Hu Xijin, the editor of the Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times, considers enhancing China's nuclear program as being vital to the country's "strategic deterrence" against the United States.
Protests in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the COVID-19 pandemic and accusations China's engaged in a genocide against the Uighur Muslims are sowing deeper divisions in an already strained relationship between China and the United States. With Beijing one of America's top concerns, President Joe Biden has sought to strike a stern tone, while China sees much of America's actions and comments to be an encroachment on its sovereignty.
The increasingly confrontational rhetoric and military maneuvers coming out of the two countries have raised concerns about a potential war.
"We must be prepared for an intense showdown between China and the U.S.," Hu wrote in a Thursday op-ed for the Global Times. "The number of China's nuclear warheads must reach the quantity that makes U.S. elites shiver should they entertain the idea of engaging in a military confrontation with China."
Hu advocated for "rapidly" increasing the number of commissioned nuclear warheads, DF-41s, an intercontinental ballistic missile, and strategic missiles that have "long-range" capabilities.
The editor posted the same comments on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform.
China and the United States have been sparring over a range of issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Hu's op-ed came one day after Biden announced he instructed the Intelligence Community to "double down" on their efforts to identify the COVID-19 origin, including coming up with a list of questions that China has to answer.
The Intelligence Community hasn't ruled out the possibility that COVID-19 originated in a laboratory, a notion that China vehemently dismissed as being politically motivated and anti-science. Officials have also attempted to shift blame to the United States' Fort Detrick, citing no evidence, and accused Biden of "stoking confrontation and sowing division" with the Intelligence investigation.
Before Biden drew China's ire for his push for an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, tensions mounted over an American warship sailing through the Taiwan Strait. The American military maintained that the ship's transit was in line with international order and demonstrated the United States' commitment to a "free and open Indo-Pacific." China, however, saw it as a threat to its control over Taiwan and accused the U.S. of "endangering peace and stability" in the region.
In his op-ed, Hu wrote that building up China's nuclear arsenal is important because America's "strategic containment" of China is becoming "increasingly intensified.
Having that military buildup is a "cornerstone of China's strategic deterrence against the U.S.," according to Hu.