In response to aggression in the Indo-Pacific, , UK and have agreed a new deal called Aukus. As new alliances form in the Pacific against Beijing, a senior Chinese diplomat has said
Sha Zukang, former ambassador to the United Nations, told the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association Beijing should “re-examine and fine-tune” its approach to nuclear weapons.
Mr Sha said the “no-first-use” policy should be scrapped as the US “builds new military alliances and as it increases its military presence in our neighbourhood”.
While only using nuclear weapons in retaliation gives China “the moral high ground”, Mr Sha argued it is ”not suitable . . . unless China-US negotiations agree that neither side would use [nuclear weapons] first”.
He added: “For some time in the future, the US will see China as its main competitor and even its enemy.”
Since 1968, Beijing has adopted a policy where it would only use nuclear weapons in retaliation.
Western reports suggest China, the fifth country to develop nuclear weaponry, has an arsenal of between 250 to 350 missiles.
Hu Xijin, editor of the state-run outlet the Global Times, has said the People’s Liberation Army should enlarge its arsenal to 1,000 warheads.
He said: “We need to have a larger nuclear weapons arsenal to curb the US strategic ambitions and its impulses against China.
“You don’t beg for peaceful co-existence between countries but you need strategic tools to shape it.”
It comes after the US, UK and Australia announced Aukus, a “strategic partnership” between the three countries that will furnish Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was entering a “forever pact” with the US and UK, but stressed Canberra is not looking to start a nuclear conflict.
He said: “Let me be clear – Australia is not seeking to establish a nuclear industry or establish a civil nuclear capability, and we will continue to meet all of our nuclear non-proliferation obligations.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson added the deal was not directed to China.
He said: “This is fundamentally a great step forward for global security. It’s three very like-minded allies standing shoulder to shoulder creating a new partnership for the sharing of technology.
“It’s not exclusive. It’s not trying to shoulder anybody out. It’s not adversarial towards China for instance.”
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The Global Times warned of an arms race for nuclear submarines after the Aukus deal.
The outlet grimly added Australian soldiers were likely to be the “first to die” in a Chinese “counterattack” should war break out.
On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said foreign powers should not be allowed to interfere in the country’s affairs.
According to state media, he said: “The future of our country’s development and progress should lie firmly in our own hands.”