China Accelerates Build-Up of Its Nuclear Arsenal amid Tensions with the US
Chinese leaders see a stronger nuclear arsenal as a way to deter the U.S.
The Chinese government has begun to accelerate the development of its nuclear arsenal after assessing the threat posed to Communist China by the United States.
According to the Wallstreet Journal, China’s nuclear effort “long predates Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the U.S.’s wariness about getting directly involved in the war there has likely reinforced Beijing’s decision to put greater emphasis on developing nuclear weapons as a deterrent.”
Chinese leaders see a stronger nuclear arsenal as a way to deter the U.S. from involving itself in a potential future conflict over Taiwan.
The Chinese government has also accelerated work on more than 100 suspected missile silos that could be used to store nuclear-tipped missiles in remote western regions of China.
American officials and independent security analysts have warned they are unsure about what is motivating Beijing’s race to develop its nuclear arsenal.
The WSJ reported, “people close to the Chinese leadership said China’s increased focus on nuclear weapons is also driven by fears Washington might seek to topple Beijing’s Communist government” as American foreign policy becomes more hawkish towards China.
American military officials and security analysts worry that China rapidly accelerating the development of its nuclear arsenal could embolden the Chinese Communist Party to launch a surprise nuclear strike.
Reportedly, the Chinese government plans to maintain an arsenal “no larger than necessary to ensure China’s security interests.”
A person close to the leadership of China suggested that another reason Chinese leadership is rushing to strengthen its nuclear arsenal is so that the U.S. can’t push them around on the geopolitical stage.
The person said:
“China’s inferior nuclear capability could only lead to growing U.S. pressure on China.”
This past year, the American security apparatus was caught entirely off guard as the Chinese government launched a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile into space that circled the earth before sailing towards its target on the planet’s surface.
An unnamed U.S. official said:
“We have no idea how [China] did this.”
Insiders said it was unlikely that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine had an impact on the Chinese government’s nuclear acceleration despite the lingering threat of Putin using a nuclear weapon against Ukraine, causing immense anxiety within the international community.
The Pentagon estimates that China will have 1,000 nuclear warheads by the end of this decade.
As The Daily Mail reported:
Despite the leadership’s apparently accelerated timeline, China continues to downplay its nuclear pursuits to the public.
“On the assertions made by U.S. officials that China is expanding dramatically its nuclear capabilities, first, let me say that this is untrue,” Fu Cong, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s arms control department, told the nation earlier this year.
He instead argued the nation was only looking to have the minimum level of nuclear deterrents necessary to ensure national security and defense.
He said that China is working to ensure its nuclear deterrent meets the minimum level necessary for national defense.
However, during a meeting with senior military officers in March 2021, President Xi Jinping urged officials to "accelerate the construction of advanced strategic deterrent systems."