The DEFCON Warning System™

Ongoing GeoIntel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.  DEFCON Level assessment issued for public notification.  Established 1984.

Get Ready For a New Arms Race: Why Nuclear Strategic Stability Won’t Work With China

hina’s expansion of nuclear weapons has not received the attention it deserves due to its threat to U.S. interests and for strategic stability. China’s actions undermine the ability of the United States to deter attacks against the United States, to extend deterrence to its allies, and to protect its interests. Strategic stability results when both or all sides in a deterrence relationship have little incentive to race for superiority. During the dénouement of the Cold War, strategic stability obtained for the United States and Russia. However, strategic stability will not obtain with respect to China for three reasons.

First, while the common estimate of China’s nuclear weapons is approximately three hundred, due to China’s lack of transparency, it is possible that China has significantly more than this estimate. This month, there have been calls within China for expanding its nuclear arsenal to one thousand strategic warheads, to say nothing of nuclear weapons on intermediate-range or other forces. While the United States has taken a “strategic holiday,” the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has used the opportunity to expand their arsenals, as well as cyber and conventional capabilities. When one reflects upon the considerable effort to create strategic systems, as well as cyber and conventional capabilities, inescapable conclusions are, first, that the causes of their expansion is rooted in their own grand strategic objectives of achieving hegemony and, second, the decision to expand their forces was sown long ago. China has used our strategic passivity to expand.  What Reagan’s Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger said in the Soviet context remains true today: “When we build, they build, when we stop, they build.” 

The growth of Chinese arsenals cannot be divorced from other evidence of China’s expansion. They are expanding their bases, for example, in Djibouti and Gwadar, and alliance networks including through the Belt and Road Initiative and “debt diplomacy,” the creation of new international institutions to supplant extant ones, and aggressive intelligence operations.  

Read more at National Interest

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Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.

© 2024 The DEFCON Warning System. Established 1984.

The DEFCON Warning System is a private intelligence organization which has monitored and assessed nuclear threats by national entities since 1984. It is not affiliated with any government agency and does not represent the alert status of any military branch. The public should make their own evaluations and not rely on the DEFCON Warning System for any strategic planning. At all times, citizens are urged to learn what steps to take in the event of a nuclear attack.