The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is engaged in a dangerous and destabilizing game as it works to at least double the size of its nuclear arsenal this decade. In a recent op-ed, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote, “Beijing refuses to disclose how many nuclear weapons it has, how many it plans to develop, or what it plans to do with them. It is the least transparent of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.”
Despite the Chinese Communist Party’s secrecy, the world does know that Beijing is pursuing a nuclear triad on land, in the air, and at sea and that it is rapidly expanding and modernizing its capabilities, while simultaneously refusing to even engage the United States in a meaningful dialogue on these developments.
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Satellite imagery shows the People’s Liberation Army’s advances toward building a world-class military by 2049. A recent PLA military parade showcased the Dongfeng-41 missile, which could strike America’s shores in 30 minutes. “The PLA,” said Secretary Pompeo, “will deploy this missile in silos and on mobile platforms in the near future and we expect that, if current trends hold, China will at least double its total nuclear arsenal in the next decade.”
In addition to its expanding strategic nuclear forces, the PLA has fielded more than a thousand ballistic missiles near its coast. Many of these weapons can be armed with nuclear as well as conventional warheads. Secretary Pompeo has warned that they are intended to target U.S. forces in East Asia and to intimidate U.S. allies, and support the PRC’s coercive foreign policies.
Beijing’s nuclear posture is becoming more aggressive, threatening its non-nuclear neighbors and calling into question its ambiguous “No First Use” policy. By contrast, the United States and other democracies uphold transparency and respect for international nuclear weapons norms and are working to develop and advance credible arms control proposals to prevent a nuclear arms race. “We participate in robust and reliable crisis communication networks with other nuclear powers, and we’ve encouraged Beijing to do the same,” said Secretary Pompeo.
Secretary Pompeo urged the PRC’s leaders to join with the United States and Russia in crafting a new arms control agreement covering all categories of nuclear weapons.
Secretary Pompeo urged America’s friends to speak out.“Too many countries, including champions of arms control who depend on America’s nuclear deterrence capabilities, remain publicly silent about Beijing’s buildup.”
History is clear: Great powers, including the PRC, must behave responsibly with the world’s most dangerous weapons. Countries that appease irresponsible governments or acquiesce in their actions inevitably suffer the consequences. (VOA)