China Expanding Nuclear Arsenal to Threaten US: New Defense Strategy

China Expanding Nuclear Arsenal to Threaten US: New Defense Strategy
Military vehicles carrying hypersonic DF-17 missiles travel past Tiananmen Square during a military parade in Beijing on Oct. 1, 2019. (Jason Lee/Reuters)
Andrew Thornebrooke

Communist China is developing its nuclear forces to threaten the United States and shield its authoritarian ambitions, according to the Biden administration’s newly published National Defense Strategy.

The new National Defense Strategy document (pdf), released on Oct. 27, highlights China’s communist regime as “the most comprehensive and serious challenge to U.S. national security” and directs political and military leaders to “act urgently to sustain and strengthen U.S. deterrence” against the regime.

Of particular note is the document’s advisory that China is developing new nuclear weapons in order to threaten the United States, possibly by preparing for a nuclear first strike.

“The PRC is increasing its capability to threaten the United States and our Allies and partners with nuclear weapons,” the strategy states, using an acronym for the official name of communist China, the People’s Republic of China.

“The range of nuclear options available to the PRC leadership will expand in the years ahead, allowing it potentially to adopt a broader range of strategies to achieve its objectives, to include nuclear coercion and limited nuclear first use.”

The strategy also warns that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a single-party state, has aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Russia and that the need to deter two nuclear powers simultaneously would test the limits of U.S. nuclear capabilities.

“The PRC has embarked on an ambitious expansion, modernization, and diversification of its nuclear forces and established a nascent nuclear triad,” the guidance states. “The PRC likely intends to possess at least 1,000 deliverable warheads by the end of the decade.

“The United States and its Allies and partners will increasingly face the challenge of deterring two major powers with modern and diverse nuclear capabilities—the PRC and Russia—creating new stresses on strategic stability.”

Experts have long warned that the CCP’s nuclear breakout could undermine U.S. deterrence efforts, as the capabilities and posture of U.S. nuclear forces were designed specifically to counter Russia alone.

To that end, the strategy also states that the CCP is engaged in “acute forms of gray zone coercion” against the United States, its allies, and its partners. Moreover, it states that the regime is attempting to dramatically expand its overseas military presence by establishing new bases and signing new security treaties.

“The PRC and Russia now pose more dangerous challenges to safety and security at home, even as terrorist threats persist,” the strategy reads.

The strategy also states that the CCP is engaged in a systemic and “increasingly aggressive” effort to challenge and undermine the United States. By doing so, the regime could reshape the global order “to suit its interests and authoritarian preferences.”

As such, the document states, the CCP is dramatically expanding and modernizing its military wing, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Moreover, this growth is being pursued for the explicit purpose of targeting U.S. and allied defenses.

“The PRC has expanded and modernized nearly every aspect of the PLA, with a focus on offsetting U.S. military advantages,” the strategy states.

“The PLA seeks to target the ability of the Joint Force to project power to defend vital U.S. interests and aid our Allies in a crisis or conflict.”

Andrew Thornebrooke is a national security correspondent for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.