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China Is Building Lots of Nuclear Weapons

Yao Dawei/Xinhua via AP

The media is concentrated on Ukraine. The war has been raging for weeks. The bodies are mounting. We have endless reports of Russian atrocities. The pressure for a more robust Western response is pervasive. I have no doubt that Russian troops are committing atrocities, but the Ukrainians are using these heinous stories to back us into a situation that could end up devolving into nuclear war. I’m totally fine with continued efforts to rearm and resupply the Ukrainians, but troop deployments and no-fly zones are not going to happen. As we’re tied down in Ukraine, China has been watching the whole situation from afar. They’re eyeing Taiwan. I hope the Biden foreign policy team realizes that, along with the notion that Beijing is not our friend. 


Biden’s foreign policy crew got played when they tried to pressure Moscow through Beijing. We shared information about Russia’s troop deployments near the Ukraine border. China ended up sharing this information with the Russians. It was a three-month dance that once again showed the appalling naivete of this administration. When your boss has been wrong for four decades on foreign policy, are we shocked? 

With Biden tied down in Ukraine, China has decided to inject some steroids into its nuclear weapons program. They need a deterrent of their own with regards to the US and Beijing’s ambitions concerning Taiwan (via WSJ):

China has accelerated an expansion of its nuclear arsenal because of a change in its assessment of the threat posed by the U.S., people with knowledge of the Chinese leadership’s thinking say, shedding new light on a buildup that is raising tension between the two countries.

The Chinese nuclear effort long predates Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the U.S.’s wariness about getting directly involved in the war there has likely reinforced Beijing’s decision to put greater emphasis on developing nuclear weapons as a deterrent, some of these people say. Chinese leaders see a stronger nuclear arsenal as a way to deter the U.S. from getting directly involved in a potential conflict over Taiwan.

Among recent developments, work has accelerated this year on more than 100 suspected missile silos in China’s remote western region that could be used to house nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the U.S., according to analysts that study satellite images of the area.

American leaders have said the thinking behind China’s nuclear advance is unclear. Independent security analysts who study nuclear proliferation say they are also in the dark about what is driving Beijing after exchanges between Chinese officials and analysts mostly dried up in the past few years.


China plans to maintain an arsenal no larger than necessary to ensure China’s security interests, they said, adding that the Chinese military believes its nuclear weapons are too outdated to present an effective deterrent against a potential U.S. nuclear strike.

“China’s inferior nuclear capability could only lead to growing U.S. pressure on China,” one person close to the leadership said.


The risk of miscalculations this time could be higher, however, because while the U.S. and Soviet Union communicated about their nuclear weapons during arms control talks from the late 1980s, the Chinese program and Beijing’s thinking on the role of nuclear weapons has been shrouded in secrecy. China has declined to engage in nuclear arms control talks with the U.S., saying Washington should first reduce its nuclear inventory.

U.S. government and private sector estimates put China’s nuclear arsenal in the low hundreds of warheads, far below the roughly 4,000 warheads held by both Russia and the U.S. The Pentagon says it now expects China to have 1,000 warheads by the end of this decade.


China is also reportedly worried about US efforts to topple the regime. That’s not new. Any authoritarian government needs an outside threat to maintain its credibility and that of its police state. It’s the perfect pivot to any lingering domestic issues. The mass mobilization of the state towards building or strengthening areas relating to the national defense. Can Biden guide us through this? I don’t think he can. I also want to know what was said between Biden and Xi over the Ukraine War when it seemed possible that China could supply Russia with military equipment. Yes, I know they’re classified communications, but Trump’s calls were leaked constantly. I want to know what was said because I bet the word salad was delicious. 

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