China is on pace to more than triple its nuclear warhead stockpiles by 2035 the Pentagon warned in a report to Congress Tuesday.
The report, titled the “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China” assessed that China “probably” expanded its nuclear program in 2021 and its stockpiles have “surpassed 400” warheads.
“If China continues the pace of its nuclear expansion, it will likely field a stockpile of about 1,500 warheads by its 2035 timeline,” the Department of Defense assessed.
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Beijing is looking to complete the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” by 2049 by modernizing politically, socially and militarily under a three-step plan – a date that would mark the 100-year anniversary of the creation of the PRC.
In order to achieve this overarching goal China is looking to boost its military capabilities to be able to invade Taiwan by 2027, achieve “basically complete modernization” of its armed forces by 2035 and achieve a “world-class military” by 2049.
The Chinese government is also looking to integrate its civilian populations in its overhaul under a “Military-Civil Fusion” plan that the report warned will integrate China’s defenses with its civilian technology and industrial sectors.
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Beijing plans to fuse its civilian and military sectors through a combined effort to integrate science and technology innovations, blend military and civilian expertise, integrate civilian and military infrastructure requirements and leverage civilian services for military purposes.
The PRC also plans to expand China’s “national defense mobilization system to include all relevant aspects of its society and economy for use in competition and war.”
A senior defense official speaking on background described the plans as “ambitious” and said “it remains to be seen” whether China would actually be able to achieve these goals in the time frame it has laid out.
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The official said the latest report to Congress is intended to help the U.S. “identify key vulnerabilities in an adversary’s operational system” to then “launch precision strikes against those vulnerabilities” in the hopes of “collapsing” Beijing’s plans.
The report warned Congress that China is looking “amass its national power” to transform geopolitics to be more favorable in Beijing’s national interest – including by beefing up its nuclear capabilities to strengthen its “strategic deterrent.”
The Pentagon earlier this year listed China as its chief security threat in its latest National Defense Strategy issued to Congress.