BEIJING — China and Russia sharply condemned U.S. missile defense plans Friday, taking a harder common line that reinforces an already strong strategic partnership during Dmitry Medvedev's first foreign trip as Russian president.
Pushing forward their robust energy cooperation, Russia also signed a $1-billion deal to build a uranium enrichment facility in China and supply low-enriched uranium for use in China's nuclear power industry over the next decade.
Rivals throughout much of the Cold War, Moscow and Beijing have forged close political and military ties since the Soviet collapse, seeking to counter the perceived U.S. global domination. They have spoken against the U.S. missile defense plans in the past, but Friday's declaration by Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao sounded tougher than before.
Without naming the United States, the two leaders said that "the creation of global missile defense systems and their deployment in some regions of the world … does not help to maintain strategic balance and stability, and hampers international efforts in arms control and nuclear nonproliferation."
They also warned against the deployment of arms in space — another clear reference to the United States.
The joint position appears to raise the stakes for Washington, which has been trying to persuade Beijing and Moscow not to see the missile shields as threatening. At the same time, the cooperation on diplomatic issues masks deep Russian unease at China's growing power and differences over military and energy sales.
"We're going to work with them to work through these concerns, and we think we can resolve any concerns that anyone has about this and the true nature of the program," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.