Thursday, 25 February, 2021


Pentagon concerned by China's nuclear ambitions, expects warheads to double

Tensions escalate in the South China Sea Backstories Tensions escalate in the South China Sea
Bennie Garza | 03 September, 2020, 12:24

The day before, the US Defence Department issued a report suggesting that China is pursuing a "nuclear triad" by developing land, sea, and air-based nuclear weapons systems.

China plans to surpass USA military power by 2049 as part of an ambitious plan to massively expand Beijing's global reach, economic and political influence and worldwide military superiority, according to the Pentagon's 2020 China Military Power report.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Wednesday that China rejects the report because it ignores facts and is filled with bias, and deliberately distorts the country's strategic intentions.

More so, China "will significantly evolve" its nuclear forces through modernizations, including growing its nuclear arsenal.

According to the Defence Department, Beijing is expanding its inventory of the multi-role DF-26, a mobile, ground-launched intermediate-range ballistic missile system capable of rapidly swapping conventional and nuclear warheads.

Tuesday's report touched on theft of US research that could potentially help China modernise its military, a concern that has become a top priority across departments in Washington, and which prompted the US Justice Department to launch its "China Initiative" in 2018.

The PLA personnel at the facility have interfered with United States flights by directing lasers at pilots and flying drones, and the PRC has sought to restrict Djiboutian sovereign airspace over the base, it said. Ashley said China's stockpile was in the "low couple hundreds".

Washington has repeatedly called for China to join in trilateral negotiations to extend New START, a US-Russian nuclear arms treaty that is due to expire in February. The report said that evidence discovered previous year indicated China wants to keep a portion of its force in a state of alert known as "launch on warning".

The report said that in October 2019, China publicly revealed the H-6N bomber as its first nuclear capable air-to-air refuelling bomber.

The Trump administration has used such predictions to justify spending hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize the US nuclear arsenal.

China's nuclear arsenal is a fraction of the United States', which has 3,800 nuclear warheads stockpiled, and Russia's, which has roughly 4,300, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

"The US is said to possess something like 6,000 nuclear warheads, and the US has much more extensive military bases, with about 800 bases in more than 20 to 30 countries around the world". While the commissioning of the long-delayed second aircraft carrier (INS Vikrant) will only take place in September 2021, the government is yet to even approve the initial case to build a third carrier. If China does not join the treaty, known as the New START, the US might let the deal expire in February of 2021. They are said to include nuclear warheads that can be fitted on missiles that can reach the United States.

As the country with highest COVID-19 death toll in the world by far, the US move seems like an attempt to distract from the Trump administration's mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak. The increasingly aggressive posture comes as President Donald Trump bids for re-election in November.

Amid Chinese military exercises last week, Beijing fired four medium-range ballistic missiles from mainland China into the disputed waters of the South China Sea, a USA defense official told VOA. "Its goal is to incite confrontation between the mainland and Taiwan, and exacerbate tensions across the Taiwan Strait", he said, adding that Beijing might respond further, depending on circumstances.

China has recently added a military base in close proximity to a US facility in Djibouti, Africa, in what could be seen as a transparent move to rival USA influence in the region.

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