Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin unveiled several new nuclear weapons last week in a replay of the Cold War. China, meanwhile, is continuing a similar buildup of high-technology strategic nuclear forces that remains largely hidden from view.
Chinese secrecy about its nuclear forces and their use was a major theme of the Pentagon’s recently completed Nuclear Posture Review that outlined a new “tailored deterrence” policy for China.
The new plan is aimed at persuading Chinese leaders to avoid military miscalculations – like provocative actions in the South China Sea, or hostile activities related to Taiwan or Japan – that could quickly escalate into a nuclear exchange.
The unclassified posture review shed little light on the details of the buildup of China’s nuclear forces other than identifying what were called “entirely new nuclear capabilities.” They include several new types of missiles, including hypersonic weapons, satellite-killing missiles and regional intermediate-range nuclear forces.
The review takes note of the main threat of a nuclear war between the United States and China: A military encounter that escalates into a regional conflict culminating in a nuclear exchange involving China’s regional nuclear-armed missiles.
“Our tailored strategy for China is designed to prevent Beijing from mistakenly concluding that it could secure an advantage through the limited use of its theater nuclear capabilities, or that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is acceptable,” the review states.
The Pentagon did not specify how tailored deterrence would work. It warned that the United States “will maintain the capability to credibly threaten intolerable damage as Chinese leaders calculate costs and benefits, such that the costs incurred as a result of Chinese nuclear employment, at any level of escalation, would vastly outweigh any benefit.”
Strategic military planning for China, however, would likely seek to put at risk what Chinese leaders hold most dearly: Continued rule by the Communist Party of China. Thus, U.S. tailored deterrence would involve signaling to the Chinese leadership that any future conflict would result in the destruction of the Chinese Communist Party, and its military arm, the People’s Liberation Army.
Robust security for Chinese leaders
Chinese leadership statements and military writings make clear China probably understands that strategy, and the military has invested heavily in defending Party leaders.
The PLA has built robust leadership security systems that include networks of underground escape and transit systems to be used by senior Party leaders in a crisis or conflict.
For example, the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing, where Party leaders live and work, includes a terminal for a large underground tunnel and rail system that runs to a major command center west of the city known as the Western Hills. From that command center, other underground trains and tunnels lead to additional secure facilities in various parts of the country.
Unfortunately for the Chinese, U.S. intelligence agencies have known the locations of many of these leadership protection facilities. And the Pentagon has been developing precision-guided bombs and missiles capable of penetrating the underground bunkers and tunnels – putting China’s most valuable strategic assets at risk.
Beijing refuses to discuss its nuclear policies
One problem for the United States has been China’s repeated refusal to engage in official discussions that could make such deterrence goals clear.
“We have long sought a dialogue with China to enhance our understanding of our respective nuclear policies, doctrine, and capabilities; to improve transparency; and to help manage the risks of miscalculation and misperception,” the review says. “We hope that China will share this interest and that meaningful dialogue can commence.”
The reason China does not hold such talks is the Chinese view that any discussion of its strategic nuclear and non-nuclear capabilities – such as nuclear forces, space weapons and cyber-attack capabilities – as undermining deterrence.
That was disclosed several years ago in a classified State Department cable outlining a June 2008 meeting in Beijing. During the talks, U.S. officials called on China to be more open about its nuclear capabilities.
In response, China’s then-Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei responded that China’s nuclear forces were a “sensitive issue” and officials engaged in the talks did not even know the size of China’s nuclear arsenal. “Now is not the time for China to tell others what we have,” He Yafei said, adding that even revealing the size of the nuclear arsenal would “eliminate its deterrent value.”
Thus, excessive secrecy remains a hallmark of China’s approach to deterrence. By keeping its nuclear and non-nuclear military power secret, China calculates the United States will not risk a conflict without fully knowing what kind of weapons will be used.
The Pentagon’s new posture review, however, appears to be taking the Chinese strategic secrecy into account.
Pentagon expanding conditions for using nukes
Because China is developing new and formidable capabilities to threaten U.S. interests and those of allies and partners, the Pentagon is expanding the conditions for using nuclear forces in response to non-nuclear attacks, such as the destruction of satellites or devastating cyber attacks on power grids.
“The United States is prepared to respond decisively to Chinese non-nuclear or nuclear aggression,” the review says.
While continuing to seek “meaningful dialogue” with China, the United States will use military exercises that demonstrate nuclear strike capabilities, and, second, will increase the range of “graduated nuclear response options available to the president,” the review said.
China’s Defense Ministry reacted to the nuclear review with harsh criticism. Spokesman Ren Guoqiang, repeating standard Beijing propaganda, saying the review’s view of China as a threat was a reflection of American anti-communism.
“We hope the US side will discard its ‘cold-war mentality,’ shoulder its own special and primary responsibility for nuclear disarmament, understand correctly China’s strategic intentions and take a fair view on China’s national defense and military development,” he said.
American defense officials say the secret version of posture review includes details on the weapons of concern, including the growing arsenal of land-based missiles of various types and ranges, and the addition of multiple warheads that are both independently targetable and maneuverable.
China’s vast underground tunnel network
The secret review also addresses the numerous unknowns about China’s nuclear modernization program, such as total warheads in the stockpile, their location in the 3,000-mile long underground tunnel network known as the Great Underground War, and uncertainties about the chain of command and decision-making for using nuclear arms.
Most American intelligence analysts and military planners doubt the official Chinese declaratory policy of not being the first nation to use nuclear weapons in a conflict.
“While China’s declaratory policy and doctrine have not changed, its lack of transparency regarding the scope and scale of its nuclear modernization program raises questions regarding its future intent,” the review states.
All signs related to the Chinese nuclear buildup, especially the increase in both numbers and capabilities for short- and medium-range nuclear missiles, suggest Beijing is preparing to use its nuclear arsenal during the early phases of a conflict and not after a nuclear strike on China.
Like the United States, China appears to be planning to blend nuclear and conventional military power in tandem.
China, Russia increased nukes while US cut back
Thus, nuclear explosions in space designed to knock out U.S. intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and command and control systems could be a first use of nuclear arms early in a conflict.
Once satellites have been disabled, China’s formidable cyber forces would go to work attacking critical infrastructure, including attacks on the U.S. electric grid.
The US relies on its network of satellites to maintain a strategic edge over rivals. This is a target-rich environment for space-based weapons. Photo: Nasa image screen grab.
The review also accuses China of exploiting American nuclear weapons restraint, which took place during the administration of President Barack Obama when nuclear weapons were downgraded in U.S. defense strategy. While the US reduced nuclear arms, China and Russia both “moved in the opposite direction,” the review states.
Beijing’s nuclear build-up
The nuclear buildup is a central part of what Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping has announced the PLA will fully modernize by 2050. The weapons include a new road-mobile strategic intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a new multi-warhead version of its DF-5 silo-based ICBM, and its most advanced ballistic missile submarine armed with new submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM).
A new bomber is also planned that would provide Beijing with a complete nuclear triad.
The intermediate-range DF-26, a missile with precision guidance, is also one of the major strategic nuclear missiles that can strike both land and naval targets.
A further indication of China’s growing strategic offensive capabilities is the development of Chinese missile defenses.
While Beijing routinely criticizes American homeland missile defenses as destabilizing, China is secretly building two types of long-range missile defenses, a new mid-course defense against incoming ICBMs along with a sea-based mid-course defense and theater ballistic missiles defenses.
The new US deterrence policy is likely to remain wrapped in secrecy unless China changes its policy of not engaging in strategic talks with the United States.
Why growing Chinese nuclear threat? Sounds very insidiously biased to me! It is like being generically profiled as un-evolved monkey if you are black or a ISIS terrorist if you were a Muslim. Here it is like the Yellow Peril of the Chinese Exclusion Act of old! Or the White Australia Policy! It is White supremacist and superiority and World Sheriff all over again! How would you feel if you were not a white man reading all these diatribe? Would it not raise your angst and you wish that the worse karmic retribution should befall the warmonger writer like you? That you and your family should be cursed with worse things then the biblical scourges? Think before you write and fast easy money writing nonsense! Think of the greater peace and harmony of humanity and this world. Write about ‘Peace and Not War’. Do not flame the Dogs of War. But maybe you are a CIA agent that is why! You should write objectively and truthfully. Just say that there is a growing universal nuclear threat because of the resurgent U.S. Cold War with Russia and now the newly pivoted U.S. initiated Cold War with China? And if you have to portray China as the villain so so with vivid instances and evidence of actual wars fought with China as the aggressor! So big deal in speculation! And also you should compare whether the U.S. comes with a clean record in contrast, that it might not be otherwise an aggressor as such! Why not go through the historical records and establish how many wars the U.S. have been involved in since its inception as 13 colonies? Let me do the homework that you should have done. Look up http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41086.htm – and you will see that the U.S. has been at war for most of its 250 years as an imperialistic hegemone! Did God declare on the Bible that the U.S. or the West is his chosen one?
Everyone is a threat to the Americans. If there was no war or drumbeats for war, Americans would have no reason for being. As it stands, China and Russia have a no-first strike policy on nuclear weapons. In Russia’s case, only if it is attacked and faces existential threat, will it resort to nuclear strikes.The US refuses to adopt a similar posture, and, in fact, has been trying to install ABM system in Eastern Europe on Russia’s border, as well as in Korea (Thaad) and Japan to nullify MAD. It refuses to eschew pre-emptive strikes. Who poses a bigger threat?
Excellent. Well wrtitten!
All these diatribes by obvious CIA sponsored mouthpieces on this website really makes one wants to puke! They all take as a token that the US hegemon and her lackeys(esp the British one) should be the unchallengeable global cop. That no one else can be allowed to disturb the status quo which they have enjoyed for the last 60 years. Of course they did not reckon that in this short space of the last 20 years, a country like China which they have looked with disdain/contempt, would be able to progress to a level that could be on a par or even surpass them, both economically and militarily! On nuclear warheads parity, I would guess that the Chinese are still very much behind. Is there really a need to have parity? The last count the US is said to have something like 6000 nuclear warheads. So what? If it comes to lobbing those missiles, a few tens or hundreds launched from China would probably be more than enough to annihilate the entire US population and those of its lackeys. And since it is probably acknowledged that the US is far superior in possession of nuclear weapons, again the Yanks are displaying their arrogance to demand that China reveals to them the actual state of its nuclear inventory, or else…… So I surmise that if what the Nuclear Posture Review said about the Chinese not willing to be transparent/discuss, A. Rightly so. If China feels she in at present in an inferior position, she would not be that stupid to tell you too clearly about it B. Perhaps she has also taken a great liking, and aiming quietly to achieve the position of what Theodore Roosevelt said/advised, "Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far"? That she is honing a "stick" as big and as sharp compared to the US’ and its lackeys combined?
What growing China threat? The number of warheads has not increased significantly from 270 for more than 5 decades. 200 nukes are enough to destroy USA military bases and major cities completely,
The improvement in delivery has been modernised and improved, USA unilaterally started to install missile interception systems around China to render China’s ICBMs ineffective while retaining their some 5400 warheads and improving their delivery systems.
USA was warned that steps will be taken to retain the mutually assured destruction (MAD) balance two decades ago but refused to stop. Both Russia and China accordingly responded to US arms race.
Ken Kwan perfect discription of the mentallity of the us s. it will never change ,but it is tearring itself apart from within debt ridden.propgandized to the enth degree and over entertained and over fed!!!!
Quoting the Article:
"The Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review outlines a new ‘tailored deterrence’ policy that seeks to persuade Chinese leaders to avoid miscalculations – provocative action in the South China Sea, or hostile activity related to Taiwan or Japan – that could escalate into war."
A counter measure from China could include helping Venezuela dump the dollar in exchange for the Yuan. That should break American sanctions on Venezuela who has the largest conventional oil supply in the world.
Help Venezuela build refining plants that would refine her heavy oil. Few refiniries can handle her oil among them are in the US. Finally when Venezuela recovers, back her strong position against Israel and for Palestine.
Work with other markets such as the EU that transactions should be done using the EU, the Yuan and a basket of currencies.
Make it clear to America that the price of the South China sea includes the American Dollar and a growing presence of China and Russia in the new world.
How crazy is this article. China has 270 nuclear weapons, fewer than France. The US has 6,800.
AT is in danger of becoming another National Interest!
All you half-assed chi-comms can blow me. Your authoritarian gov’t is wielding capitalism in ways that make 1913 Imperial Germany look pussified. All the U.S. is doing is matching the threat. And when you clowns launch your sh!t it’ll be like 1914 Europe all over again. China might be better off going back to wearing the yoke of Mao’s collectivization. Go back to killing your own people – that’s what Communism is best at.
i guess you are unfamiliar with bill gertz and the vomit he enthusiastically spews to put food on the table.
What a pity! Please kindly read your commentary. It sounds like you are having a panic attack of anxiety. We are merely exchanging views like in a mock debate or trial. Nothing you and I say or what we personally believe in is going to affect the price of eggs in the supermarket let alone what the various leaders of our world will decide to do. We are nobody!
But still it is good fun to have the availability of a dialogue such as this forum so that we exchange our views respective without to eyeball each other with one hand ready to draw on the holster.
Thus the sanity of this remote repartee, so that we can be open and frank, but even if we should disagree we know that we do not know each other personally so we will not harbour any personal grudge beyond the words we express herein. But no need to get uptight for we are still learning in this process whether the Western democratic freedom of expression is a good thing. So far from your reaction, we might have to stick to our more genteel Confucian way of being inscrutable to avoid friction and conflict.
You have conveyed the impression, to me anyway, that if Trump is like you, I better prepare for Doomsday to arrive soon.
Do you think Trump has your fidgety temperament? I wonder?
I am glad that our Chinese leaders are remaining calm like a samurai sitting through his morning tea ceremony!
Can someone please check who owns ASIA TIMES? Why such a piece of disinformation can appear here? Or ASIA TIMES has become a "pay as you publish" kind of services?
Don’t forget this guy is not alone. There’s an industry with armies of agents of propaganda. They have no other reason to be in existence. This is the only thing they know how to do.
No, point taken. You are absolutely right! It is a free world as you say.
Everybody has a right to pee or shit too. But there is a time and place and manner and form to pee and shit as well. If you shit all over the place willy nilly you might inevitable end up giving your country a bad name.
If I were to speak up and defend my country and I pee and shit all over the place you might start thinking that we Chinese are uneducated and cannot speak or write English. And my Government might put me in jail!
Luckily we are not asking you to reply to us in Chinese.
Is it fair that we have to learn Mandarin, English as well as a 3rd language like a local dialect or two?
Perhaps you are right, our Government is too demanding! It is all study, study, study when young and after that work, work, work!
Listen mate! How do one get to migrate to the U.S. or get a green card! I heard there is some sort of a lottery.
Here whatever we do, from very young, we have to explain ourselves! I wish I had your freedom to answer as I want, just piss and shit wherever and whenever I please.
Seems like all commentors are pro-communist. Sad.
Not much worse than a group of moralizing Asians with their pathetic hurt egos and their feigned indignance towards the United States of America.
Ken Kwan – China doesn’t need nuclear parity with the US. Nor does Russia. Khrushchev reportedly put this well when Kennedy told him, "We can destroy you many times over." Krushchev replied, "We can only destroy you once."
Vince Cheok – Vince I think you can see that this fellow is just an emotional anti-Asian racist (see what he called the leader "north of the 38th parallel.") You don’t need to entertain him further unless you enjoy his pointless abuse.
The US stands with the democracies of Japan, South Korea, Australia and India. China stands for repression and one-party rule. Simple.
NO, we have defense agreements with Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Phillipinnes. I wish we did not. But we do, and as such we must prepare to honor those agreements. No one wants an alliance with China, except North Korea – which speaks volumnes about China.
Maybe China should spend more time crushing students to death, as they did in Tiannamen. THAT’S the Chinese way. We stand for openess, democracy, and free exchange of ideas. China stands for rolling tanks over civilians.
Ever since I left China, I have not heard so many communists shouting and screaming.
Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah! Unless we shut down all adversarial Russian talk we become the victims of Sodom. Very powerful Sodom.
And its happening. Oh yes. Its the gays who are the hidden hand in the Russian controversy. Ever since the Russians voted in no gay propaganda the gays have waged war.
Think about it. What has Russia done? They are being charged every day in our press as the clamor rises. And what face do we show the Russians?
A General is in charge of Trump’s team. Not good for the Russians who are being reviled every day, right?
The Pentegon has countermanded Trump’s no transgender order. So who is in charge of our armed forces? The gays. The Russians see this gay power play.
We recently provoked by killing over 100 Russians and we have shot down their planes.
When Greece fell Sodom was there.
this is a low life war mongering article…stop all talk of nuclear war! shut those writers down! now!
How friggin dare this writer do this!
Vince Cheok I don’t know anyone here, but I have enjoyed reading your comments. I am an American patriot and like many Americans, I enjoy multiple ethnic and racial friendships and have liberal and conservative friends. There are Americans of every stripe but we are not defined by any individual. That’s what makes living here so exciting and stimulating. The only problems with reading the comments on Asia Unhedged are the American hating writers trying to cast Americans in such a light as it justifies their mind numbing hate. But you are different and so fun to read.
Ken Kwan False
A complete falsehood.
An utter falsehood.
False China has no such policy.
Wrong China and Russia will be anhilated.
The United States recognizes that there is ‘one China’ and we have our embassy in Beijing not Taipei. The idea that we would go into a nuclear war over a breakaway province of China is ridiculous. If California secedes from the union do you think China would back California’s breakaway with nuclear weapons?
America, with its privileged and psychopathic ruling class, will never stop its Logic of War to continue to reign and suck dry the blood of its own people. Good luck, Americans and mankind…
Tony Dean China don’t require agreements with any country. Only warmongering MF US SWINE’s intention to surround China and Russia coz not like Japan,South Korea and many stupid countries kow tow and willing to lick the MF US shithole. It is the cause of all the Muslim Refugees that flooded Europe. Have America taken any refugees? Evil warmongering MF. Used weapons of mass destruction Agent Orange in Vietnam, carpet bombing of civilian population. N. Korea and China fought the UN Armies only with man power and small arms, now it will be different, China has all kinds of sophiscated weaponry to fight U Swines. If war breaks out millions will parish too. Can the US accept the loss. It may be total destruction of the world and human kind.
Complete CCP drivel! What a ludicrous rant!
Why doesn’t the U.S. just attack now? A littel preemptive attack on chinese satelites and electrical systems would do wonders.
If it could, it would. So there are things you are not told by the mainstream media. Can you see that now?
B.c. Quah your level of crude insults is not only shocking, it is very telling. The problem is we HAVE read history. We have read about a dominant country who demanded tribute from her neighbors. But that was a long time ago. We can only hope that isn’t the plan again using the “One belt, one road” strategy to do so. We see a nation that flatters out of one side of your mouth and curses out of the other. In the end, this world only continues if we learn to live in peace with one another. It might surprise you that most Americans admire the Chinese, rather than despise China. We have marveled at your nation’s singularity of purpose and the ability to advance beyond the agrarian society that you were not 40 years ago. You have come a long way. There is no need to clinch your fists. NO country is perfect or makes the right decisions all the time. We made a mistake in Iraq, but at least we didn’t leave them high and dry. We attempted to rebuild their country better than it was before. Spending trillions of dollars to do so. China has her own list of “sins” and will make mistakes in the future as a world power. But if we can’t find a way to all live together on this vast, resource rich planet we have, we will simply destroy ourselves and be the fossils that are dug up by the next species to inhabit earth millions of years from now. NOBODY wants war with China in the US. We can only hope the same can be said in China. Your threats and anger only tell us about how B.c. Quad feels towards the US. Hopefully China has cooler heads than you do. The inability to sit and talk together as civilized peoples will be our downfall as a species. You have the choice to be part of the problem or part of the solution. I hope for your sake and your children’s sake you choose the latter.
-an average American
Francis, I agree with you 100%. Please stop all the warmongering talk and the threats of annihilation, which curiously seems to be coming for one camp. There seems to be a lot of anger towards the US in China. Why? I am not sure. From what I read, there are a bunch of misperceptions out there on both sides. So why would any intelligent person add to that? We only get one shot at this world. Let our existences be peaceful in our own nations and our neighboring nations. Most Americans harbor no ill will towards the Chinese. I am afraid it doesn’t seem to be the other way around. We peacemakers have a lot of work to do.
You either work for the communist Chinese or you are just another useful idiot which is it?
You maybe the 98% and said what you said. But don’t you know what you want does not matter at all? Only the 2% decide. They decide you pay 50% of your income in federal tax, state tax, property tax, everything tax and health insurance, car insurance, everything insurance without you getting anything back but some faked news that you are under threat so that you are happy that those taxes that you paid go to the arm industry pockets.
Chinese are not against you. The whole World is on the same boat against these warmongers who rule the US
Brian Banos. To answer your question I do not work for the Communist Chinese as I am a free market Chinese capitalist and I think as far as I can tell I am not an idiot either – having 3 University degrees and having a knack for academia and business like a lot of my brethren Chinese capitalists many of whom are making equally tons of money in your country.
But from your verbal diatribe I am inexplicably somewhat leaning to the observation that you might be an irrational and illogical person and that you may not have the decision and analytical skills to have good judgment necessary to succeed in life.
Otherwise, as an astute erudite scholar you would have phrased your proposition along the premise that – I am either a Communist or an idiot or both a Communist and an idiot or neither a Communist nor an idiot?
Let me try this hypothesis on you. Do you hate or love the Chinese or both hate and love the Chinese or neither love nor hate the Chinese? Obviously you do not love the Chinese. Possibly you both hate and love the Chinese in which case you would be quite normal for even St Paul inferred our fickle mindedness as humans when he said one can be a different man to different people at different times or you neither love nor hate the Chinese which would mean you would be indifferent in which case you would not have blogged or you must hate the Chinese which makes you a sinophobe!
I remember at University during a lecture on bullying and as to whether the superiority or supremacist complex of a bully might actually hide an inferiority complex. The lecturer hypothesised that the oppression of the Blacks by the Europeans could in fact possibly be based on the fact or belief that the Blacks have longer and bigger ‘manhood’ than them.
Your sinophobia cannot be based on our Chinese looks and features as many Whitemen have Bruce Lee as an icon and many in fact find petite Chinese women exotic and irresistably charming and alluring.
I tender the possibility that it somehow subconsciously gets to you that the Chinese are so successful in studies and business and are so assiduous like worker ants and that most of all the inscrutable Chinese could not care a flutter about Western principles, standards and values, preferring rather to be insular and parochial in their chopsticks, chop suey, kungfu, taichi, qigong and other antiquated Chinese cultural traditions and customs – like worshipping ancestral spirits instead of a Christian God.
But to each his own eh! I am equanimous and impartial as to who and what you, for there are good and bad people in every race and nation, are even though I do not want to be a replicate of you.
Put it this way – if I were to be subservient to you, see you as superior to me, instead of simply accepting you as you are but nonetheless my equal and fellow human being but a different species of humankind – how can I claim to have self-esteem and self-dignity eh? That in my Chinese culture would bring shame and dishonour to my parents and my ancestors!
You must have been born lately. These facts have been reported in western media for over two decades now. Are you still in primary school?
I wonder what the author want to express, first he talk ‘US knows China highprofile shelters and have US have high precision bunker penetrable missile and Second, China maintain secret and this might lead to war’.
Which one the author tries to mean?
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