"China will not stand idly by and will be forced to take countermeasures should the US deploy intermediate-range ground-based missiles in this part of the world."
China has issued a stern warning on Tuesday to the United States about deploying missiles to Asia amid their ongoing economic rift.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Chinese governmet warned the White House against moving forward with plans to deploy their intermediate-range missiles in Asia after the collapse of a Cold War-era treaty regulating their use.
"China will not stand idly by and will be forced to take countermeasures should the US deploy intermediate-range ground-based missiles in this part of the world," the Director of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's arms control department, Fu Cong, said on Tuesday..
Fu urged "our neighboring countries to exercise prudence and not to allow a US deployment of its intermediate-range missiles on (their) territory."
The Chinese diplomat specifically mentioned about the U.S.' intentions to deploy weapons to Australia, South Korea, and Japan; however, the government in Canberra has rejected the notion of deploying these missiles to their territory.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper made waves last week when he announced plans to deploy ground-based intermediate-range conventional missiles "sooner rather than later."
"I would prefer months," Esper told reporters a day after the White House withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The US cited alleged violations by Russia for its decision to withdraw from the accord.
Esper noted that the plans to strategically deploy the missiles in Asia would raise tensions with China at a moment when Beijing and Washington are locked in a widening trade war.
"Eighty percent plus of their inventory is intermediate-range systems, so that shouldn't surprise them that we would want to have a like capability," he added.