The Pentagon and Republican congressmen expressed fresh concerns about China’s nuclear build-up after a new report said Beijing was building 110 more missile silos. Satellite images showed China was building a new field of silos near Hami in the eastern part of its Xinjiang region, according to a report from the American Federation of Scientists (AFS). Reports of the construction of about 120 missile silos in Yumen, a desert area about 240 miles (380 km) to the southeast, followed one another.
US Strategic Command tweeted a link to an article on the AFS report, noting that the public is discovering what they have been saying all along about the threat the world faces and the veil of secrecy that surrounds it for the second time in two months. Earlier this month, the State Department said China’s nuclear buildup was concerning, saying it deviated from decades of nuclear strategy based on minimal deterrence. There was a request to work with China on practical measures to reduce destabilizing arms races.
Congressman Mike Turner, ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, said China’s nuclear buildup is ‘unprecedented’ and that it is ‘deploying nuclear weapons to threaten the United States and our allies’. Another Republican, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, Mike Rogers, said, ‘All responsible nations should voice their displeasure at China’s refusal to negotiate arms control’.
According to a Pentagon report from 2020, China’s nuclear warhead stockpile is estimated to be in the “low 200s” and expected to double in size as Beijing expands and modernizes its forces. As of March 1, 1,357 of the United States’ 3,800 warheads were deployed, according to a State Department factsheet. China has repeatedly been urged by Washington to join it and Russia in a new arms control treaty. In addition to the report on the new silos, Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is due to hold arms control talks with Russia in Geneva on Wednesday.
Sherman was in China earlier this week for talks at which Beijing accused Washington of creating an ‘imaginary enemy’ to divert attention from domestic problems and suppress the Chinese. Beijing believes its arsenal is dwarfed by those of the United States and Russia and it is prepared to engage in bilateral dialogues on strategic security ‘based on equality and mutual respect’.