The Pentagon believes the Chinese military’s nuclear arsenal can more than triple by 2035.
The Defense Department under President Joe Biden has described China as its “pacing challenge” and labeled it as the only country with both the intent and the capability to reshape the international order in its favor. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has launched a complex series of domestic, foreign, and defense policies — all designed to meet the Communist Party’s long-term ambitions.
“The Department of Defense estimates that (China’s) operational nuclear warheads stockpile has surpassed 400,” the report read. “If China continues the pace of its nuclear expansion, it will likely field a stockpile of about 1,500 warheads” by 2035, which is the same time the country’s military anticipates completing its modernization.
China is also increasing the number of land, sea, and air-based nuclear delivery platforms and is attempting to build out that infrastructure. The country’s efforts toward nuclear modernization “exceed previous modernization attempts in both scale and complexity,” the report continued.
“They’re developing more advanced nuclear delivery systems. So, it’s not just a question of expanding the size of the force, but they’re also really modernizing it qualitatively,” a senior U.S. defense official told reporters.
While the People’s Liberation Army works to accomplish those long-term goals, it has also increased its aggression within the region.
“Second, over the course of 2021, and evident in 2022, we have seen a trend of increasing PRC military coercion. The CMPR highlights that the PLA has adopted more dangerous, coercive, and aggressive actions in the Indo-Pacific region. PLA naval vessels and aircraft have exhibited a sharper increase in unsafe and unprofessional behavior in the Indo-Pacific region, including lasing, aerobatics, discharging objects, and activity that impinge upon the ability of nearby aircraft to maneuver safely,” the senior official said.