Chapter 4 China’s Development of Nuclear Warheads
In July 2021, the U.S. media mentioned that James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California has determined, based on satellite images, that China is building a large number of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch facilities in Yumen, Gansu. Meanwhile, the Chinese official media denied the allegation and claimed that the so-called “missile launch facilities” are wind turbine foundations under construction. After the media coverage, the opinions from social media on military strategies were divided. Some thought it was a deliberate misjudgment from the U.S, while others believed China was deceiving the enemies. However, the truth of this particular event is not important. When we track long-term trends, we will never change the determination on overall directions due to one-off events. As mentioned in the introduction, China started to modernize its nuclear weapons—as a natural course of action—after it had completed the modernization of traditional military equipment. It is important to the realization of their dreams as a powerful nation and a powerful military force. With traditional weapons alone, it is not possible to obtain any advantage in negotiations or international competition. While we cannot impose any restraints on China’s modernization of nuclear weapons, it is still necessary to keep a close eye on China’s development in nuclear weapon modernization and extract the possible trends regarding Taiwan’s national security and national defense in order to prepare and minimize potential conflicts. The following section explains the factors relevant to China’s development of nuclear weapons by focusing on China’s nuclear policy, the current inventory of nuclear warheads, and the R&D direction on warheads. These three elements constitute China’s nuclear weaponry strengths in the future. Analyses and judgments are conducted on China’s number, types, and deployment methods of warheads in due course.