US triggers China’s urgency to strengthen nuclear deterrent: Global Times editorial

 Jul 27, 2021
Photo: Fan Lingzhi/GT

On Monday, The New York Times quoted nuclear weapons experts from the Federation of American Scientists as saying that China has built a new silo for launching nuclear missiles in the Hami prefecture of Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. China now owns 110 silos, according to the US media. On June 30, the Washington Post published the findings of researchers from US think tank James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies, who identified around 120 new silos near the city of Yumen, Northwest China’s Gansu Province. The results of both reports are based on pictures taken by commercial satellites.

There has been no official Chinese response to these US reports. Some people in China have suggested that those silos claimed by the US might be foundations of wind power plants, though this claim has also not been confirmed by official sources.

There are two major reasons why some people in the US, and in the West in general, have been talking more and more about China’s nuclear weapons. First, the US has made China its main strategic rivalry. As it has adopted various policies to lay siege to China, the risk of strategic confrontation between the two countries has increased. As the US is strengthening its own nuclear weapons arsenal, it naturally assumes that China will do the same. Second, China’s economic and technological strength is sufficient beyond doubt to support the expansion of its nuclear weapons arsenal. It would be easy for China to do so if it wanted to.

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The Pentagon’s 2020 report to the US Congress assessing China’s military capabilities suggested that China would double its warhead stockpile in the next decade. Also, three Republican senators claimed in June that China would have 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2029, achieving some kind of “nuclear parity with the US.”

What is China doing with its nuclear arsenal? It’s the country’s top secret. The New York Times article speculated that silos at Yumen and Hami “are clearly being built to be discovered” by US satellites and they “can play a shell game” probably only filling part of them with missiles.

The US media and relevant institutes repeatedly hyped the newly discovered “silos” in China. Their fundamental purpose is to exert public opinion pressure on China. They have always believed that Western public opinion could influence China and that increasing the pressure can force China to change its behavior. Some US forces are also keen to further modernize the US nuclear arsenal. The media and the mentioned organizations hype China’s “silos,” which provides more reason for the US to upgrade its nuclear arsenal.

Obviously, Washington hopes that the current nuclear arsenal gap between the US and China can be maintained for a long time. It also hopes its absolute advantage would help sustain the US strategic offensive and coercive capabilities against China and bolster US confidence and its sense of superiority.

However, Washington needs to be clear that in an era when China’s economic and technological capabilities are abundant, the US’ implementation of a policy with strong pressure and the resulting increased risk of a China-US strategic collision will inevitably bring a sense of urgency for China to intensify the building of its nuclear deterrent. The US – the country with the strongest military forces in the world – is worried that its nuclear deterrent is not sufficient. They should put themselves in China’s shoes and consider what China’s strategic concerns will be. Don’t we have many more reasons to make our own nuclear arsenal stronger?

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Some Americans are striking an attitude in talking about what China would do with a stronger nuclear capability. We don’t know whether they are naive or hypocritical. China’s strengthening of its nuclear deterrent is to suppress the impulse of some US forces to impose maximum pressure on China or even provoke a war to crush the will of the Chinese people.

In the face of some extreme US politicians’ repeated provocations and the US’ arrogance in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits, China must take resolute countermeasures against the US’ arrogance. It should force the US to maintain restraint at moments and localities that may lead to a military confrontation between China and the US, and make efforts to avoid conflicts. China’s building of its strength must convince the US that if and when a war breaks out at China’s doorstep, the US will never win. China’s strength is sufficient to support us in combating any escalation of the conflict until the provocateurs are defeated in the future.

Americans should know as clearly as the Chinese do about what level of nuclear power China really needs to build. It would be a nuclear force strong enough to make the US – from the military to the government – fear. To a significant degree, it could participate in shaping US public opinion toward China. The dynamic equilibrium will be achieved when the radical elites in the US completely lose the courage to even think about using nuclear weapons against China, and when the entire US society is fully aware that China is “untouchable” in terms of military power.

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