U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about refugee programs for Afghans who have helped the U.S. during a briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, on August 2, 2021.
Brendan Smialowski | Reuters
America’s top diplomat expressed concern about China’s growing nuclear arsenal at a virtual meeting with foreign ministers from Southeast Asia, the State Department said on Friday.
Foreign Minister Antony Blinken outlined for representatives of the ASEAN Regional Forum, a meeting of more than 20 countries, a laundry list of provocative Chinese behavior in the region and on the world stage.
“The minister also expressed deep concern about the rapid growth of the PRC’s nuclear arsenal, which shows how far Beijing has deviated from its decades-long nuclear strategy based on minimal deterrence,” said Spokesman Ned Price, using the acronym for China’s official Names. People’s Republic of China.
Last month, a report from the American Federation of Scientists concluded that Beijing was in the process of building more than 100 missile silos in the eastern part of its Xinjiang region, a development that raises questions about China’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
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The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates that China has about 350 of the world’s atomic bombs, a fraction of the United States’ 5,550 and Russia’s 6,255.
The country’s top diplomat also warned of the violent military regime in Burma and ongoing human rights violations in Tibet, Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
Last month, the Biden government warned Hong Kong and Xinjiang companies of extensive regulatory risks as China continued to restrict political and economic freedoms in the region.
Blinken also called on China to stop provocative behavior in the hotly contested waters of the South China Sea.
The South China Sea, home to more than 200 swaths of land, serves as the gateway to global sea routes, which trade nearly $ 4 trillion annually. More than $ 1 trillion of this is tied to the US market. The ocean is also home to an estimated $ 2.6 trillion of recoverable offshore oil and gas.
Five plaintiffs – China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam – occupy nearly 70 controversial reefs and islets in the South China Sea. Over the years, claimants have built and expanded around 90 outposts on these controversial traits, research by CSIS ‘Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative shows.
The numerous overlapping sovereignty claims on the land have made it a home for military outposts. Beijing owns the lion’s share of these land features, with about 27 outposts peppered throughout.
Beijing’s interest in developing the country across the South China Sea is by no means new.
China first owned Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef in 1988 and has since equipped them with deep water ports, aircraft hangars, communications facilities, administrative offices and a 10,000-foot runway.