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Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe told delegates at the Shangri-La Dialogue on Sunday that China had made progress in developing a nuclear arsenal but would only use the new weapons for countermeasures. self-defense.
Asked about reports last year of the construction of more than 100 new nuclear missile silos in eastern China, he said the country “has always followed a proper path to develop nuclear capabilities for the protection of our country”.
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The minister said nuclear weapons displayed at a military parade in Beijing in 2019 were operational and deployed. These weapons included upgraded launchers for the Chinese DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles.
“China has been developing its capabilities for more than five decades. It’s fair to say that there has been impressive progress,” he said. “China’s policy … is consistent. We use it for self-defense. We won’t be the first to use nuclear [weapons].”
He said China’s ultimate goal for its nuclear capabilities was to prevent a nuclear war.
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“We have developed nuclear capabilities to protect the hard work of the Chinese people and protect our people from the scourge of nuclear war,” he said.
Last year, the US State Department said China’s nuclear development was concerning and it appeared the Asian country was moving away from decades of a minimal deterrence nuclear strategy.
The State Department urged China to engage with it “on practical steps to reduce the risks of destabilizing arms races.”
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Reuters contributed to this report.
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