China could have 1,500 nuclear warheads within 13 years, according to a new Pentagon report warning of Beijing’s plans to greatly expand its power in the coming decades and assert even more aggression over self-governing neighbor Taiwan.
The 196-page report, which is provided annually to Congress, outlines ambitions to realize a “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” by 2049 through economic, military, political and other means.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) also apparently sees the U.S. as “deploying a whole-of-government effort to contain” its rise.
Chinese “leaders believe that structural changes in the international system and an increasingly confrontational United States are the root causes of intensifying strategic competition between the PRC and the United States,” the Department of Defense (DOD) said.
China is seeking to mold the international order around its principles at the same time it builds up a world-class military with a network spread across the globe.
To bolster its national defense, China is on pace to expand its nuclear warhead stockpile from around 400 to 1,500 in 2035, according to the Pentagon’s estimates. It is expected to complete modernization of its national defense and armed forces by that year.
China is also pursuing methods to modernize and diversify its nuclear forces, boosting its infrastructure to increase nuclear arms production.
The People’s Liberation Army, China’s military force, launched 135 ballistic missiles in 2021, firing off more tests than the rest of the world combined last year, according to the Pentagon.
The DOD also noted that China has increased its aggression over Taiwan and that Beijing has several strategies it could employ against the democratic island, including a “full-scale amphibious invasion” to seize parts or all of the island.
Taiwan has remained one of the more contentious issues between the U.S. and China, which sees the island as historically part of the mainland.
The U.S. government operates under the One China policy, which recognizes Taiwan as part of China, but has informal ties with the country.
In August, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) traveled to Taiwan with a congressional delegation in a show of support for the nation. Pelosi’s visit sparked unprecedented Chinese military drills.
President Biden has made comments this year suggesting the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily, which the White House has walked back.
Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping this month, and both leaders promised there would not be a new “Cold War” amid heightened tensions and competition.
The report comes as widespread protests erupted in China this week over the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) strict COVID-19 policies.
Some demonstrators have even called for Xi to step down in the largest opposition movement the CCP has faced in decades.