China blames U.S. for quitting Open Skies treaty first as Russia follows

China on Tuesday pointed out that Russia's withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty followed the United States' unilateral withdrawal from the treaty despite the international community's opposition.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian made the remarks at a regular press conference saying the U.S. acts undermined mutual military trust and transparency among the countries concerned.

Zhao added, the Russian side has made efforts to save the treaty but didn't receive a positive response from the U.S. and other parties.

"For a long time, the United States has been pursuing a Cold-War mentality and championing 'America first' while pulling out of multiple international agreements and organizations, leading to a very negative impact on the international arms control and disarmament process," the spokesperson noted.

Zhao also stressed that facts prove that a bright future can only be realized through dialogue and cooperation, not unilateralism.

"China calls on the United States to heed to the concerns of the international community and take real actions to uphold global strategic stability as well as peace and security in the region and beyond," he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Monday that formalizes Russia's exit from the Open Skies treaty, a pact that allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries.

The treaty, which became effective in 2002, allows state parties to conduct short-notice, unarmed reconnaissance flights over the others' entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities as a way to build confidence and familiarity.

Washington officially announced its withdrawal from the accord in November 2020 under President Donald Trump, accusing Moscow of "violating" its clauses. Moscow denied all accusations.

(Cover: A U.S. Air Force OC-135 aircraft used for surveillance of Russia under the Open Skies Treaty. /AFP)

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