Why Is China Building Nuclear Weapons?
There is a reason that the Chinese leadership feels the need to build nuclear weapons. Why is China building nuclear weapons? China’s recent moves to get closer to Russia and acquire nuclear power has many reasons. For one, it makes sense for China to become more self-reliant in its energy resources. For another, it makes sense that the Chinese leadership would want to protect China from external threats which come from various directions. It also makes sense that China has been trying to find ways to become less dependent on the U.S., either through strengthening ties at the military or intelligence relationship, or deterring North Korea with sanctions and other forms of trade embargoes.
What exactly is it that they are hoping to accomplish through their nuclear ambitions?
The two most common reasons that the Chinese leadership offers are that they are trying to prevent the deployment of U.S. Navy ships into the territorial waters around China as well as deter Russian naval expansion. Since the nuclear power projection capabilities of both Russia and the United States are on the rise, this is an important issue. Russia and China have been pursuing different strategies for ensuring their own spheres of influence.
The first reason that the Chinese leadership is pursuing this nuclear power projection is because it provides them with an opportunity to develop closer ties with Russia and possibly Iran as well. It is very doubtful that Iran will go along with Chinese nuclear power efforts since Iran is currently under U.S. sanctions. However, developing stronger ties with Russia could give the Chinese the opportunity to convince the Russians that they have a close relationship with the Russians and that they would be better served by purchasing Russian made nuclear weapons. Additionally, the Russians have been upgrading their aging nuclear power stations and are upgrading their overall military presence in Asia.
Another reason that the Chinese are pursuing nuclear power is because of their long-term interest in a peaceful nuclear weapons program. Since the U.S. and the Soviet Union were the leaders in developing nuclear weapons, China wants to be competitive in that region as well. The Chinese economy would be devastated if they found out that their competitors were getting nuclear weapons first. In addition, the Chinese government is wary of possible U.S. military action in the event that North Korea gets a nuclear weapon.
One of the reasons that the Chinese leadership has decided to build nuclear weapons is because it provides them with an opportunity to reduce their defense budget. Although the Chinese economy is growing steadily, they need to invest in better military hardware to deter any aggression from either Russia or the US. For this reason, the purchase of Russian made nuclear weapons would make more sense than building American nuclear weapons. Indeed, it is somewhat ironic that they are the biggest purveyors of violence in the world and yet they are trying to decrease their military expenditures.
One final reason that the Chinese are building nuclear power plants is to reduce their dependence on the US for their energy needs. The US is currently the largest single user of energy from nuclear power, using nuclear power to produce a little over twenty percent of their electricity. China’s leadership realizes that if they wanted to reduce their dependency on the US that they would have to start building nuclear power plants as well. If the Chinese began production of nuclear weapons soon they would become the largest manufacturer of nuclear power in the world. This would provide enormous leverage for negotiations with the US and allow them to get more favorable terms on trade.
Finally, another one of the main motivations behind the Chinese nuclear buildup is so they can cut defense spending
Although China is not a large manufacturer of conventional weapons, they are still spending billions of dollars on their navy, planes, and trucks. By building nuclear power plants and weapons we can make sure that China continues to invest in its military, while at the same time reducing its overall defense budget. This makes perfect sense.
There are a number of reasons that you might ask yourself, “Why is China building nuclear weapons?” There is really only one answer to that question and it comes down to two factors. Either China does not believe in human rights or it feels it is necessary to hedge their bet that they will survive any U.S. force rollback. Although there are additional reasons that are both internal and external, these two reasons are the driving factors behind their nuclear program.