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China’s strategy in its nuclear weapons buildup

China’s Nuclear Gambit

Don’t be distracted by the aerial incursions and naval build-ups – the real action is China’s nuclear build-up, in the hopes of deterring any U.S. intervention in a regional conflict. The Diplomat, By Valerie Niquet, November 06, 2021

 ”……………………………….. Anxious not to suffer the fate of the Soviet Union, China has always refused to be dragged into an unwinnable arms race with the United States. A guaranteed second-strike nuclear capability is enough to achieve China’s objectives. But that objective is threatened by U.S. conventional precision strike capabilities, superiority in next-generation ISR, and ballistic missile defense developments at the regional level. This last aspect threatens the deterrent effect of China’s nuclear-capable middle-range ballistic missiles, which can target U.S. bases in Asia as well as the United States’ closest allies in the region.

China’s nuclear doctrine and objectives have not changed fundamentally. Credible nuclear capabilities have always been part of China’s strategy of deterrence and anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) against the United States. By reinforcing the credibility and certainty of its second-strike capability, China expects to deter the United States from intervening in a regional conflict, for example, Taiwan’s “reunification” by force or grey zone tactics. China wants to assert its capacity in order to make use of a set of pressure tactics, using public opinion in the United States as well as among U.S. allies such as Japan. In the event of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait, Japan would be very nearly on the frontline. However, Japan is also extremely risk-averse and vulnerable to threats of missile strikes from China.

To win in a regional conflict, China must maintain pressure to dissuade the United States from intervention by using the threat of escalation, to make the  idea of intervention impossible to fathom. China is playing on reticence among the U.S. public to engage in asymmetric wars, where one side projects a high level of will when the other seems to be less involved. China is betting on a “Munich moment,” relying on its nuclear capabilities to keep any future conflict local or even under the threshold of war, thereby winning without fighting.

The acceleration of silo construction and the testing of new “game-changing” arms are all part of a nuclear signaling game in times of peace that serve to demonstrate China’s determination and impress the adversary. By increasing these capacities, China is testing the sole guarantor of strategic stability in Asia, the United States, and the will of the U.S. to intervene…..

November 6, 2021 - Posted by | China, politics international, weapons and war

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