Officially, Beijing’s position on nuclear weapons is one of complete and thorough disarmament globally. This view was reaffirmed by Wang Qun (王群), China’s disarmament ambassador to the UN at the UN General Assembly on Friday.
Wang said nuclear disarmament should be based on the principle of global strategic stability and involve a “viable long-term plan” composed of “phased actions.” Meanwhile, Beijing has voiced support for efforts by Washington and Moscow to reduce their nuclear stockpiles to between 1,500 and 1,675 warheads each as part of a successor to the START treaty.
While it is difficult to disagree with calls for nuclear abolition along a moral line — current stockpiles, albeit reduced, are still enough to blow us out of existence many times over — Beijing’s enthusiasm on the matter is far less humanistic than it would like us to believe.
Key for China, as stated by Wang, is strategic stability, which at present it does not enjoy. Despite the impressive modernization of its military, China’s estimated 200 nuclear warheads are insufficient to deter rivals such as the US or Russia, whose arsenals remain in the thousands. Beijing is aware that a country that seeks to become the dominant power regionally, if not globally, cannot hope to freely flex its muscles with a nuclear component about the size of the UK’s.
This explains why China has been supportive of negotiations on nuclear arms reduction between the US and Russia and it accounts for Beijing’s rhetoric on universal abolition. Beijing stands to benefit tremendously from reduced nuclear arsenals among the nuclear club, as any reduction brings it closer to nuclear parity and therefore reinforces its own nuclear deterrent. A true test of China’s commitment to denuclearization would be for it to embark on cutbacks of its own, perhaps in proportion to those that are being implemented by Washington and Moscow.
That, however, is unlikely to happen, as Beijing will argue that it already faces a tremendous handicap vis-a-vis the US, not to mention that it inhabits a “dangerous” — and nuclear — neighborhood.
Rather than move toward abolition, China in recent years has instead embarked on a program to expand its nuclear deterrent, modernizing its mostly ground-based launchers, developing submarines to launch its JL-2 SLBMs, working on multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles for its intercontinental ballistic missiles and building a 5,000km tunnel in Hebei Province, presumably to store and ensure the survival of its nuclear arsenal from a first strike.
China’s role as a proliferator of nuclear and missile technology with clients such as Iran, Pakistan and North Korea also raises questions as to its commitment to a nuclear-free world, something that some think tanks that have accused the defense establishment of overstating the Chinese nuclear threat should keep in mind.
The development of China’s nuclear deterrent is in line with its “rise” as an international power and in that regard it cannot be blamed for seeking to rectify an imbalance it perceives as imposing insurmountable constraints on its ambitions. With this in mind, negotiators in Washington, Moscow, at the UN and elsewhere should be aware that once parity approaches, Beijing could prove much less willing to abandon its own nuclear ambitions. The lack of transparency regarding all things military in China also means that current estimates of its nuclear capabilities may be too conservative and that the actual number could be higher. If that is the case, China could achieve parity much sooner than expected.
As other countries disarm, China could become more confident that its limited, though comparatively more muscular, nuclear arsenal is now sufficient to deter its adversaries, thus freeing it to make use of its growing conventional might to subdue its opponents, which would have direct ramifications for Taiwan.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday last week, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯) wrote: “The KMT must fall for Taiwan to improve.’ Allow me to ask the question again: Is this really true?” It matters not how many times Hsu asks the question, my answer will always be the same: “Yes, the KMT must be toppled for Taiwan to improve.” In the lengthy Facebook post, titled “What were those born in the 1980s guilty of?” Hsu harked back to the idealistic aspirations of the 2014 Sunflower movement before heaping opprobrium on the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP)
Some people are saying the weather has been wonderful this year. That depends on how one defines wonderful weather. The Ministry of Economic Affairs last week announced that the alert level for Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli and Taichung areas are to be raised from green to yellow, and that water pressure is to be reduced at night. Few households with water tower storage facilities would have noticed any restrictions on their supply, but people concerned with the water situation have been aware for some time that the lack of typhoons this year, coupled with low rainfall, has meant that in the
Although China’s “reform and opening up” has become an empty slogan, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) still put on a show by touring southern China to mark the 40th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone’s establishment. His motive was not to regain the international community’s trust, but to shore up his power in China. Externally, it was a response to diplomatic setbacks, and it even revealed his adventurist attitude of not being afraid to go to war. When former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) in 1992 conducted similar inspections, it was to suppress the “leftist wind” that was interfering with his
An increasing number of cafes and other businesses in Taiwan are keeping animals, which draw in people who are seeking the next perfect shot for their Instagram accounts. In the past these were mostly standard house pets, such as cats and dogs, which are accustomed to living indoors and being around people. However, raccoons have become popular, as well as alpacas and other “unusual” animals that require specialty care and specific environments to thrive. In late June, a customer recorded a video of the owner of a coffee shop in Taipei apparently unleashing a border collie on a raccoon, who was the star