FPI / September 3, 2020
China now has the largest navy in the world, is on track to double its stockpile of nuclear warheads and intends to expand foreign military bases capable of attacking the United States, the Pentagon said.
The communist nation’s military buildup is a worrying sign that Beijing is seeking global superpower status, the Pentagon said in its annual report on the Chinese military released on Sept. 1.
China has surpassed the U.S. in the number of warships and now boasts the world’s largest naval battle force with 350 warships, including 130 major surface combatants. The U.S. Navy currently has around 293 ships.
The Pentagon’s report to Congress noted that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) now has a warhead stockpile in the “low 200s,” that will be expanded for a nuclear triad on missiles, missiles fired from submarines and bombers over the coming years.
“Over the next decade, China will expand and diversify its nuclear forces, likely at least doubling its nuclear warhead stockpile,” the report states.
“A stockpile of more than 400 warheads will still be less than the current U.S. strategic warhead stockpile of 1,550 deployed warheads,” Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz noted in an analysis of the Pentagon’s report.
Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant defense secretary for China, said the report is the first time U.S. intelligence on the numbers of Chinese warheads has been made public.
The report also noted that China appears to be shifting its nuclear strategy from one of not being the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict to a “launch-on-warning” strategy — firing nuclear missiles based on indications of an incoming nuclear attack.
Sbragia said the nuclear buildup highlights the need to include China in arms limitation talks between the United States and Russia, something the Trump administration has urged and the regime of Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping has resisted.
FPI, Free Press International