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‘CCP Wants to Be the Most Powerful Force on Earth’: Rick Fisher on China’s Nuclear Ambition

In this special episode, we delve into China’s growing nuclear ambition, where it could lead in the future, what it means for the world, and how it’s different from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

We sat down with Patty-Jane Geller, policy analyst of nuclear deterrence and missile defense at the Heritage Foundation, and Rick Fisher, senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

Fisher said, “China wants global nuclear superiority because it wants to achieve global political and economic and military hegemony on Earth. It wants to be the most—the Chinese Communist Party wants to be the most powerful force on Earth so that it can set the rules, so that it can control your economic future, your political future, your security—not just in China, but the whole world.”

Geller said, “It’s important to remember that brute force and having a strong defense is critical. But it’s not the only thing. The reason it’s critical is because it enables us to use other tools like diplomacy. If we have a strong nuclear force, it’s easier for our diplomats to go engage, knowing that we have the backing of a strong defense. And so that’s, I think that’s part of the reason we need to make sure we have strong forces because we want to be able to solve crises with tools like diplomacy or, you know, economic sanctions, not actually using force. So I think I always emphasize when I write and speak that we need to be modernizing our own nuclear force and at the same time pursuing diplomacy with China to try to get them to come and negotiate and discuss its ambitions, to try to find some sort of agreement that can help improve stability.”

Geller added, “What’s going on right now in the U.S. is that we’re having a debate over replacing our old nuclear weapons. We call it nuclear modernization. So all of our current forces right now are warheads, and our delivery systems like our missiles and our submarines were built during the Cold War, our ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles] were designed in the 1960s up before the internet even existed, so they’re really old. So what we’re trying to do right now is just replace those systems with ones built in the 21st century, which is kind of something simple we really ought to get done because the older that our weapons get, the less likely that they are to work as intended. But unfortunately, we’re having to debate for even replacing those old weapons in the first place. There’s a camp out there that argues that we shouldn’t replace our old missiles. For instance, we should just let them continue with age and age out so that we don’t have them anymore. So I think personally, we should be having the debate of how we can adjust our nuclear force posture to adjust to what China’s doing.”

And if China succeeds with its nuclear ambitions?

Fisher said, “Well, we would have to ask the Uyghurs in the concentration camps what kind of future they have. We should ask the poor citizens of Hong Kong, ‘What is the future that you expect as your freedoms are being torn down in front of your eyes?’ We’ll have an opportunity to ask the people of Taiwan when a million Chinese troops invade their country and start murdering their people. This is the future that the Chinese Communist Party holds for everybody. We should always remember the Chinese Communist Party has already massacred 70 million people, 70 million Chinese. So I really don’t think that they have that much more regard for the rest of us. If China achieves global hegemony, I think we already have the answers about what to expect: death and more death.”

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