China urged to increase sea-based nuclear deterrent amid US intensified strategic threat
Published: May 28, 2021 08:45 PM Updated: May 29, 2021 06:50 PM
DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missiles Photo: Fan Lingzhi/GT

DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missiles Photo: Fan Lingzhi/GT

Facing a serious strategic threat from the US, China was urged to increase the number of nuclear weapons, especially its sea-based nuclear deterrent of intercontinental submarine-launched ballistic missiles, to deter potential military action by US warmongers, Chinese military experts said on Friday, after reports that the US' new defense budget will modernize its nuclear arsenal to deter China. 

Having a nuclear arsenal appropriate to China's position will help safeguard national security, sovereignty and development interests and establish a more stable and peaceful world order, which will be beneficial for the world, they said.

The US defense budget, set to be sent to Congress on Friday, is expected to include investments in troop readiness, space, and the Pacific Deterrence Initiative aimed at countering China's military existence in the region, and nuclear weapons technology, Reuters reported on Thursday. 

However, Chinese military experts believe that US attempts of increasing military deployment in the Indo-Pacific region will not increase returns for the US as most countries in the region will not allow the flames of war initiated by the US to burn themselves. 

The US would buy ships and jets and develop and test hypersonic weapons and other "next-generation" weapons systems to build capabilities to counter Russia and China. The total national security budget will be $753 billion, a 1.7 percent increase over the 2021 figure, Reuters said. 

China has kept its defense spending at around 1.3 percent of GDP in recent years, which is far below the average global level of 2.6 percent, data shows. The US, by far the world's top military spender, has spent about four times that of China in recent years.

Chinese analysts said China has never taken aim at US military spending, nor does China want to engage in any form of arms race with the US. 

But the US has applied greater military pressure on China, sending warships and warplanes at an increasing frequency to the South China Sea and Taiwan Straits.

The US is also preparing what US media called its "biggest navy exercise in a generation with 25,000 personnel across 17 time zones," as it's preparing for a "possible conflict" with China and Russia. 

The US attempted to deepen the militarization of space with its new budget plan, including its investment on future weapons. Considering that the US deems China its top imaginary enemy, China needs to increase the quantity and quality of nuclear weapons, especially submarine-launched ballistic missiles, to effectively safeguard its national security, sovereignty and development interests, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Friday. 

Some military experts said China should increase the number of its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), the DF-41, which has the longest operational range among all Chinese ICBMs. 

Song said that strengthening sea-based strategic nuclear deterrence is also an important direction for China's future development, as these weapons are better at stealth and secondary nuclear strikes. 

China could use its most advanced submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) to effectively counter the US threat, Song said. 

China just commissioned three PLA Navy warships, namely the Changzheng 18, the Dalian and the Hainan, at a naval port in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province in April. Observers identified the Changzheng 18 as a likely Type 09IV nuclear-powered strategic ballistic missile submarine. 

Burning themselves

The US Pacific Deterrence Initiative, created to counter China, focuses on competition in the Indo-Pacific and aims to boost US preparedness in the region by funding radars, satellites and missile systems, according to Reuters. 

Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Friday that the initiative enables the US to use a variety of spy satellites to conduct reconnaissance and intelligence gathering to provide extensive and accurate intelligence support for US military operations, including joint military operations with its allies, and the US will also use allies, such as US overseas military bases, to deploy more radar systems to guide its weapons.

On the day its budget was sent to Congress, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was expected to meet with India's Minister of External Affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, as part of India's first cabinet-level visit to Washington, the Pentagon said. 

"The secretary's meeting with the external affairs minister will continue discussions that the two held in New Delhi in March and will continue the robust bilateral defense and security relationship between our two countries," the Pentagon said. 

Chinese military experts said it's likely that India would buy more American weapons, have more military drills with the US or deepen its cooperation with the US in military intelligence sharing, and the US will use these in exchange for India's cooperation for its Indo-Pacific strategy. 

But India will have second thoughts on US military deployment on its soil, Song said, noting that weapons and radar deployment involves a country's sovereignty, and India, which has been claiming to pursue an independent foreign policy, will unlikely give the US a satisfactory answer.

Even if India would like to deepen its military cooperation with the US, certain cooperation such as opening military bases to the US is not an option for India, Song said. 

India may not be a very ideal partner, and most of US allies in Asia, including Japan and South Korea, also fear that the flames of war would eventually burn themselves. 

In South Korea, protests against US military presence have become louder in the past years, and South Korea will not allow the US to turn Northeast Asia into a battlefield and drag itself into war, nor will it sacrifice its relations with China, observers said. 

Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times on Friday that Australia is likely to allow the US to deploy more military equipment on its soil, making it the only US friend on its Indo-Pacific strategy. 

By doing this, Australia will make itself a target for future military conflicts between the US and other countries, Zhang said, adding that a responsible government which really cares about the interests of its people would never allow it.