China might come under pressure to reconsider its long-standing “no first use” nuclear policy as it engages in a maritime arms race with the United States, analysts have warned.
Nuclear competition is brewing between the two countries as China makes gains in weapons development and Washington tries to limit Beijing’s military build-up in the South China Sea.
The United States is still decades ahead in nuclear weapons development but a successful test late last year of China’s new submarine-launched ballistic missile, the JL-3, is cause for concern in Washington.
The test signals that China is moving ahead with a new class of strategic submarines called SSBNs, vessels that could be equipped with nuclear-armed JL-3s and that would be more difficult to detect than conventional land-based nuclear weapons.
… Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said China might be trying to boost its sea-based deterrent capability strength by developing an array of weapons to enhance its offensive strike capacity.
But Beijing’s effort to develop precise land-based launchers, solid-fuelled ICBMs and hypersonic gliders would escalate the arms race among Beijing, Washington and other countries in the region, he warned.
“In various regional conflict scenarios we might have to take into account not just the role of the US Navy in tackling the Chinese SSBN threat but also the prospective roles played by other US allies and partners,” he said.
Several US partners “have built up significant [anti-submarine warfare] capabilities across the region”, he said.
Last updated on 07/02/2019