A new report from the United States military asserts that China is now in possession of more land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers than the U.S., further reflecting China’s ongoing military escalations as part of its quest to become a superpower.
The New York Post reports that the Armed Services Committees in both houses of Congress were notified of this development on January 26th by General Anthony Cotton, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command. However, even despite having more launchers, the U.S. still has more ICBM missiles, whereas many of the Chinese launchers are empty. The U.S. also maintains superiority over China in the size of its nuclear fleet, despite China’s continuing efforts to increase the size of its own nuclear arsenal.
Nevertheless, congressional Republicans are sounding the alarm over the news, indicating that China is becoming a greater threat by the day. Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that “China is rapidly approaching parity with the United States.”
“We cannot allow that to happen,” Rogers continued. “The time for us to adjust our force posture and increase capabilities to meet this threat is now.”
But Rogers pointed out that the U.S. is currently prohibited from expanding its arsenal due to the conditions of the “New START” arms control deal between the U.S. and Russia, which is set to expire in 2026.
By contrast, one of the leading figures in the negotiation of the START treaty, Stanford University professor Rose Gottemoeller, argued that rather than build up nuclear arms to intimidate China, the U.S. should try to bring China into the START treaty as well so they will also be bound by the same limitations.
“It’s in our national interest to keep the Russians under the New START limits,” said Gottemoeller. “We need to complete our nuclear modernization according to plan, not pile on new requirements.”
Even the Biden Administration’s Department of Defense has acknowledged the rising threat of China. In a policy document drafted last year, the Pentagon admitted that “by the 2030s the United States will, for the first time in its history, face two major nuclear powers as strategic competitors and potential adversaries,” referring to both China and Russia.
It has been estimated that, by 2035, China will have at least 1,500 nuclear warheads, compared to just around 400 in 2021.