• By The Financial District


China is attempting to at least double the number of nuclear warheads in its arsenal in the next decade and its military has already equaled or surpassed the United States in a series of key areas, according to a new Pentagon report released Tuesday (Wednesday, September 2, 2020 in Manila.)

It suggests that Beijing has made major strides in areas such as ship building, the development of ballistic and cruise missiles as well as integrated air defense systems. The report detailing China's military capabilities comes amid mounting tensions between the Washington and Beijing over a range of issues, including Chinese military activities in the South China Sea and US-support to Taiwan. It's also published in the run up to the 2020 election as President Donald Trump is looking to make his increasingly aggressive stance towards Beijing a key campaign issue, Ryan Browne reported for CNN.

"Over the next decade, China's nuclear warhead stockpile—currently estimated to be in the low- 200s—is projected to at least double in size as China expands and modernizes its nuclear forces," the report says, adding that the number of warheads on Chinese land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles that are "capable of threatening the United States is expected to grow to roughly 200 in the next five years."

"China's nuclear forces will significantly evolve over the next decade as it modernizes, diversifies, and increases the number of its land-, sea-, and air-based nuclear delivery platforms," the report said, adding that "China is pursuing a 'nuclear triad' with the development of a nuclear capable air-launched ballistic missile and improving its ground and sea-based nuclear capabilities." The Trump administration has long sought to include China in its nuclear arms control talks with Russia, something Beijing has resisted. And while the number of Chinese nuclear warheads is growing rapidly, its overall stockpile is still dwarfed by that of Russia and the US.