China warned on Thursday that President Bush's proposed U.S. missile defense system could spark a new arms race and undermine world peace, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao urged Washington not to scrap a 1972 arms control treaty that places severe limits on anti-missile systems, Xinhua said.

"We believe the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty is the cornerstone for safeguarding global strategic balance and stability," Zhu was quoted as saying.

The brief report on Xinhua was the first official Chinese reaction since Bush outlined his plans for an anti-missile project Tuesday in Washington. It repeated previous Chinese government objections about abandoning the 1972 treaty, which the United States signed with the now defunct Soviet Union.