China has expressed firm opposition to a recent US government report describing Beijing as a potential nuclear rival, also calling on Washington to reduce its much larger nuclear arsenal and join in efforts to promote regional stability.
Casting China as “a major challenge to US interests in Asia,” the 74-page US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) report said the US strategy for China was designed to prevent Beijing from mistakenly concluding that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, was acceptable.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang condemned the US report on Sunday and said his country exercised utmost restraint in developing nuclear capabilities and kept its nuclear arsenal at the “minimum level” required for national security.
The official Xinhua news agency cited Ren as saying that Beijing would resolutely stick to the peaceful development of nuclear weapons and pursue a national defense policy that was defensive in nature. It also added that under no circumstances would China use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones.
The Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman called on the US — which possesses the world’s largest nuclear weapons arsenal — to conform to the irreversible world trend of peace and development rather than run in the opposite direction.
“We hope the US will abandon a Cold War mentality and earnestly shoulder its special and primary responsibility for its own nuclear disarmament, understand correctly China’s strategic intentions, and take a fair view on China’s national defense and military development,” Ren added.
China has the world’s fifth-largest nuclear arsenal, with 300 warheads, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The US and Russia each possess about 7,000 warheads, or about 20 times as many as Beijing.
Before he became US president, Donald Trump did a lot of China-bashing particularly in matters of trade; but since assuming office, Trump has taken a softer line on China and tried to cultivate a relationship with the Chinese leadership.