What is nuclear China up to?

Asia's Tech News Daily

What is nuclear China up to?
© Provided by Hindustan Times The possibility of a US-China conflict is much higher now, or at least the leadership in Beijing thinks so. If there is a conventional conflict between the US and China, over, say, Taiwan, it can escalate to nuclear levels (via REUTERS)

On October 17, Financial Times reported that China had conducted a test of a hypersonic glide vehicle that circled the earth in low-orbit space before cruising onto its target. Earlier in the summer, through multiple media reports, we learnt that China is constructing at least 250 long-range missile silos at three different locations. In addition, we know from the 2020 United States (US) department of defense report that China intends to move to a launch-on-warning posture for its missile forces. To this end, Beijing is reportedly working on a space-based early warning system. Moreover, experts such as Austin Long and officers such as US Navy Admiral Charles Richard have pointed towards potential shifts in Chinese no-first-use policy.

The big question that arises is: Why are we seeing such a flurry of activity in nuclear China? Of course, the most prominent reason is that the leadership in China is feeling the pressure of the overwhelming nuclear superiority of the US and is working to correct the balance. In addition to the number and quality of warheads, the US has an extraordinary suite of capabilities in precision-targeting, satellite imagery, and anti-submarine warfare that make it a threat for the second-strike forces of its rivals.

Using its satellites, the US can track the land-based nuclear arsenal of its adversaries, and then use its accurate missiles to eliminate them. It can also use its passive sonar systems, extraordinarily stealthy nuclear attack submarines, and proficient maritime patrol air assets to hunt hostile SSBNs. If the US is unable to clean up all the long-range nuclear weapons of its rival in a counterforce strike, it has a chance to intercept the remaining ones through its missile defence systems.

If China has to escape this counterforce noose of America, it has to ensure that a) it has enough long-range nuclear weapons left after a counterforce strike by the US, and b) those remaining weapons can penetrate American missile defences. Through hundreds of silos, China is hoping to build a sink for American missiles.

If Beijing gets its shell game (shuffling the missiles among silos randomly) right — America’s radar satellites make the job difficult — the US will have to expend a large number of its missiles to be certain that it has eliminated all of China’s long-range systems. The sheer scale of the task might deter the US from contemplating a counterforce strike.

In case the US is not deterred, Beijing’s newly tested weapon has two components — the hypersonic glider and the low-earth orbiting space system, also known as Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS), both independently designed to defeat American missile defence systems.

China’s need for silos, hypersonic glider, and FOBS is not entirely a surprise. However, what is puzzling is the acceleration on all these fronts around the same time. The US has been working on, and improving, its counterforce and missile defence capabilities for long. China is only responding now. One can understand that developing technology takes time, and hence China could not have tested hypersonic gliders decades ago. However, building missile fields was within China’s reach and yet we see them in such numbers only now.

The most likely explanation is that the possibility of a US-China conflict is much higher now, or at least the leadership in Beijing thinks so. If there is a conventional conflict between the US and China, over, let’s say, Taiwan, it can always escalate to nuclear levels. If the US believes that it possesses significant nuclear superiority, it might be tempted to undertake a massive counterforce strike. The latest Chinese investments are meant to deter such temptations.

However, why have the risks of a US-China conventional conflict grown? There are broadly two reasons.

The first has to do with structural factors and misperceptions leading to conflict. A rising power and a declining power, James Fearon argues, can go to war because they may not be able to settle over a bargained outcome. The rising State (China) will want a bargain based on its future power but the declining State (the US) will not agree to it because it stands to benefit from a bargain based on the current distribution of power. In such a scenario, a preventive war can be started by the declining power. The rising power, too, may start a war if it believes its power is peaking or if it is dissatisfied with its status. Similarly, both sides might slide into a war as a result of security dilemma. One side may take steps which are entirely defensive in nature, but the other may see them as offensive. In a resulting spiral, both may end up amassing offensive weapons and then either may start a war perceiving a window of opportunity or a first-mover advantage.

The second reason why China thinks a conventional conflict is likely is because it is going to start one. Here, structural factors such as power transition between rising and declining States or security dilemmas are not important. Instead, China’s “greed” — for example, to exercise complete sovereignty over Taiwan — is contributing to the risk of conflict. Rather than being worried about structural factors and misperceptions that can start a war, China might simply be preparing for a conflict it knows it will start. Therefore, even if China has non-aggressive motivations to invest in its nuclear forces, the timing of these developments suggest that Beijing’s aggressive intentions might still be a factor.

Kunal Singh is a PhD candidate in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The views expressed are personal

Sign on to read the HT ePaper epaper.hindustantimes.com

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


Doja Cat says she feels ‘pressured' in the music industry: ‘I'm doing all this s*** that I don't wanna do'

Doja Cat says she feels ‘pressured’ in the music industry: ‘I’m doing all this s*** that I don’t wanna do’ Singer Doja Cat has revealed that she is not happy ... Read more »

Single day rise of 8,318 Covid infections takes India's active cases to 1,07,019, lowest in 541 days

India reported 8,318 fresh COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, informed the Health Ministry. As many as 465 people succumbed to the COIVD-19 infection in the country in the ... Read more »

Delhi air in 'very poor' category, expected to improve from Nov 29; minimum temperature 10.2° C

The air quality index (AQI) in Delhi was recorded in the ‘very poor’ category on Saturday morning, according to data issued by the <a href="/tag/central-pollution-control-board”>Central Pollution Control Board. It is ... Read more »

Syarikat penerbangan diarah turun harga tiket domestik

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Malaysia Airlines berkata ia akan menambah penerbangan ke Sarawak bulan depan, sekali gus berupaya mengurangkan kadar tambang ke negeri itu. PETALING JAYA: Kementerian Pengangkuan ... Read more »

JP Nadda likely to attend Inter-Party Conference organised by Russia virtually ahead of Dec 6 summit

BJP President JP Nadda is likely to virtually attend an Inter-Party Conference being organised by the ruling United Russia Party to further boost strategic partnership ahead of the December 6 ... Read more »

‘Segelintir' pendukung MN dibuai kerusi empuk, rasa selesa berkuasa, Tok Mat jawab Hadi

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Wadah kerjasama Muafakat Nasional harus menjangkau politik, menjadi medan segala kepentingan Melayu-Islam dibincangkan, menurut Mohamad Hasan. PETALING JAYA: Segelintir pendukung dalam Muafakat Nasional (MN) ... Read more »

French trawler crews to block ports in row over post-Brexit fishing permits

French trawler crews are planning a series of port and cargo terminal blockades Friday in their push for a political decision over their right to take their trawlers into British ... Read more »

Ex-Trump adviser is out at Newsmax after criticism of vaccine mandates clashed with the right-wing outlet's policy, report says

Rally goers hold signs protesting vaccines at the “World Wide Rally for Freedom”, an anti-mask and anti-vaccine rally, at the State House in Concord, New Hampshire, May 15, 2021.JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP ... Read more »

Why the New Coronavirus Variant Triggered Selloffs in Bitcoin and Stocks

After scientists identified a new variant of the virus causing Covid-19, countries restricted travel to and from southern Africa. WSJ’s Anna Hirtenstein explains that investors have turned to bonds and ... Read more »

Terence Lewis ignores Malaika Arora as Nora Fatehi arrives on India's Best Dancer, Geeta Kapur says ‘close your mouth'

© Provided by Hindustan Times Terence Lewis and Nora Fatehi on India’s Best Dancer season 2. Nora Fatehi will be the guest this weekend on dance reality show India’s Best ... Read more »

Bigg Boss 15: Rakhi Sawant's husband Ritesh reveals they ‘met on WhatsApp', she blocked him initially

© Provided by Hindustan Times Rakhi Sawant has entered Bigg Boss 15 as a VIP. Rakhi Sawant has finally introduced her husband Ritesh with her entry on Bigg Boss 15. ... Read more »

Jacqueline Fernandez's romantic selfie with conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar sparks controversy

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Jacqueline Fernandez has found herself in a new controversy after a picture of her and conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar surfaced on social media and ... Read more »

'Yodha Begins': Sidharth Malhotra shares glimpses from muhurat shot for Karan Johar's actioner as shoot starts

After a long wait, fans of Sidharth Malhotra have been on cloud nine as the star has had a great year with the success of his film, Shershaah. Now, Sidharth ... Read more »

Vicky Kaushal's cousin dismisses rumours of wedding with Katrina Kaif, says 'it's not taking place'

© Provided by Jagran English New Delhi | Jagran Entertainment Desk: As December is nearing, the rumours around Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal is getting rife. Ever since Vicky confessed ... Read more »

Malaika Arora, Akansha Ranjan and Kubbra Sait Perform Yoga Asanas, Sweat It Out Together

© Provided by News18 Bollywood’s Yoga idol Malaika Arora, along with Akansha Ranjan and Kubbra Sait had a great time during their yoga session recently as the three divas sweated ... Read more »

Man Utd and Liverpool braced for transfer battle as teenage wonderkid refuses contract

Manchester United and Liverpool may be fierce rivals on the field, but the pair often battle away from pitch as they regularly tussle for talent in the transfer market. This ... Read more »

Sara Ali Khan thanks 'Atrangi Re' director Aanand L Rai for her character 'Rinku' opposite Akshay Kumar and Dhanush

© Provided by DNA Sara Ali Khan took to her social media on Thursday to express gratitude to Aanand L Rai, who has helmed Sara’s next film ‘Atrangi Re’. She ... Read more »

On Suchitra Krishnamoorthi's Birthday, Watch 5 Memorable Tracks by the Singer

© Provided by News18 Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, the lovely actress who rose to fame with Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, turns 46 this year. This Bollywood actress has a beautiful voice and ... Read more »

India's Paytm Sept net loss widens, says maintains growth momentum

© Reuters/FLORENCE LO FILE PHOTO: The interface of Indian payments app Paytm is seen in front of its logo displayed in this illustration picture By Sankalp Phartiyal and Nupur Anand ... Read more »

IPL 2022: MS Dhoni DOESN'T want to be CSK's first retention, here's why

© Provided by Zee News Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni, who won the fourth title for his franchise this year, does not want to be the franchise’s first retention ... Read more »

IND vs NZ: R Ashwin, KS Bharat break Kiwi's opening partnership as Will Young departs for 89

© Provided by DNA FINALLY! After a whole day of going wicketless, R Ashwin was the man who broke the opening partnership of New Zealand on Day 3 of the ... Read more »

Country diary: I think it's an earthquake – but it's not coming from below

I’ve collected four boys from school today – my son and three playmates. Intending to eke out an afternoon of delicious sunshine, I drive us and the dog to the high point ... Read more »

Road test: the Volvo XC40 has style and substance

Walk into a Volvo showroom and you’ll notice two things. One is that the S60 is now the company’s only saloon, as Volvo has virtually become an SUV company; and ... Read more »

Bigg Boss 15: Simba Nagpal defends pushing Umar Riaz to the pool, has this to say about the 'atankwadi' comment

© Provided by Desimartini Simba Nagpal was the first contestant to be evicted this week. He was at the Bottom 6 and the top 5 were asked to save one ... Read more »

Indian Super League: Jamshedpur outplay FC Goa for a 3-1 win

© Provided by The Times of India PANAJI: FC Goa had another forgettable night in the Indian Super League (ISL) as Jamshedpur FC cruised to a 3-1 win at the ... Read more »

Kolkata Municipal Corporation Elections 2021: Full list of TMC councillor candidates

© Provided by The Financial Express The TMC in the last KMC polls in 2015 had won 126 seats, and 87 sitting councillors have been renominated. TMC Councillor List 2021: ... Read more »

EPF contributions will stop from December if you don't do THIS

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: The Employees Provident Fund, or EPF, is an important aspect of any corporate employee’s working life, and there are a few things to ... Read more »

281 test Covid-19 positive at Karnataka college, Health Minister Sudhakar rules out imposing curbs

File photo of Karnataka health minister K Sudhakar On Saturday, Karnataka health minister K Sudhakar said that SDM College of Medical Sciences in Dharwad district of the state has become ... Read more »

Nick Kyrgios blames sexual frustration for lack of on-court performance

© Provided by Mid-Day Australia`s controversial tennis star Nick Kyrgios, who has been in an on-off relationship with Chiara Passari, has revealed that sexual frustration affected his on-court performances early ... Read more »

IPL 2022 Retention Mumbai Indians: Aakash Chopra Votes For Suryakumar Yadav Over Ishan Kishan

© Provided by News18 IPL 2022 Retention Mumbai Indians: Aakash Chopra Votes For Suryakumar Yadav Over Ishan Kishan Former India opener Aakash Chopra feels that Mumbai Indians should retain Suryakumar ... Read more »

India reports 8,318 new Covid-19 cases; death toll up by 465

© Provided by Hindustan Times India reports 21,14 per cent less daily rise in Covid-19 cases on Saturday. (HT File Photo) India on Saturday recorded 8,318 new cases of the coronavirus ... Read more »

UP Police Admit Card 2021 for SI and ASI posts released, download link here

Uttar Pradesh Police Recruitment and Promotion Board, UPPBPB has released UP Police Admit Card 2021 for SI and ASI posts. Candidates can download the admit card through the official site ... Read more »

India's tour of South Africa: New COVID-19 variant puts series under scanner, BCCI to await centre's decision

© Provided by DNA Post the New Zealand series in India, the Men in Blue were to travel to South Africa for their upcoming tour which is scheduled to begin ... Read more »

Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme opens on Monday. Issue price, other details here

The Sovereign Gold Bond (SGB) Scheme 2021-22 – Series VIII will open for subscription for five days from Monday, November 29, according to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The ... Read more »

Bangladesh vs Pakistan, 1st Test Day 2 in Chattogram: Live Cricket Score and Updates

2021-11-27 10:13:00 IST asdasd Read more »

PIP: Britons can check whether they qualify for £608 payment using easy online tool

PIP is for anyone who is living with a health condition or disability that affects their everyday life and is awarded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It ... Read more »

France begin 2021 Davis Cup quest with victory over Czech Republic

France launched their quest for an 11th Davis Cup on Thursday night with a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in Innsbruck. The opening singles match in the men's national ... Read more »

WK: EU drug watchdog approves Pfizer Covid vaccine for children aged 5-11

The EU's drug regulator has approved this week the use of Pfizer-BioNTech's Cocid vaccine for use in children between the ages of 5 and 11 in a decision that comes ... Read more »

Markets plunge and oil crashes as traders panic over new Covid variant

NYSE trader The FTSE 100 suffered its worst fall in nearly 18 months on Friday and stock markets plunged around the world owing to fears that a new variant of ... Read more »

Why the omicron Covid variant is the most concerning so far

The new variant has a large number of mutations which could help it dodge immunity and make it more infectious Of all the variants so far, B.1.1.529 is causing the ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic