Despite the lesson of the Cuban missile crisis 60 years ago, China has shown no interest in discussing steps to reduce the risk posed by nuclear weapons, senior US officials said on Tuesday, after Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) last month signaled that Beijing would strengthen its strategic deterrent.
The Pentagon has said China is undergoing a major expansion of its nuclear forces and is moving toward having 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030.
However, Beijing has long resisted arms control talks with Washington, arguing that the US already has a much larger arsenal.
Alexandra Bell, deputy assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, told an Atlantic Council forum that despite US efforts, Washington and Beijing still had not begun engagement on the issue.
“As a first step, we’d really like to have a conversation with them about each other’s doctrines, about crisis communication, crisis management,” Bell said, adding that Washington has had such talks with Russia for decades.
“We’re not in that space with Beijing yet. So, there’s work to be done to begin the conversation, we think bilaterally,” Bell said.
“We’re now at the 60th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis. We don’t need to repeat that to know that we need to be at the table having conversations with each other,” Bell said, referring to events in 1962 when the US and the Soviet Union came close to nuclear war over the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said last year after a call between Xi and President Joe Biden that the two had agreed to “look to begin to carry-forward discussion on strategic stability.”
However, Xi signaled during the Chinese Communist Party National Congress last month that China would strengthen its strategic deterrent, a term often used to describe nuclear weapons.
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