China should reconsider the “sufficient” size of their nuclear weapons stockpile to scare off potential attackers, China’s Global Times said, pointing at the US' “aggressive attitude” in the South China Sea and the Taiwan issue.
One of the lessons China has to learn from the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit is that Washington respects military power in the first place and vast stockpile of nuclear weapons, in particular, the Chinese Communist Party-affiliated paper said in an editorial on Friday. The article suggests that Russia’s nuclear arsenal is behind the US leader’s “respect for the country and probably the only reason that had earlier deterred NATO from engaging “in open conflict in Ukraine and Syria with Russia.”
“Just by looking at the US’ aggressive attitude in the South China Sea and the Taiwan question, we know that China’s nuclear strength is ‘far from sufficient.’ Part of the US’ strategic arrogance may come from its absolute nuclear advantage,” the editorial warned. It added that one day Washington may “turn this arrogance into military provocation” involving China.
Thus, boosting nuclear weapons development to show determination to defend its core national interests must be a “top priority” for the country, the article stressed.
While Moscow and Washington are global nuclear hegemons by the number of warheads, Beijing lags behind the two powers in the nuclear club. Chinese forces possess approximately 270 warheads compared to the several thousand-strong US and Russian arsenals, according to a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) 2017 report.
Beijing is “slowly increasing” the number of warheads and is currently developing the Dongfeng-41 (DF-41) – a long-range ballistic missile possibly capable of striking any potential target worldwide. However, it is unclear when the new weapon will enter into service.
Apart from the recently sparked trade war between the two powers, Chinese and American forces have long flexed their muscles in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, which Beijing claims as its national territory. Despite the fact that the US is not among the claimant states, it insists that the area should remain international waters. Washington routinely sends "freedom of navigation" missions, which include warships and bombers, to the region, drawing ire from Beijing.
READ MORE: China hits out at US for authorizing submarine technology sales to Taiwan
Taiwan is another sore point in US-Chinese relations, as the island is seeking wider autonomy and even independence from mainland China. Washington recognizes Chinese authorities’ “One China” policy, stipulating the country’s integrity, but that has not stopped it from conducting rather provocative maneuvers in the region. In another instance of turning deaf ear to China’s vocal protests, the US State Department greenlighted submarine technology sales to Taiwan.
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