US President-elect Donald Trump
tweeted on Thursday that "the US must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability," hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to strengthen Russia's nuclear power.
According to statistics, the US has 7,100 nuclear warheads and Russia has 7,300. Although Russia's conventional military capabilities have fallen behind that of NATO, its nuclear arsenal has ensured its military superpower status and enabled Moscow to confront Washington in Ukraine and Syria.
Putin said Russia needs to bolster nuclear forces that could "reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense system." The US is unlikely to ignore this message.
Some Chinese feel that China should not be part of the "nuclear arms race" between the US and Russia. However, as the focus of the global strategic competition gradually shifts toward the US and China, it would be difficult for Beijing to stay away.
A common misinterpretation is that nuclear weapons will not be used and therefore are a waste of resources. Yet, we believe that Russia is using its nuclear weapons everyday as a strategic deterrence to the US.
China doesn't have to join in the "nuclear arms race" but we do need to redefine our nuclear arsenal "sufficiency." The US already views China as its top competitor and it would be na?ve to believe it could survive in the intermediate zone of global power competition.
China's nuclear weapons must be "sufficient" to deter the US when it flexes its military muscle, as well as to convince the US that the PLA will strike back without hesitation in face of military provocation. The US and its allies need to believe that whichever of their Asian-Pacific military bases are used for launching attacks on China, it will meet destructive retaliation.
For Chinese, the biggest US threat comes from its military. Such a threat can gradually corrode China's social confidence.
We hope for a sound development of future Sino-US relations, and that both countries can resolve their disputes with a cooperative attitude. However, some signals coming from the Trump team have warned us that the possibility of a crisis cannot be ruled out. The better we prepare for that day, the more likely it is for us to avoid such a confrontation.
With both the US and Russia believing that their nuclear arsenals are "not enough," it's imperative for China to speed up the development of its nuclear weapons including Dongfeng-41 missiles. We must not hesitate or be concerned about the reactions from the West. China is at the center of global geopolitics, and there is no room for hesitation on nuclear deterrence.