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Beijing Rips ‘US’s Old Trick of Hyping China Threat’ as DoD Projects Four-Fold Jump in Chinese Nukes

By Ilya Tsukanov – Samizdat – 06.12.2022

China’s Defense Ministry has ripped Washington over a Pentagon report claiming the People’s Republic plans to ramp up its nuclear weapons stockpile to 1,500 warheads by 2035 and to make modifications to its nuclear doctrine.

“It should be emphasized that China firmly pursues a nuclear strategy of self-defense, adheres to the nuclear policy of no first use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and keeps nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for national security,” Defense Ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said in a written press statement Tuesday.

Accusing Washington of engaging in baseless “speculation” about Beijing’s nuclear deterrent, Tan urged the US to “deeply review and reflect on its own nuclear policy” before “pointing fingers” at China.

“With the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, the US continues to upgrade its nuclear triad, vigorously seeks to develop or forward-deploy non-strategic nuclear weapons, lowers the threshold for using nuclear weapons, and conducts nuclear proliferation through the AUKUS trilateral security partnership, increasingly becoming the source of nuclear conflicts,” the spokesman said.

Tan added that as far as the Pentagon’s 2022 China report as a whole is concerned, it constitutes an example of “the US’s old trick to hype up the so-called ‘Chinese military threat’.” China is “strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to the US’s move, and has lodged solemn representations with the US,” the spokesman said.

The US Department of Defense’s new report on China, released on November 29, characterizes the People’s Republic as “the only competitor with the intent and, increasingly, the capacity to reshape” the US-dominated world order. The report cites Chinese efforts to “modernize, diversify, and expand its nuclear forces,” and expects Beijing to increase the size of its nuclear arsenal from about 400 nukes now to “about 1,500 warheads by its 2035 timeline.”

The document further accuses China of planning to make modifications to its nuclear posture to account for more and better weapons systems, and suggests that the PRC “probably seeks lower yield nuclear warhead capabilities to provide proportional response options that its high-yield warheads cannot deliver.” Finally, the Pentagon paper expresses concerns about China’s “launch on warning posture,” which allows for nuclear missiles to be launched before an enemy first strike detonates.

How Much of a Threat Do China’s Nukes Pose to the US?

Estimates on the size of China’s nuclear stockpile range from 350-400 total warheads. Even if the PRC went ahead and more than quadrupled its total nuclear stockpile, as the Pentagon report claims, Beijing’s 1,500 nukes would still be just a fraction of the 5,550 warhead stockpile held by the United States. Amid recent US efforts to peg China into strategic arms limitation talks with Russia, Beijing has indicated that it would be “happy” to join such discussions if the nuclear superpowers first reduced their stockpiles to China’s level.

Notwithstanding China’s economic and technological might and growing geopolitical and strategic weight in the world, its nuclear deterrent remains extremely modest compared to the US. For example, while the US Navy operates a fleet of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, each carrying up to 336 nuclear bombs – enough to obliterate the whole of China, the People’s Liberation Army Navy has six Type 094 missile subs, each carrying between one and seven warheads (for a total capacity of 12-84 warheads per sub).

China and India remain the only two nuclear weapons states with a no first use policy. The US’s nuclear doctrine, on the other hand, allows the president not only use nukes preemptively, but even against “non-nuclear weapons states.” At the same time that it has accused China of “probably” seeking low-yield nukes, the Pentagon has developed the W76-2 – a nuclear warhead with an explosive yield of about five kilotons (i.e. about a third of the power of the US nuclear bomb which leveled the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945). Nuclear arms experts have expressed concerns that such low-yield nuclear weapons pose a threat to global strategic stability by lowering the threshold for nuclear war.

December 6, 2022 - Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | ,

1 Comment »

  1. The US Defense budget comes up for renewal before January 1st, so the alarm raised by the US Defense Dept should be viewed in this context. China represents little if any military threat. It’s NATO’s new alignments like the one mentioned in this article that represents a threat to China in the Pacific. Together with the friction caused by US posturing in the Taiwan Straits China would be remiss if it ignored US provocations and did nothing. What would US leaders do if China behaved this way toward Puerto Rico or even Guam?


    Comment by Thomas Simpson | December 6, 2022 | Reply

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