China criticizes US for nuclear adversary claims, urges US to reduce its arsenal
China on Sunday criticized a U.S. government report that cast Beijing as a potential nuclear adversary and called on Washington to reduce its own much larger arsenal and join in promoting regional stability.
A Defense Ministry statement said China’s nuclear arsenal is the “minimum level” required for security. It pledged never to be the first to use nuclear weapons “under any circumstances.”
The sweeping U.S. nuclear strategy review issued Friday said Washington wants to prevent Beijing from mistakenly concluding that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is acceptable.
“The Chinese side expresses firm opposition” to the report, said a ministry spokesman, Ren Guoqiang.
“We hope the U.S. will abandon a Cold War mentality and earnestly shoulder its special and prior responsibility for its own nuclear disarmament,” said Ren.
The ruling Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, has the world’s fifth-largest nuclear arsenal, with 300 warheads, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The U.S. and Russia each have about 7,000 warheads, or about 20 times as many as Beijing.