Military vehicles carrying JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles drive past Tiananmen Square,October 2019. Thomas Peter / Reuters
Debates on the future of nuclear arms control have increasingly focused on two key aspects: how to address a more diverse range of weapon systems and how to include more parties beyond the US and Russia. The latter has predominantly meant China. Among the five recognized nuclear- weapon states under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), China is the only state that has increased its nuclear arsenal, albeit in small quantities. China has also been modernizing and expanding its types of delivery systems. Some of them can carry nuclear or conventional warheads, which increases the risk of inadvertent escalation in a crisis. Moreover, the nuclear dimension of the US-China relationship will inevitably grow as the strategic competition between Washington and Beijing intensifies on other fronts, notably in terms of a conventional arms race.