Just a minor headline
Chinese General Threatens Use of A-Bombs if U.S. Intrudes
China should use nuclear weapons against the United States if the American military intervenes in any conflict over Taiwan, a senior Chinese military official said Thursday.The NY Times considers this to be a less important story than George Pataki's exploration of a presidential run or Ahnuld's contracts with fitness magazines.
"If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons," the official, Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu, said at an official briefing.
China has had atomic bombs since 1964 and currently has a small arsenal of land- and sea-based nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States, according to most Western intelligence estimates. Some Pentagon officials have argued that China has been expanding the size and sophistication of its nuclear bombs and delivery systems, while others argue that Beijing has done little more than maintain a minimal but credible deterrent against a nuclear attack.
Beijing has said repeatedly that it would use military force to prevent Taiwan from becoming a formally independent country. President Bush has made clear that the United States would defend Taiwan.
Many military analysts have assumed that any battle over Taiwan would be localized, with both China and the United States taking care to ensure that it would not expand into a general war between the two powers.
But the comments by General Zhu suggest that at least some elements of the military are prepared to widen the conflict, perhaps to persuade the United States that it could no more successfully fight a limited war against China than it could against the former Soviet Union.
"If the Americans are determined to interfere, then we will be determined to respond," he said. "We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese."