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Rally cry for more Chinese nuclear warheads


China should more than triple its nuclear warhead stockpile, according to the editor of a leading newspapers, a rally cry that has put Beijing’s opaque nuclear arsenal into an unusual spotlight.

Hu Xijin, editor of the nationalist Global Times tabloid, sister publication of the leading Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, openly called on China’s military to more than triple its nuclear bomb and warhead stockpile to 1,000 in Weibo social media posts that went viral over the weekend.

Hu opined China should quickly boost its nuclear deterrence, including through a stockpile of about 100 nuclear-capable Dongfeng 41 strategic intercontinental ballistic missiles. The missiles have a hit range of up to 15,000 kilometers and can reach the United States.

The Dongfeng 41 made its public debut during the chest-thumping military parade staged for the Communist Party’s 70th anniversary last October. Hu said the warheads and missiles could guarantee China’s peace of mind and counter an increasingly antagonistic US.

“Before long we may need more stamina to face up to the challenges, and that stamina is buttressed by the Dongfeng and Julang missiles,” wrote Hu. The Julang is a family of powerful intercontinental-range submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Hu also suggested that the size of China’s nuclear arsenal may determine how US political elites view and approach China. He wrote that peace between the two superpowers is never an act of largesse but is underlined by “strategic tools.”

Global Times chief editor Hu Xijin said on his Weibo account that China would need 1,000 nuclear warheads including at least 100 Dongfeng 41 missiles for better deterrence against the US.
Hu Xijin is one of the most influential opinion leaders in China. Photo: People’s Daily

In China, where nationalist sentiments have been whipped up by the Covid-19 contagion and associated rising tensions with the US, those in favor of non-proliferation are now being drowned out by netizens howling for a robust military build-up.

Most of the 25,000-plus replies beneath Hu’s post were supportive of China spearheading a new arms race, with some even calling for Beijing to scrap its “no-first-use” pledge.


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