I’m skeptical of the 90% of the spin in the Wall Street Journal article which attributes this as a response to the Ukraine conflict.
The Chinese nuclear effort long predates Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the U.S.’s wariness about getting directly involved in the war there has likely reinforced Beijing’s decision to put greater emphasis on developing nuclear weapons as a deterrent, some of these people say. Chinese leaders see a stronger nuclear arsenal as a way to deter the U.S. from getting directly involved in a potential conflict over Taiwan.
Part of that may be plausible.
The truly significant part though is that China’s accelerating buildup suggests that it expects an imminent conflict.
Among recent developments, work has accelerated this year on more than 100 suspected missile silos in China’s remote western region that could be used to house nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the U.S., according to analysts that study satellite images of the area.
American leaders have said the thinking behind China’s nuclear advance is unclear. Independent security analysts who study nuclear proliferation say they are also in the dark about what is driving Beijing after exchanges between Chinese officials and analysts mostly dried up in the past few years.
The answer is pretty clear.
China expects to need a larger nuclear arsenal with which to stalemate, blackmail or intimidate another nuclear power, and realistically it’s a short list.
China is an ongoing conflict with India, but it’s not likely to be engaging in a major nuclear buildup for that. It has plenty of nukes with which to intimidate India. While the Russia-China relationship is complex and has tensions, realistically China expects to intimidate America. And Taiwan and various Chinese expansionist plans are the issues likely to trigger any kind of showdown.
This is why Biden’s mishandling of the Ukraine war by sending mixed messages and showing weakness has been a disaster.
The likeliest way to stumble into a war is by sending mixed messages and showing weakness whether or not you want a war.