Washington (AFP) – China is expanding its nuclear power much faster than US officials predicted just a year ago, highlighting the broad and accelerating development of military power designed to allow Beijing to match or surpass US global power. of the last century, according to a Pentagon report released Wednesday.
The report said the number of Chinese nuclear warheads could rise to 700 within six years and exceed 1,000 by 2030. It did not specify how many warheads China currently has, but a year ago the Pentagon said the number was about 200 and that it was likely to double by the end of This contract.
By comparison, the United States has 3,750 nuclear weapons and does not plan to increase that number. As recently as 2003, the US total was about 10,000. The Joe Biden administration is conducting a detailed review of its nuclear policy and has not said how this might be affected by concerns about China.
The report does not mention open conflict with Beijing, but it does align with an emerging American narrative of Chinese armed forces determined to challenge the United States in all areas of warfare: air, land, sea, space, and cyber. Against this backdrop, US defense officials say they are increasingly skeptical of China’s intentions toward the status of Taiwan, the self-governing island that China claims as part of its territory.
“The (Chinese military)’s changing capabilities and perceptions continue to enhance China’s ability to ‘fight and win wars’ against a ‘strong enemy,’ perhaps a euphemism for the United States,” the report says, adding that it makes China more able to coerce Taiwan.
Wednesday’s report is the latest reminder to Congress, already wary of Beijing’s military ambitions, that the Pentagon’s repeated promises to focus more actively on countering China have progressed only incrementally past the talks stage. The Biden administration is expected to take another step by fulfilling its announcement in September of plans to increase the US military presence in Australia, as well as a controversial decision to help that country acquire nuclear submarines.
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