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China Willing to Launch Preemptive Nuclear Strike?

By James Carafano

Yesterday, Heritage China expert Dean Cheng mused that something must be up. He wrote, “As the world rang in 2011, one of the lesser noticed events is the absence of a Chinese defense white paper for 2010. The biennial public explanation of Chinese military capabilities and intentions was due out by the end of December. Yet as of Tuesday morning, no report has been released. This is a striking omission, as the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been assiduous in producing these reports in a timely manner.”

Cheng thought maybe the Chinese had something to hide. There are a couple of high-level U.S.–Chinese meetings on the calendar: a visit of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates next week, followed by President Hu Jintao’s coming to America. So Cheng wondered that “there may be something to the report or its context that the Chinese are hesitant to highlight.”

Well, now a Japanese news network seems hot on the trail of what that might be, reporting that the “Chinese military will consider launching a preemptive nuclear strike if the country finds itself faced with a critical situation in a war with another nuclear state, internal documents showed Wednesday.”

The news that Beijing is more than willing to pull the nuclear trigger is a sobering story indeed.

Surely, it will come as a major embarrassment to President Obama, who was leading the high-fives after the Senate ratified the New START nuclear agreement, hailing how this was the first step on the “road to zero”—a world without nuclear weapons. The fact that the Chinese proclaim they have no interest in getting rid of nuclear weapons—except perhaps in an exchange of mushroom clouds—makes the White House look pretty foolish.

This headline comes on top of news out of the Russian Duma that it intends to declare that the New START agreement does indeed limit U.S. missile defense—which the White House assured the Senate in the debate over ratification that it did not. William Chedsey reports for that “Russia’s legislature says the New START nuclear arms treaty ratified last month by the U.S. Senate restricts the U.S. from building and operating missile defenses against nuclear attacks.

All this news could not make the White House look more silly. And there is more, including recent reports of Chinese ballistic missiles designed to take out U.S. carrier strike groups and fresh evidence of a new Chinese stealth fighter aircraft.

So here the Administration plans to “engage” with China having cut U.S. missile defense programs by 15 percent its first year in office, axing its only stealth fighter in production (the F-22), and signed a treaty with Russia that ensures that the U.S. will become a lesser nuclear power.

No wonder Chinese officials did not want to highlight what they are up to—as far as what the U.S. is doing, Beijing must be very happy with the way things are going.


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