US President Joe Biden is quite shamelessly exposing himself as weak and incapable in face of China’s belligerence and stubbornness. Biden keeps using silly rhetoric- holding China accountable to follow rules. But the thing is Beijing doesn’t give two hoots when it comes to following rules. A weak Biden is realising this the hard way as he simply cannot force China to have nuclear talks.
When Trump was in power, he did not even try to engage China. He knew that the Communist nation would never discuss its nuclear arsenal. So, Trump kept exiting multilateral security arrangements like the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia and the Open Skies Treaty to liberate the US weapons programme and target China. But Biden squandered the leverage Trump was creating over China by trying to talk it out with the paper Dragon.
On Tuesday, the US Disarmament Ambassador Robert Wood told a U.N. conference that China is resisting bilateral talks with the Biden administration on nuclear weapons. Wood said, “Despite the PRC’s dramatic build-up of its nuclear arsenal, unfortunately, it continues to resist discussing nuclear risk reduction bilaterally with the United States.”
The US Disarmament Ambassador added, “To date Beijing has not been willing to engage meaningfully or establish expert discussions similar to those we have with Russia. We sincerely hope that will change.”
So, finally, the Biden administration is realising that Russia is a more responsible nuclear power that at least engages in meaningful discussions on the critical issue. But it was Biden himself who used to vilify Moscow while downplaying Chinese belligerence.
Beijing however remains unmoved. In the same U.N. conference, China’s envoy Ji Zhaoyu said, “We stand ready to carry out positive dialogue and exchange with all parties to jointly explore effective measures to reduce nuclear risk and to contribute to global strategic security.”
China’s response means that Beijing will continue to defy US attempts to hold nuclear talks. At the same time, Beijing would not even admit that it is the one avoiding US-China nuclear talks. Beijing is in denial mode, and this is really bad news for Washington.
Meanwhile, Biden is still pushing bilateral nuclear talks with Moscow. Earlier this year, Russia and the US agreed to renew the New START arms control treaty for another five years. So, Moscow and Washington will keep limiting their nuclear arsenal.
However, China will not even talk about its nuclear firepower. This works perfectly for Beijing. According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a US-based nonpartisan and non-profit organisation, “China closely guards information about its nuclear arsenal, making estimation unusually difficult. However, China has approximately 290 nuclear warheads.”
Beijing’s plans are even more dangerous. Editor of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece Global Times Hu Xijin too has gone as far as propounding that China should “expand the number of its nuclear warheads to 1,000 in a relatively short time.”
China is also looking to expand its Dongfeng-41 strategic missiles programme, which is estimated to have a range of 12,000-15,000 kilometres with strike capacity extending up to the Continental United States.
So, Beijing is bringing American territory under the radar of its nuclear arsenal. And Biden’s plans are rather pathetic- he is trying to talk to Beijing, but Beijing won’t talk. The US needs to ramp up nuclear deterrence against China, but the present administration is exposing its weakness before the Middle Kingdom.