The U.S. Pentagon has released a report on China’s military power, indicating that China is expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal at a faster rate than previously estimated. This report also suggests that China may be drawing lessons from Russia’s conflict in Ukraine for potential scenarios related to Taiwan. Here’s a breakdown of the key points:
Accelerated Nuclear Arsenal Growth
- The Pentagon report highlights that China’s nuclear force is growing at an accelerated pace.
- Last year, it was predicted that China could nearly quadruple its number of nuclear warheads to 1,500 by 2035.
- The 2023 report suggests that China is on track to have over 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030.
- China’s aim is to modernize its military to become “world-class” by 2049.
No First Use Policy
- While China maintains a “no first use” policy for nuclear weapons, the U.S. does not adhere to such a policy.
- The Pentagon has not observed any shift in China’s stance but notes that there might be exceptions in certain circumstances.
Military Pressure on Taiwan
- China has been exerting military, diplomatic, and economic pressure on Taiwan.
- This includes ballistic missile overflights, increased warplane incursions into Taiwan’s defense zone, and large-scale military exercises encircling Taiwan.
- China has declared its intent to bring Taiwan under its control, even by force if necessary.
U.S. Support for Taiwan
- The U.S. has provided substantial military assistance to Taiwan to bolster its defenses against potential aggression.
China’s Defense Budget
- China’s military spending in 2023 reportedly increased by 7.2% to $216 billion USD, exceeding its economic growth.
- Some sources suggest that the actual spending could be higher.
- China maintains that its military policy is defensive.
Regional Tensions and U.S. Activities
- China has been increasingly assertive in the region, intercepting U.S. military flights and conducting military exercises.
- The report highlights over 180 instances where Chinese aircraft aggressively intercepted U.S. military flights.