Following Trump’s tweet and Putin’s statement about the expanding nuclear capabilities in the U.S. and Russia, China’s state media Global Times published a commentary claiming that China needs to advance its nuclear program to stay relevant as a world power.
The article said, “Russia’s conventional military capabilities have been far less than those of NATO, but the Russian-U.S. equal nuclear balance of power continues to ensure that Russia’s status as a military superpower is almost equal to the United States. Russia dared to confront the United States in Ukraine, in Syria and in other conflicts. The number one reason is the support of its nuclear forces.
”Some people probably think that ‘nuclear competition’ is a matter between the United States and Russia and that China can stay out of it. However, the focus of global strategic competition is shifting to the United States and China. It is impossible for China to remain uninvolved when the focus is on the nuclear issue.
”A saying has often been heard that nuclear weapons cannot be used <for practical applications>, so having too many of them is a waste. Management is also quite troublesome. It must be pointed out that such a statement is very unwise. If this view were to prevail in China’s strategic policy sector, it would harm the country.
“Are Russia’s nuclear weapons useless? We believe that it is using its nuclear weapons every day. Their nuclear arsenal, which keeps pace with the United States, has safeguarded Russia’s strategic deterrent to the whole West and has become the cornerstone of confidence in the whole country at a time of declining Russian economic competitiveness.
“China does not need to engage in ‘nuclear competition.’ However, <to determine> how many nuclear weapons are ‘sufficient,’ we must have a thorough concept reconstruction. The United States has regarded China as the number one strategic competitor, and transferred most of the pressure to China, step by step. The situation has changed; our judgment about the world must also change accordingly. It would be too naive for China still to try to breathe in the middle of the competition among the other big powers.
“China must have ‘enough’ nuclear weapons to the point that the United States would have serious concerns if it wanted to take a tough military stance against China, ‘enough’ that the United States will be convinced that, once it engaged in military provocation against China, the PLA would not hesitate to counter and counterattack.
“For the Chinese, the biggest threat from the United States today is still a military threat. Such a threat will cause chronic erosion of China’s social confidence. The fundamental reason that the United States is even more arrogant toward China than it is toward Russia is because China’s nuclear deterrent is far weaker than Russia’s. Only when China’s strategic nuclear deterrent can forcefully suppress the U.S.’s attitude towards China can the situation change.
“Even the United States and Russia feel that their strategic nuclear weapons are ‘not enough.’ Therefore how can China’s nuclear weapons be ‘enough’? China has to accelerate the development of the Dongfeng-41 and other strategic nuclear missiles. The work is an urgent need. We must not worry too much about the consequences in this issue or be overly concerned about the attitude of the United States and the reaction of the Western public opinion. China is already a country standing in the global geopolitical cusp. In this major issue of nuclear deterrence, we should not have the slightest hesitation.”
Source: Global Times, December 24, 2016