Rising geopolitical uncertainties between the US and China have been made worse by the pandemic as new rounds of tensions are unfolding on the heels of a possible flare-up of the trade war. The new reality is that Cold War 2.0 could be materializing as both countries fall into the Thucydides Trap, where a rising power (China) challenges the status quo power (the US). This often leads to a hot military conflict and both Washington and Beijing understand that could be a future reality.
Just one day after we reported an uptick in American long-range bomber activity over the East China Sea, the Global Times states on Friday (May 8) that Chinese military experts have urged Beijing to expand its nuclear arsenal as new measures to deter the US from the region.
Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin said China needs to immediately increase nuclear warhead stockpiles to 1,000 and focus on having 100 DF-41 ballistic missiles ready for use. Each DF-41 can carry a nuclear payload and strike London or the US.
Song Zhongping, a leading military expert in China, told the Times on Friday that Washington's ambitions in the Pacific region are "threatening China in all fields." He said the US no longer sees nuclear weapons as just a deterrence as they are being deployed on the battlefield, adding that China must increase its nuclear arsenal to combat this evolving threat.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was asked on Friday if China would produce more nuclear warheads and DF-41s. He responded by saying countries should have prioritized responsibility and an obligation to reduce strategic nuclear weapons."
Chunying said China operates under the "no first use" rule when it comes to nuclear weapons.
"China views nuclear weapons only as strategic deterrence, but any deterrence needs to be strong enough to halt military aggression toward China," analysts told the Times.
Beijing-based military expert Wei Dongxu told the Times on Friday that increased nuclear weapons would be used as deterrence against "major powers from taking reckless action." He asserted that China must exercise its right as a major power to use "nuclear deterrence capabilities appropriate to its position and strategic interests."
This comes at a time when the Pentagon has not just ramped up the freedom of navigation sails around the South China Sea and increased reconnaissance flights across the area, but also as the Trump administration is attempting to pin the outbreak of the pandemic on a biosafety laboratory in China.
President Trump's rhetoric directed at China also comes ahead of a presidential election where his administration is attempting to shift anger of a crashed economy and virus-related deaths of more than 75,000 Americans on Beijing and the lab. This will undoubtedly create more tensions between both countries heading into the summer months.