China is once again rejecting an attempt by the Biden administration to improve relations through diplomacy, this time regarding nuclear weapons.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said last week that global agreements governing nuclear weapons proliferation were weakening and invited Russia and China to the table for further negotiation on the issue. But China has no interest in talks anytime soon, the Chinese Communist Party told Semafor in a statement.
— Semafor (@semafor) June 9, 2023
“China’s nuclear strength is far from being on par with the U.S. and Russia. The time is not ready yet for [Beijing] to join the nuclear arms control negotiations proposed by some,” China’s Washington embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu said. “China upholds a defensive nuclear policy. It has promised not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and has maintained nuclear strength at the minimum level for national security needs.”
Russia also turned down Sullivan’s offer. The Kremlin said Russia cannot engage in arms control talks with the United States as long as Washington maintains a “hostile” posture toward Moscow in Ukraine, the outlet noted.
Sullivan warned that the world is at an “inflection point” when it comes to nuclear security and stability. He added that China is on pace to expand its stockpile of nuclear warheads from a current total of around 400 to roughly 1,500 by 2035, still far fewer than the nearly 4,000 nuclear warheads in the possession of the United States.
Sullivan pushed back on assertions from Republicans that the United States needs to expand its number of nuclear weapons to compete with Russia and China. He said that the correct route is instead to modernize and replace the current nuclear arsenal of the U.S.
“I want to be clear here — the United States does not need to increase our nuclear forces to outnumber the combined total of our competitors in order to successfully deter them,” he said. (RELATED: China Plants New ‘Trojan Horse’ Within Key US Ally Saudi Arabia)
The rebuke from China is just the latest diplomatic loss for the Biden administration vis-à-vis Beijing. The CCP also recently said it would not hold meetings with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, despite the fact that Secretary of State Antony Blinken is reportedly set to take his rescheduled trip to Beijing in the coming weeks.
President Joe Biden said in May he expects relations with China to “thaw very shortly.”