China on Tuesday slammed a Pentagon report that the size of Beijing’s nuclear arsenal would more than triple by 2035 as “unfounded speculation” and accused Washington of “exaggerating” the military threat posed by the world’s most populous country.
Last week, the US Department of Defense released its annual report on China’s military strength, saying China’s military is likely to possess nearly 1,400 nuclear warheads by 2035, at its current rate of expansion.
However, this stockpile remains far below the United States and Russia, which possess thousands of nuclear warheads.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said today that the report “distorts China’s defense policy and military strategy, unfounded speculation about China’s military development … and a familiar (US) trick to mislead and exaggerate the China’s so-called military threat”.
“The United States is making accusations and speculating about the modernization of China’s nuclear forces, when in reality is that it should revise and think deeply about its nuclear policy,” Tan added.
The Pentagon report also said that China’s practices “in the Indo-Pacific region are increasingly coercive and aggressive.”
The report believes that the army “is likely to continue its military pressure, along with diplomatic, media and economic pressure, in an effort to force Taiwan to unite.”
Tan said on Tuesday that this constituted “flagrant interference” in China’s internal affairs regarding its stance on Taiwan, one of the reasons for the decline in US-China relations.
In August, Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the US House of Representatives, visited Taiwan, in an incident that heightened tensions. China responded by conducting unprecedented military maneuvers in the surrounding waters and launched a series of missiles, some of which landed, according to in Japan, in its exclusive economic zone.
The US report stated that “the Chinese military has increased its provocative and destabilizing activities in and around the Taiwan Strait, including… conducting maneuvers focused on the possible seizure of one of the remote islands of Taiwan”, referring to that incident.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and senior military officials reiterate that China’s eventual “unification” with Taiwan is inevitable and have hardened their rhetoric to include the possibility of its capture by military force.
And last October, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that China was “determined to achieve unification in a much faster timescale” than anticipated in precedence.
The United States pledged to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself in case of invasion, but remain vague on the issue of military intervention.
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