China on Tuesday reacted angrily to comments made the day before by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. The NATO chief while speaking before the military alliance’s annual arms control conference said that not only is China ‘irresponsibly’ refusing to join international arms control talks, but is recklessly pursuing nuclear arms “without any limitation or constraint.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin dismissed the comments as “hype”, emphasizing the “defensive” and deterrent nature of its nuclear program. “China expresses serious concern and resolutely opposes NATO’s constant hyping of the theory on Chinese nuclear threat,” Wang told a press briefing.
“China has always adhered to the defensive nature of its nuclear strategy and maintained its nuclear potential at the lowest level in line with the needs of state security“, Wang added.
“China strictly adheres to its policy of never being the first to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances, Beijing has made a clear unconditional commitment not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states and nuclear-weapon-free zones,” he explained further.
He also took the occasion to demand that NATO withdraw many of its nuclear warheads deployed across Europe, while seeking to emphasize that true comprehensive disarmament would begin with the United States reducing its own vast arsenal, which alongside Russia remains the largest in the world.
Stoltenberg’s Monday comments singling out the “large number of missile silos” China is rapidly building…
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) September 7, 2021
“China is building a large number of missile silos, which can significantly increase its nuclear capability. All of this is happening without any limitation or constraint. And with a complete lack of transparency,” Stoltenberg said in the Monday speech.
He also urged for Beijing to take full responsibility for arms control, which it so far has refused to do. “As a global power, China has global responsibilities in arms control.” However, China sees itself as unfairly singled out, especially given the large nuclear arsenal NATO possesses – again mostly through the United States.