China could increase its nuclear arsenal after Xi’s claim to establish strong strategic deterrence: experts

China should strengthen its nuclear arsenal after President Xi Jinping’s remarks at the Key congress of the ruling communist party for the first time Beijing will establish a strong strategic deterrent, experts said.

“We will establish a strong strategic deterrence system,” Xi said, who is expected to be approved for a record third five-year term by the CPC Congressdeclared its opening session on October 16.

In the 63-page report, Xi, who also heads the Central Military Commission (CMC) – the general high command of the two million strong People’s Liberation Army (PLA) – devoted a special section to the military. titled Achieve the central goal of the PLA and the further modernization of national defense and the army.

He also called for accelerated development of intelligent and unmanned combat capabilities, promoting coordinated development and application of the networked information system.

There was no mention of the concept of strategic deterrence in Xi’s last Party Congress report in 2017 or in its landmark resolution last year.

But the 14th report on the country’s five-year plan released last year stressed the need to “build high-level strategic deterrence”, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

Analysts said the mention of Xi signaled China would improve its nuclear deterrent capability amid its growing rivalry with the United States, which is a major nuclear power.

Song Zhongping, a former People’s Liberation Army instructor, said the statement meant China would “strengthen its development of strategic nuclear forces” to safeguard its national security.

Song said the PLA must strengthen its “nuclear triad” forces – its combination of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched missiles and air-launched weapons – as well as its second nuclear strike capability to respond to a nuclear attack. offensive.

“All of these require the PLA to have a modern nuclear armed force…and to moderately increase the nuclear arsenal,” he said.

The United States has warned against China’s nuclear weapons expansion in the past, with a report released by the Pentagon in November estimating that China could have as many as 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027 and at minus 1,000 by 2030, according to the Post report.

Song said the need for a strong strategic deterrent arose as the United States challenged China and Russia’s results on the Taiwan question and the Ukraine war, and “only when China has a strong nuclear capability can it effectively protect our national security”.

In recent years, calls have been made for China to strengthen its nuclear arsenal. China claims it has the fewest number of nuclear weapons to build its nuclear arsenal.

Zhao Tong, a senior fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Politics in Beijing, told the Post that the new wording signals a significant and ongoing shift in China’s nuclear policy.

In 2021, the country has moved from its traditional policy of building a “light and effective” deterrent to that of building a “high-level strategic deterrent”. Then, this year, the declaration aimed to create a “strong strategic deterrent capability”.

He said it was significant “especially considering that for many decades China has maintained a traditionally small nuclear arsenal and a very modest, self-restrained nuclear posture. That all seems to have become history now. Zhao said it was very difficult to say how many nuclear weapons China planned to build eventually and that the emergence of an indefinite nuclear buildup was what caused concern in the United States and other countries. ‘other countries.

Analyzing Xi’s report, Robert Lawrence Kuhn, chairman of the Kuhn Foundation and a US China expert based in Beijing, said national security is more comprehensive in Xi’s report than he has previously stated and encompasses all aspects of Chinese society.

Saying that “security” and “safety” are emphasized much more often in the report, Kuhn said China must be prepared for major challenges.

Comments are closed.