The State Department on Friday rejected as "highly irresponsible" a Chinese general's warning that China might use nuclear weapons against the United States in the event of a U.S. attack on China over Taiwan (search).

Spokesman Sean McCormack said he hopes that the views expressed by Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu (search), a dean at China's National Defense University, do not reflect the views of the Chinese government.

Zhu told Hong Kong-based reporters that if the Americans "draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition into the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons."

Zhu stressed that he was expressing a personal view, not official policy, and was confident that China (search) and the United States would not go to war.

From what he had seen of the quotes, McCormack said, "I would say they are highly irresponsible."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited China last weekend and said U.S.-China relations have more positives than negatives. Of particular concern to the United States, she said, was the pace of China's military buildup.

McCormack said Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick will travel to China later this month to begin a dialogue on security concerns of mutual interest.