Oct. 22 (UPI) -- China warned the United States to "act cautiously" following President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of a nuclear weapons treaty with Russia.
Beijing foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing on Monday the U.S. decision to "withdraw unilaterally" is "wrong" and a step backward.
"The [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty] is an important disarmament treaty the United States and the Soviet Union achieved during the Cold War," Hua said. "China opposes the U.S. withdrawal from INF."
Hua said the treaty has played an important role in mitigating international tensions and in maintaining strategic stability and equilibrium in the world.
"The treaty is still important today, and unilateral withdrawal is negative in many respects," the Chinese spokeswoman said.
Chinese state media condemned Trump's decision on Monday and claimed the United States is headed down a dangerous path.
"The fact that President Trump made this comment just before White House national security adviser John Bolton visited Russia is a measure to formally announce the decision," state tabloid Global Times said in an editorial published Monday. "The international community has expressed a lot of concern."
"Recently the United States began to frequently reprimand Russia for violating the INF...now we know this was to create an excuse for the United States to withdraw from the treaty."
Experts say U.S. withdrawal from the treaty sends the wrong signal to Beijing.
"China is likely to respond to the U.S. withdrawal by using it as justification for its own military build-up," said Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
China retains long-range missiles that are capable of reaching the continental United States.