China has said that any attempts at “nuclear blackmail” by the United States will fail, accusing Washington of encouraging confrontation after it issued its latest Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).
Asked about the recently published document, which lays out US nuclear weapons policies, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the NPR “smacks heavily of Cold War and zero-sum mentality” and “uses nuclear weapons as tools to advance [the US] geopolitical agenda.”
“I need to stress that in this latest NPR, the US has made irresponsible remarks and accusations as well as groundless speculations on China’s normal modernization of its nuclear forces,” Wang told reporters on Friday, adding that the United States has specifically “tailored” a “nuclear deterrence strategy” against Beijing.
China is seriously concerned about and firmly opposed to such a move. Let me make it clear that we have the capability and confidence to safeguard our national security interests. The US’s nuclear blackmail will not work on China.
The new US strategy, a declassified version of which was published on Thursday, breaks with campaign promises made by President Joe Biden, leaving the door open for a nuclear response to a non-nuclear attack. While Biden has insisted the “sole purpose” of America’s nuclear arsenal is to deter or retaliate against the first-use of the bomb, the White House-approved NPR concluded that such an approach “would result in an unacceptable level of risk, in light of the range of non-nuclear capabilities being developed and fielded by competitors.”
Wang went on to say that the updated American policy “lower[s] the threshold for using nuclear weapons” while at the same time “hyping up the so-called nuclear threat from certain countries.”
“The US has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, and continues to upgrade its ‘nuclear triad’ and selectively advances the international nuclear arms control process only when doing so serves to suppress the countries it sees as rivals,” he continued. “What’s behind the US policy is its hegemonic logic of seeking absolute military superiority, which could stoke a nuclear arms race.”
The Biden administration has repeatedly declared China to be Washington’s top competitor and foremost concern, with the Pentagon saying Beijing poses “the most comprehensive and serious challenge to US national security” in its new National Defense Strategy, also published Thursday alongside the new NPR and a Missile Defense Review.
Tensions have spiked between the two powers since August, when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan despite loud objections from Beijing, which sees the island as part of its own territory. Though the trip prompted an unprecedented round of Chinese military drills in the air and waters surrounding Taiwan, Western delegations have nonetheless continued to visit Taipei in the months since, with Germany sending lawmakers on a junket there earlier this week.