities. China has always exercised great restraint in the development of nuclear arms. China has always pursued a policy of no first use, and keeps a small but effective nuclear force only for the purpose of containing other countries’ possible nuclear attacks. This policy will remain unchanged.

China and the United States shoulder common responsibility for maintaining world peace and security. A cooperative and constructive relationship between China and the United States will have a crucial impact on world stability.

China and the United States have long engaged in fruitful cooperation over nonproliferation. China is ready to continue on this path. But we also look forward to serious and pragmatic dialogue with the Bush administration on missile defense and related issues.

*Tang Jiaxuan is the Foreign Minister of China. He contributed this comment to the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Friday, March 30, 2001