China reiterates ‘no first use’ policy in wake of US report
China’s defense ministry reiterated its commitment to a “no first use” nuclear weapons policy on Tuesday, after a Pentagon report last week suggested that Beijing is on pace to nearly quadruple its nuclear arsenal in just over a decade.
“It should be emphasized that China firmly pursues a nuclear strategy of self-defense, adheres to the nuclear policy of no first use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and keeps the nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for national security,” ministry spokesperson Tan Kefei said in a statement.
Kefei accused the Pentagon report of “distorting China’s national defense policy and military strategy, groundlessly speculating about China’s military development, and grossly interfering in China’s internal affairs on the Taiwan question.”
The Pentagon sent the annual China security report to Congress last Tuesday, warning that the country plans to greatly expand its power and take a more aggressive stance toward the self-governing island of Taiwan.
In particular, the report found that China is on pace to grow its stockpile of nuclear warheads from 400 to 1,500 by 2035.
However, the Chinese defense ministry turned the accusations around on the U.S. in Tuesday’s statement, accusing America of lowering the nuclear threshold and sanctioning nuclear proliferation.
“It has fanned the flames everywhere for its own selfish interests and created division and confrontation in the world, bringing turmoil and disaster wherever it goes,” Kefei added in the statement.
U.S.-China relations have been tense in recent months, particularly on the issue of Taiwan. Following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) controversial visit to the island nation in August, China conducted large-scale military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.
President Biden has repeatedly vowed that the U.S. would defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion. However, the White House has emphasized that there has not been any change to the U.S.’s “One China” policy — which maintains an ambiguous stance on the issue of Taiwan.