China, Nuclear weapons

Past Virtual Event: Raising the minimum: Explaining China’s nuclear buildup

The Department of Defense now estimates that China will have 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030–meaning this decade will see a massive buildup from today’s 350. This has led some analysts to alarming conclusions, like China is trying to outgun the United States or use its arsenal to bid for hegemony in Asia. But Lyle Goldstein, in a new paper for Defense Priorities, argues it isn’t so, that China–at least partially in response to U.S. nuclear doctrine, U.S. initiatives to develop ballistic missile defense, and a decline U.S.-China relations–has merely upped its estimate of what it takes to deter the United States. It has adjusted, not abandoned, its traditional “minimum deterrence” strategy.

What do China’s new ICBMs, submarine-launched weapons, a new generation of strategic bombers, and advances in hypersonic weapons mean for stability in Asia and U.S. deterrence? Is arms control futile? Is China repeating U.S. Cold War mistakes?