Blinken Deeply Concerned About China’s Rapidly Growing Nuclear Arsenal
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a group of foreign ministers on Friday that he is deeply concerned about the rapid growth of China nuclear arsenal.
Blinken made the remarks during a virtual meeting with the regional forum by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, according to the Department of State. He called on China to stop its “provocative” behavior in the South China sea and raised concerns about human rights abuses in Tibet, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang, according to a summary of the remarks released by the State Department.
“The Secretary also noted deep concern with the rapid growth of the [People’s Republic of China]’s nuclear arsenal which highlights how Beijing has sharply deviated from its decades-old nuclear strategy based on minimum deterrence,” the department said.
China will have about 250 new underground facilities for housing and launching intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), once it is done building them, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) said in a report released on July 26. That number, according to the think tank, is more than all of the silo-based ICBMs operated by Russia and about half of America’s ICBM force.
“The Chinese missile silo program constitutes the most extensive silo construction since the US and Soviet missile silo construction during the Cold War,” the report stated.
The United States and Russia have long attempted to but have not succeeded at bringing China into a nuclear arms deal.
The Department of Defense estimated in 2020 that China’s nuclear warhead stockpile in “the low 200s.” The report estimated the stockpile to double as China expands its nuclear forces. Analysts estimated that the United States has 3,800 warheads.
During a congressional hearing in April, U.S. Navy Admiral Charles Richard told Congress that China’s nuclear stockpile was undergoing an “unprecedented expansion” and Beijing was “on the pace necessary to double their nuclear stockpile by the end of the decade.”
In response to the new discovery of China’s silos, the U.S. Strategic Command said in a Twitter post: “the public has discovered what we have been saying all along about the growing threat the world faces and the veil of secrecy that surrounds it.”
Beijing says its arsenal is dwarfed by those of the United States and Russia and it is ready to conduct bilateral dialogues on strategic security “on the basis of equality and mutual respect.”
Blinken has taken part in a series of regional meetings this week at which he has sought to reinforce the U.S. message that it is serious about engaging with Asian countries to push back against Beijing.
Frank Fang and Reuters contributed to this report.