Reported by SAMUEL MANGOLD-LENETT | April 10, 2022
People familiar with the thought process of China’s leadership say that the Chinese government has begun to accelerate the development of its nuclear arsenal after reassessing the threat posed to mainland China by the United States.
The Wallstreet Journal said that 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.”
It is believed that 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 who study nuclear proliferation say they are unsure about what is motivating Beijing’s race to develop its nuclear arsenal.
The Wallstreet Journal reported that the “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.”
People familiar with the thinking of Chinese leadership have said that it is unlikely that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine has 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.