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Beijing – 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.

«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.

General Zhu, considered a hawk, stressed that his comments reflected his personal views and not official policy. Beijing has long insisted that it will not initiate the use of nuclear weapons in any conflict.

But in extensive comments to a visiting delegation of correspondents based in Hong Kong, General Zhu said he believed that the Chinese government was under internal pressure to change its «no first use» policy and to make clear that it would employ the most powerful weapons at its disposal to defend its claim over Taiwan.

«War logic» dictates that a weaker power needs to use maximum efforts to defeat a stronger rival, he said, speaking in fluent English. «We have no capability to fight a conventional war against the United States,» General Zhu said. «We can’t win this kind of war.»