The Rising Chinese Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

China’s nuclear force modernisation also impacts its defence relations with India. China’s extensive military reforms have placed considerable pressure on Indian authorities to ramp up their military infrastructure and improve the country’s defence capabilities. According to a published recently by Yang Chengjun, China has deployed an early missile warning system which allows the PLARF to detect nuclear missiles launched at mainland China and counterattack using their own nuclear weapons within minutes. Kristensen and Korda’s analysis on ‘Indian nuclear forces, 2020’ also posits a potential shift in India’s nuclear strategy, which has primarily focused on Pakistan, towards an emphasis on China. As seen with the new Agni missiles with their range to strike Beijing, India’s current and future nuclear strategy decisions do place importance on China’s growing nuclear capabilities and modernisation.

China’s modernisation efforts for its nuclear arsenal have added to the destabilisation of an already weak global nuclear order. Although, there has been an overall reduction in nuclear warheads of nuclear weapons states, the non-proliferation regime has been consistently hit with setbacks in international agreements and bilateral co-operation. With the collapse of several international agreements that pushed for non-proliferation, it becomes evident that the lack of engagement between nuclear weapons states is dangerous and it is necessary for greater engagement with instruments that curb nuclear arms ambitions and promote non-proliferation. With China’s increasingly assertive military strategy, the risk levels have also risen. Although China has rejected any interest in a multilateral arms reduction agreement with Russia and United States, there is a need to push for a strategic dialogue that involves China with the international nuclear community. Given the rising regional animosity in South Asia and tensions between China and the US, the international community cannot ignore the adverse effects of a more aggressive arms race. Therefore, any attempt to move towards non-proliferation requires China’s involvement in measures to pursue nuclear disarmament.

The views expressed above belong to the author(s).

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