China is mulling tripling its stockpile of nuclear warheads to 900 by 2035, as tensions with the United States are expected to increase further over Taiwan, Kyodo News reported citing a source close to the matter on Saturday.
The blueprint, prepared by the People’s Liberation Army, has been approved by Chinese President Xi Jinping, head of the military, who has been eager to strengthen Beijing’s deterrence against Washington, the report said citing Chinese sources.
As the Chinese Communist Party has been strengthening the country’s military capabilities, the United States in 2022 said that Beijing is on its way to increasing its stockpile of nuclear warheads to 1,500 by 2035 when it aims to complete the modernization of its military.
Some foreign affairs experts have claimed that China could abandon its “no first use” if it achieves the goal of modernizing its military, as per the Kyodo News report.
In November, the Chinese military’s top body spoke about the importance of lethal capabilities, analyzing that Russia’s strong nuclear deterrence has stopped a head-on contest between North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Moscow despite its offensive against Ukraine, Kyodo News reported citing sources.
The nuclear warheads held by China is likely to increase to 550 in 2027, which is the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the country’s armed forces and to 900 in 2035, the sources said as per the news report.
Russia possesses 5,977 nuclear warheads, while the United States has 5,428 nuclear warheads, Kyodo News report citing figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, as per the news report.
The ties between China and US have been strained, especially after former US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August, as per the Kyodo News report.
There have been growing fears that Taiwan might become a military flash point in the Asia Pacific region in the near future as China considers the island as part of its territory. China and Taiwan have been governed separately since they split in 1949 due to civil war.
On February 4, US President Joe Biden said that a Chinese balloon has been shot down successfully. Speaking to reporters in Maryland, he said that the ordered the Pentagon to shoot the balloon “as soon as possible.”
“On Wednesday, when I was briefed on the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down, on Wednesday, as soon as possible. They decided without doing damage to anyone on the ground. They decided that the best time to do that was as it got over water, outside and within the 12-mile limit.”
“They successfully took it down. And I want to compliment our aviators who did it. And we’ll have more to report on this a little later,” he further added.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin in a statement on Saturday (local time) said that US fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command successfully shot down the high-altitude surveillance balloon belonging to China over the water off the coast of South Carolina in US airspace.
Lloyd Austin said that the balloon which was used by China in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental US was shot down above US territorial waters. A US Air Force fighter safely shot down a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon, the US Defence Department said in a statement.