- The US keeps informal ties and defence ties with Taiwan and has a policy of "strategic ambiguity" about whether it would respond militarily if the island was attacked.
- The Chinese military has the confidence and ability to stop any outside interference and separatist plots for Taiwan independence" and bring about the full reunification of the motherland.
China sticks to its policy of not using nuclear weapons first “at any time and under any circumstances,” its Defense Ministry said Tuesday in a harsh response to a US report that said Beijing was building up its nuclear capabilities in a big way. The Pentagon’s annual China security report came out last week. It said that Beijing is likely to have 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 and hasn’t said how it plans to use them.
In a statement, ministry spokesperson Tan Kefei said that the report “distorts China’s national defence policy and military strategy, makes unfounded assumptions about China’s military development, and heavily interferes in China’s internal affairs on the issue of Taiwan.”
Tan said that the US was the “biggest troublemaker and destroyer of world peace and stability.” He also said that Beijing has never given up on using force to take over Taiwan, a US ally that China considers to be part of its territory.
Tan didn’t directly address the report’s claims about a Chinese nuclear buildup, but he did blame the US for increasing nuclear tensions, especially with its plan to help Australia build a fleet of submarines powered by US nuclear technology, which the French president has called a “confrontation with China.”
Australia has said that it will not try to put nuclear weapons on the submarines. Tan also said that the US had the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, but that title goes to Russia, which is a close military, economic, and diplomatic partner of China.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia will have 5,977 nuclear warheads in 2022, while the US will only have 5,428. The federation says that China has 350 nuclear warheads right now.
China has had what it calls a “purely defensive” national security strategy for a long time. For example, it says it will never be the first country to use nuclear weapons in a war. This point of view has been questioned both at home and abroad, especially when it comes to a fight over Taiwan.
Tan said in the statement, which was posted on the ministry’s website, that “what needs to be emphasised is that China firmly follows the nuclear strategy of self-defense and defence, always sticks to the policy of no first use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and keeps its nuclear force at the minimum level required for national security.”
His comments came a few days after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the US and China are at a turning point and that the US will need military power to make sure that American values, not Beijing’s, set the rules for the world in the 21st century.
Austin’s speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday was the last event of a week in which the Pentagon was very focused on China’s rise and what that might mean for the United States’ place in the world.
Austin said that China is the only country that has both the will and, more and more, the power to change its region and the international order to fit its authoritarian goals. “Let me be clear: We won’t let that happen,” he said.
Austin was at a dramatic rollout of the US military’s new nuclear stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider, at night on Friday. The B-21 Raider is meant to compete with Beijing’s rapidly growing cyber, space, and nuclear capabilities.
The bomber is a part of a big nuclear overhaul that is being done with China in mind. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the whole project will cost USD 1.2 trillion through 2046.
When US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went to Taiwan in August, it made things even worse between Washington and Beijing, which were already tense. China fired missiles over the island and held war games, which were seen as practise for a possible blockade of the island.
Due to Beijing’s wishes, the US and Taiwan don’t have formal diplomatic ties. However, the US keeps informal ties and defence ties with Taiwan and has a policy of “strategic ambiguity” about whether it would respond militarily if the island was attacked.
China has become more hard-line on military issues, even though it has taken some steps to improve relations. After Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Wei Fenghe, met for the first time last month, the Chinese government said in a statement, “The US is to blame for the current state of China-US relations, not the Chinese.”
In his comments about Taiwan, Tan said, “The Chinese military has the confidence and ability to stop any outside interference and separatist plots for Taiwan independence” and bring about the full reunification of the motherland.