China is not expanding nuclear arsenal: Official

Fu Cong, the director general of the foreign ministry’s arms control department, said that China is working to ensure its nuclear deterrent meets the minimum level necessary for national defence.
China also said Russia and the United States - by far the world’s largest nuclear powers - should make the first move on disarmament.(Reuters file photo)
China also said Russia and the United States - by far the world’s largest nuclear powers - should make the first move on disarmament.(Reuters file photo)
Published on Jan 05, 2022 07:24 AM IST
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A senior Chinese arms control official denied on Tuesday that his government is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal, though he said it is taking steps to modernise its nuclear forces.

Fu Cong, the director general of the foreign ministry’s arms control department, said that China is working to ensure its nuclear deterrent meets the minimum level necessary for national defence.

“On the assertions made by US officials that China is expanding dramatically its nuclear capabilities, first, let me say that this is untrue,” he said.

The news conference was held a day after China, the US, Russia, Great Britain and France issued a joint statement on preventing nuclear war or an arms race. The US defence department said in a report in November that China is expanding its nuclear force faster than previously predicted and could have more than 1,000 warheads by 2030. The US has 3,750 nuclear weapons.

“China will continue to modernise its nuclear arsenal for reliability and safety issues,” Fu Cong said.

But he said Beijing would “continue to modernise its nuclear arsenal for reliability and safety issues”.

China also said Russia and the United States - by far the world’s largest nuclear powers - should make the first move on disarmament. “The US and Russia still possess 90% of the nuclear warheads on Earth,” he said, adding, “They must reduce their nuclear arsenal in an irreversible and legally binding manner.”

Tesla criticised for new showroom in Xinjiang

Tesla’s announcement that it has opened a showroom in Xinjiang has attracted criticism from US rights and trade groups on Tuesday. Xinjiang has become a significant point of conflict between Western governments and China in recent years, as UN experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in camps there.

China has rejected accusations of forced labour or any other abuses there, saying that the camps provide vocational training and that companies should respect its policies there.

The US electric car maker announced the showroom’s opening in Xinjiang’s regional capital, Urumqi, on its official Weibo account last Friday. “On the last day of 2021 we meet in Xinjiang,” it said in the post.

On Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest US Muslim advocacy organisation, criticised the move, saying that Tesla was “supporting genocide”.

Tiananmen: HK activist gets 15 months in prison

A Hong Kong court sentenced a 36-year-old barrister to 15 months in prison on Tuesday for inciting an unauthorised assembly to commemorate those who died in China’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Activist Chow Hang-tung, of the since-closed Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, was arrested the day before the June 4 anniversary of the crackdown last year.

Police have banned Hong Kong’s annual Tiananmen vigils for the last two years, citing coronavirus restrictions.

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