Senior Fellow John Isaacs wrote an op-ed in the National Interest arguing that an effective policy response to China’s military buildup should consider all aspects of the situation, not just the potential numbers of nuclear weapons or ships, and employ all instruments of policy, not just the military.
“In early November, the Defense Department released its long-awaited report on ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.’ With its lengthy list of Chinese military and security advances in recent years, the report, mandated by Congress, could be read as presaging the emergence of a dangerous military competition that could threaten catastrophic war, but history tells us that’s not how this report should be read.
While it is correct that China’s efforts to increase its military strength pose significant challenges, reading them only in terms of a Cold War-like confrontation ignores important aspects of the issue and could inadvertently increase the danger. A look at some top headlines reveals a problem: The New York Times publicized, ‘China Could Have 1,000 Nuclear Warheads by 2030, Pentagon Says.’ The Washington Post featured, ‘China accelerates nuclear weapons expansion, seeks 1,000 warheads or more, Pentagon says.’ Fox News added, ‘China’s nuclear stockpile growing at ‘accelerating pace,’ will have 1,000 warheads by 2030: Pentagon.’
However, the Pentagon’s new 173-page report obscured important elements of the picture behind the headlines. For example, most of the media analyses of the report focused on the prediction that China could have as many as 1,000 nuclear warheads by the end of the decade, compared to the number of warheads, estimated between 200 and 350, that they have right now.” Read more