The report said that nuclear weapons are joining the other issues — including trade deals and 5G — that Trump has put at the center of a series of U.S.-China standoffs.
General Robert P. Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said last year that “the resurgence of great power competition is a geopolitical reality.” According to a speech posted on the agency’s website, Ashley said China launched more ballistic missiles for testing and training than the rest of the world combined in 2018, and over the next decade, China is likely to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile in the course of implementing the most rapid expansion and diversification of its nuclear arsenal in China’s history.
In Beijing, Washington’s foreign policy choices are increasingly being seen as aggressive and aimed at containing China. They say Chinese officials may see the country’s nuclear weapons program as one way to respond.
“If left unaddressed, this issue would continue fueling China’s anxiety about its nuclear deterrent and seriously disrupting the stability of the bilateral nuclear relationship,” Tong Zhao, a senior fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing, wrote on June 29. He said this comes “at a time when the world’s existing arms control institutions are falling apart and there are public voices within China calling for massive Chinese nuclear expansion.”
One of the calls for more weapons came from Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of Global Times. Hu argued in a recent Weibo post that “China needs to expand the number of its nuclear warheads to 1,000 in a relatively short time and procure at least 100 DF-41 strategic missiles.”
Last October, China had a massive military parade that displayed some of the country’s most advanced military equipment, including a supersonic drone, hypersonic missile and a robot submarine. But the huge intercontinental-range DF-41 ballistic missile took center stage in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Touted as the most powerful missile on the planet in China, the DF-41 is capable of carrying 10 independently targeted nuclear warheads and could theoretically hit the continental United States in 30 minutes, according to the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.