China’s growing nuclear arsenal is a threat to global stability, G7 leaders warn
China’s rapidly growing nuclear arsenal is a threat to global stability, Group of Seven leaders warned on Friday.
The SIPRI think tank estimates that China has a stockpile of around 350 nuclear warheads – a small sum when compared with the United States and Russia.
But it is growing fast, and the country could have 1,500 warheads by 2035, according to a Pentagon estimate published in November.
Concerns about the build-up have been growing in the West, and the G7 leaders warned the expansion ‘without transparency nor meaningful dialogue poses a concern to global and regional stability’.
Since its first nuclear test in 1964, China has been content to maintain a comparatively modest arsenal and has maintained that it will never be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict.
China’s rapidly growing nuclear arsenal is a ‘concern to global and regional stability’, Group of Seven leaders said Friday. Pictured: China’s DF-41 nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing (file photo, 2019)
Estimates suggest China could have a stockpile of up to 350 nuclear weapons (others suggest 320) – much lower than the arsenals of Russia and the US, with have a combined total of more than 8,200. But the Pentagon estimates China could have more than 1,500 by 2035
But in recent years, under President Xi Jinping, it has begun a massive military modernisation drive that includes upgrading its nuclear weapons to not only deter foes but also be able to counter-attack if deterrence fails.
In April, foreign ministers from G7 wealthy democracies also warned over the expansion of China’s nuclear capacity, urging ‘strategic risk reduction discussions’ with Washington and greater transparency from Beijing.
The warning from the leaders came after talks on nuclear disarmament in the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
G7 leaders, who earlier Friday laid wreaths at a memorial to the estimated 140,000 people killed in the 1945 nuclear bombing of the city, also took aim at Russia.
They condemned its ‘irresponsible nuclear rhetoric’ and called a plan to station nuclear weapons in Belarus ‘dangerous and unacceptable’.
They also slammed proliferation, warning North Korea against ‘provocative actions’ and urging Iran to ‘cease nuclear escalations’.
The document is the first time a G7 summit has produced a leaders’ statement focused on nuclear disarmament, a reflection of efforts by Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is from Hiroshima.
He has sought to push the issue up the agenda at the three-day talks, and earlier led the leaders around the Hiroshima peace museum, where they confronted evidence of the suffering inflicted by the August 6, 1945 US nuclear attack.
The leaders reiterated their commitment to achieving a world without nuclear weapons ‘with undiminished security for all’, a caveat that nods to the difficulty of achieving nuclear disarmament progress in the current global security climate.
‘Achieving the world we hope to see requires a global effort to take us from the harsh reality to the ideal, no matter how narrow the path may be,’ the leaders said, without offering concrete commitments of their own.
Three G7 members – the United States, Britain and France – have nuclear weapons, and the rest are protected by the US ‘nuclear umbrella’.
G7 leaders and invited guests from several other counties on Saturday are scheduled to discuss how to deal with China’s growing assertiveness and military buildup as concerns rise that it could could try to seize Taiwan by force.
This, many fear, could spark a wider conflict.
G7 leaders, who earlier Friday laid wreaths at a memorial to the estimated 140,000 people killed in the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, warned over China’s nuclear arms expansion
In a bit of duelling diplomacy, Chinese President Xi Jinping (pictured May 19) is hosting the leaders of the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for a two-day summit in the Chinese city of Xi’a
China claims the self-governing island as its own and its ships and warplanes regularly patrol near it.
In a bit of duelling diplomacy, Chinese President Xi Jinping is hosting the leaders of the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for a two-day summit in the Chinese city of Xi’an.
The leaders are due to discuss efforts to strengthen the global economy and address rising prices that are squeezing families and government budgets around the world, particularly in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
A U.S. official said the leaders on Saturday would issue a joint communique highlighting a common approach toward dealing with China, as well as outline new projects in the G7’s global infrastructure development initiative, which is meant to offer countries an alternative to China’s investment dollars.