Zhoubo：It’s Absurd To Ask China To Disarm
The Chinese government sent Vice Premier Liu He to the U.S. in April with a brief to settle the tariff war between Beijing and Washington. But during an Oval Office news conference to address the progress of trade negotiations, President Trump abruptly changed the subject: “Between Russia and China and us, we’re all making hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons, including nuclear, which is ridiculous.” Mr. Trump has since ordered his administration to prepare a push for new arms-control agreements with Russia and China.
If Mr. Liu was surprised by the pivot from trade to arms control, he wasn’t alone. To Chinese ears, Mr. Trump’s claims make no sense. Between them, the U.S. and Russia possess 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. China has fewer nuclear warheads (290) than France (300), according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
No wonder China’s Ministry of National Defense essentially laughed at the idea of a three-way deal on arms control involving the U.S. and Russia. For such an agreement to work, either the U.S. and Russia would need to bring their nuclear arsenals down to China’s level, or China would need to increase the size of its arsenal drastically. Neither scenario is realistic.
At the moment, the Trump administration is building up U.S. nuclear capability, developing low-yield warheads for submarine-launched ballistic missiles and tactical nukes for use in battlefield situations. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in March 2018 that Moscow is developing a nuclear-powered cruise missile with “unlimited range and unlimited ability to maneuver.”