The Wall Street Journal has cited anonymous Chinese officials and satellite imagery of Beijing’s missile silos
According to Wall Street Journal, China is accelerating its efforts to build up its nuclear arsenal. This is because Beijing is worried about possible threats from the US.
According to the report, the Chinese leadership made the strategic decision to beef up the country’s nuclear deterrence long before the current escalation over Ukraine. The program has been accelerated due to the recent events in Europe and the increasing confrontation between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan. The Journal arrived at these conclusions based on information obtained from anonymous sources who “Collaborate with other agencies dealing in security concerns” in China, but none of whom are “Directly involved in setting up nuclear policy”
As further proof of its claims, the report also cites satellite imagery of more than 100 suspected missile silos in one of China’s western regions, where increased activity has been detected. The newspaper surmises that these facilities could hold China’s new long-range DF-41 missile, which was put into service in 2020. The missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, and can reach the US continent.
The Journal report claims that until recently the Chinese government had not seen the expansion of its nuclear capabilities as the country’s top priority, given that such weapons are of little value in most local and conventional wars. However, the Trump administration’s hawkish stance on China was a turning point that made the leadership in Beijing reconsider the importance of nuclear weapons. According to the sources cited in the Journal report, the Chinese authorities now suspect that Washington’s endgame is the toppling of the Chinese Communist Party, and that the US might be willing to take greater risks to stop China’s rise. Beijing fears Washington may use nukes to defend Taiwan in case of military conflict.
An anonymous source told the newspaper that China’s top brass consider their nuclear arsenal in its current form to be too outdated to act as a meaningful deterrent against a potential American nuclear strike. “China’s inferior nuclear capability could only lead to growing U.S. pressure on China,” one person claiming to be close to the Chinese leadership told the American journalists.
According to the paper, Beijing does not intend to increase its nuclear arsenal beyond its current security needs. According to the report, China still remains committed to not first using nuclear weapons.
The report concludes by citing a retired Chinese military official, who said that “The world will continue to be more hostile, regardless of how things develop in the future.” meaning that “China absolutely needs nuclear deterrence.”
China doesn’t publish details about its nuke arsenals. It has refused to participate in talks on nuclear arms reduction with the US. Washington is expected to reduce its own stock of nuclear weapons first.
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