Let's tone down the rhetoric on China and try genuine dialogue
The rhetoric is ratcheting up popular nationalist reactions in both countries that may close off diplomatic options. There are dangerous implications if dialogue between the world's two most powerful nations is inhibited by domestic politics. Territorial claims by China in the South China Sea could lead to naval conflict. China is fast developing a nuclear arsenal. A peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue may no longer be viable. China has been an ally in the effort to revive the nuclear agreement with Iran and can be helpful in Afghanistan. And the U.S.
After a summer of extraordinarily bad news on the exponential growth of China’s strategic nuclear forces, recent public statements by U.S. government officials indicate Beijing isn’t only building out its nuclear forces, but also diversifying it, by considering new, nontraditional weapons, as well as possibly reconsidering its nuclear deterrent doctrine.
That’s an awful lot of troubling news in a few short months—on top of the already tense relationship between Beijing and Washington over a whole raft of other issues.
China Unveils Homegrown Warplanes, Combat Drones and Space Tech at Air Show
The highly watched 13th Zhuhai Airshow kicked off on Tuesday with the unveiling of new military drones and a modified strike fighter for electronic warfare.The biennial China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Guangdong province—also known as the Zhuhai Airshow—is the largest of its kind in the country and takes place following an unusual three-year gap due to the pandemic. Remaining public health measures mean the number of foreign visits were also scaled down for the 13th edition, which is taking place between September 28 and October 3.
While public details are currently few on this matter, two senior U.S. officials recently noted that China is looking at developing novel nuclear weapons, possibly similar in scope to the efforts of Russia.
Moscow has been developing several unique—or so-called exotic—strategic weapons in recent years.
Moscow’s list includes an intercontinental ballistic missile launched with a hypersonic vehicle, a nuclear-powered intercontinental torpedo, a nuclear-powered cruise missile, and air- and sea-based hypersonic weapons.
China seems to be following in Russia’s fissile footsteps.
In July, the U.S. permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Ambassador Robert Wood, said this of China’s People’s Liberation Army: “They’re pursuing weapons similar to some of the nuclear-powered delivery systems that the Russians have been pursuing.”
What Washington's China Consensus Obscures
Dissent is prevalent in Washington. Maybe that’s a good thing.The reasons for this emerging consensus are seemingly obvious. Economically and militarily, not to mention in terms of democracy, freedom, and human rights, Beijing is seen by lawmakers in Washington as an existential threat to U.S. interests—so much so that both the Trump and Biden administrations made taking a tougher stance on China among their top foreign-policy priorities.
If true, Wood is likely referring to Russia’s new nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed torpedo, the Poseidon, and the new nuclear-powered cruise missile, the Burevestnik, both being developed to overcome current U.S. missile defenses at intercontinental ranges.
Referring to the propriety of developing a nuclear-powered missile, a Trump administration official once vividly described the Burevestnik as a “flying Chernobyl,” due to the likely radioactive effluent it would release into the atmosphere en route to its target, potentially harming those it flies over.
Echoing Wood, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Bonnie Jenkins in September noted China’s unprecedented nuclear buildup, saying at a NATO conference:
[China’s] nuclear buildup, which has accelerated in the last year, now looks to include novel nuclear-powered capabilities and a massive increase of its silo-based ICBM forces.
Biden slips further back to failed China policies
Biden assumes he possesses sufficient personal charm and ability to overcome obstacles to cooperation with China's communist regime.Both statements were perfunctory, but on the PRC's 70th anniversary the year before, President Trump tweeted to China with more personal warmth: "Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China!" Although Trump at the time was trying to strike a favorable trade deal with Beijing, his message triggered a spate of criticism from across the ideological spectrum of the Republican Party.
Unfortunately, it gets worse.
It turns out that it’s not just about novel nuclear weapons and the large growth in land-based ICBM silos that should be of concern.
In September, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said at a conference that he thinks that China, with its robust nuclear expansion, is moving Beijing toward a “de facto first-strike capability.”
To followers of this issue, that should come as no surprise.
Civilian researchers revealed this summer that Beijing is building nearly 300 new ICBM silos. If those land-based silos are outfitted with the most modern Chinese ICBM, which are capable of carrying five to 10 nukes per missile warhead, China could match—if not exceed—the United States’ and Russia’s land-based, operational nuclear arsenal.
Think of it as a plan for nuclear parity-plus.
Beijing could also be moving beyond its long-standing “minimum deterrence” nuclear doctrine. That doctrine and its previous relatively small nuclear arsenal allowed Beijing to retaliate against a foe if attacked with nukes with a second strike of its surviving strategic forces, but not to be able to conduct a debilitating first strike against an opponent (e.g., the U.S. or Russia) due to the limited size of its nuclear force.
Taiwan Official Calls China Situation 'Most Severe' in Decades Amid Chinese Military Actions
"If Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system," Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said.China's People's Liberation Army capped off four days of sustained pressure in the region with a record-setting 56 planes flying off the coast of Taiwan Monday. While the flights occurred in international airspace, Taiwanese defense forces fear any escalation.
This minimum deterrence posture had been complemented by its “no first use” policy, which says it will not use nuclear weapons first in a conflict. Though China currently claims it still has this “no first use” policy, the extraordinary expansion and diversification of its nuclear forces rightly gives some pause.
Theoretically, the growth of China’s nuclear arsenal could give it a first-strike capability, encouraging it to cast aside its “no first use” policy, and potentially embracing a massive (preventive or preemptive) nuclear strike option against an adversary with the purpose of preventing a conventional military or nuclear response.
That’s significant, especially in light of the ongoing great power competition involving the U.S., China, and Russia.
While much still needs to be known about Chinese strategic capabilities and possible nuclear doctrine changes, with novel nuclear platforms possibly in the pipeline and more strategic weapons likely in its arsenal, China appears to have every intention of standing toe-to-toe on nukes with not only Russia, but the United States, too.
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Original Author:Peter Brookes
Original Location:On Nukes, China Aims for Parity With U.S.—or Maybe More
Taiwan tensions raise fears of US-China conflict in Asia .
BANGKOK (AP) — After sending a record number of military aircraft to harass Taiwan over China’s National Day holiday, Beijing has toned down the saber rattling but tensions remain high, with the rhetoric and reasoning behind the exercises unchanged. Experts agree a direct conflict is unlikely at the moment, but as the future of self-ruled Taiwan increasingly becomes a powder keg, a mishap or miscalculation could lead to confrontation while Chinese and American ambitions are at odds. China seeks to bring the strategically and symbolically important island back under its control, and the U.S. sees Taiwan in the context of broader challenges from China.“From the U.S.