According to U.S. media reports, the U.S. military has detected at least three strategic missile tests from the Second Artillery Force of the PLA within the last month. It is speculated that they are JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, Dongfeng-41 surface-to-surface multiple-warhead missiles and Dongfeng-5 multiple-warhead long-range missiles.
The U.S. side has paid special attention to the Dongfeng-41. It is said that the Dongfeng-41 can carry 10 nuclear warheads, which means it will be difficult for the U.S. missile defense system to intercept. In addition, the Chinese military had publicly announced last month that most strategic missiles of the Second Artillery Force of the PLA can be launched by vehicle-mounted launchers. It means that China’s land-based nuclear weapons have a valid viability when suffering a nuclear attack and can launch a second nuclear strike.
The combination of all these pieces of information shows that China has a believable and powerful nuclear deterrent. It is the footstone for China to guarantee its national security in the complex international environment and the foundation for the United States or the West to have to show a certain-level strategic respect to China.
The society of China is busy doing the arduous, specific and complex construction of people’s livelihood, and the nuclear topic has almost been forgotten by the public. Currently, it even seems to be unsuitable to talk about the nuclear power’s significance to the Chinese people. However, the urgent international situation will not change because of the domestic pace of China and China must make preparations in all aspects.
China must accelerate upgrading and strengthening its nuclear deterrent and make it real and believable. China should change its past nuclear image, explore the possibility of using the nuclear deterrent to change China’s strategic environment peacefully but firmly and make China a large country that no country dare provoke easily.
One year ago, the presidential candidate of the U.S. Republican Party John McCain was not aware China is a nuclear country, indicating that China’s nuclear power is relatively weak and China’s nuclear deterrent is not strong enough in the outside world’s opinion. In other words, China’s nuclear power did not play an important role in the course of the U.S. society forming its attitude towards China. It is a dangerous thing and may mislead the U.S. media to pursue an unpractical tough stance against China.
As the strategic mutual suspicion between China and the United States is strengthening, the United States’ anxiety on the rise of China is also rising. Therefore, it is necessary for China to upgrade its nuclear power to narrow the nuclear gap between China and the United States. In the long run, although China should not pursue a balance of nuclear powers between China and the United States, China should try hard to realize a balance of nuclear deterrents between China and the United States. It means that although the number of China’s nuclear weapons is smaller than that of the United States, the United States’ reverence towards China’s nuclear power should be equal to China’s reverence towards the United States’ nuclear power.
The Second Artillery Corps of China develops very rapidly in recent years. It already has the independent innovation capacity, has realized the change from the single-warhead missile to multi-warhead missile and the change from the fixed missile silo to mobile missile silo, and has also realized a qualitative change in the penetration capability. China should expand this trend in the future and guarantee the situation of the Asia-Pacific Region to get used to it gradually so that other strategic factors of the region will co-exist with it in a mutual-respect way.
China should allow its public to approach the Second Artillery Corps properly, make China’s nuclear power enter the visual field of the Chinese public, and make it a part of the public’s concept and recognition of the nation. China is a large country shouldering a strategic mission, and the situation that the public is not familiar with the nuclear power is not good for the whole society to form a healthy ideology.
China is a late starter in developing the nuclear weapon and lacks experience in “using it.” China needs to develop the hardware of the nuclear weapon and also needs to keep studying and exploring it and combine it with China’s complicated national mission. It is also an important innovative course of the country of China.