Xi Jinping’s enthusiasm for nuclear weapons threatens to upset the nuclear balance in Asia. According to current figures from the Swedish peace institute Sipri, the number of China’s nuclear bombs increased from 350 to 410 last year. With around 12,500 nuclear weapons in storage, the world is still a long way from the peak of 70,000 warheads in the 1980s. However, the number of operational warheads has increased by 86 in the past year.
In Asia, apart from the People’s Republic, India and Pakistan are in possession of nuclear warheads. Pakistan and China are allies, while India is at odds with both countries. Xi’s quest for nuclear omnipotence is mainly due to his obsession with wanting to surpass the United States in everything, or at least equal it. New Delhi, however, is referring to China’s nuclear stockpiling and will, for its part, try to counter a threat scenario emanating from Beijing. China is at odds with India over the border between the two countries in the Himalayas. A battle broke out in 2020 in which soldiers died on both sides.
Xi wants to turn the People’s Republic into a veritable nuclear power
Xi Jinping is persistently working on his plan to turn the People’s Republic into a veritable nuclear power. As early as the end of July 2021, international media reported on a place in the desert 1,200 kilometers west of Beijing, where 120 new silos for rockets with nuclear explosives had been built. These silos are located in the eastern part of Xinjiang province, which has made headlines for Xi Jinping’s genocide against the Uyghur minority there. Another such field was discovered earlier this year in eastern China. More than 100 silos are said to have been built there. Satellite images were shown to support this claim.
Here, as in many other places, President Xi broke with the policy of his predecessors, who did not want to involve China in a global arms race with nuclear weapons. That’s why China only had 20 such silos before Xi’s change of course. It is not clear if all of these silos will be loaded with nuclear missiles or if parts of them will be left empty in order to confuse the enemy and not reveal where the nuclear devices really are. If all of them are loaded, it is estimated that between 400 and 800 warheads could be installed in the two new silo fields.
With this move, the People’s Republic is ending its policy of “minimal deterrence,” the term for a country that possesses just as many nuclear warheads as it needs to deter enemies from launching a nuclear strike. India and Pakistan had also committed themselves to this “minimal deterrence”.
Friendship without limits
Chinese state media are accompanying this step and, following the line of the CP, justify it by referring to a security situation in which Western powers could be ready at any time to attack China in order to end its economic success. Chinese propaganda echoes Russian propaganda here, claiming that Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine was a reaction to “Western provocations.” As Xi and Putin have embarked on a friendship without limits, the world community is watching with interest the statements made by the two dictators regarding the use of their nuclear weapons.
China’s rulers, without addressing the Kremlin directly, pointed out that in their opinion the use of such weapons of mass destruction should be avoided. At the same time, the two dictators are so committed to each other that, together with their arsenal of weapons and military technology, they could challenge the United States and its allies at any time. Beijing’s actions are reminiscent of the nuclear arms race during the Cold War and do not really reduce a simmering threat of nuclear war between the two powers.
The reports from Washington that Beijing is operating a listening station in Cuba fit the picture of this historical comparison and paint the picture of a ruler who is striving for world domination at all levels.