China shifts PLA’s nuke missiles strategy toward “nuclear triad”: Analysts

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The rejig at China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force points to a paradigm shift in Xi’s nuclear strategy toward the so-called “nuclear triad” – a three-pronged force that allows nuclear missiles to be launched from the air, sea, and land – under an integrated command system, analysts warn, reported Voice of America (VOA).

Many are hence unwilling to fight Xi’s war, he said.

He argued that Xi has likely lost control of the rocket force and asserted the PLA is increasingly reluctant to pledge allegiance to the Chinese leader, as reported Voice of America (VOA)..

Analysts say that will make China’s nuclear deterrence more potent and increase the security threat to the United States, as per VOA.

Voice of America is a US international broadcaster, providing news and information for digital, television, and radio platforms.  

This week, two heads of the elite force in charge of the People’s Liberation Army’s conventional and nuclear missiles were replaced by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who also serves as the military’s supreme commander.

Xi appointed Wang Houbin, a former deputy navy commander, and Xu Xisheng, a former political commissar of the air force’s Southern Theatre Command, to serve as the commander and political commissar of the rocket force, respectively, on Monday.

“What has happened is that, in order to have a modern and effective nuclear deterrent, is to have what is called the nuclear triad. So, three ways of delivering nuclear missile or nuclear deterrence … This is more about putting nuclear weapons on planes, on submarines and not necessarily on land-based missiles,” Alexander Neill, a Singapore-based adjunct fellow at the think tank Pacific Forum, told VOA Mandarin by phone on Tuesday.

According to Neill, China must have the capability to launch nuclear bombs from various positions in order to be a contemporary nuclear po

Neill said if China is diversifying its nuclear program, Xi is demanding “absolute loyalty” across the PLA to the Communist Party under his reign, especially from those who could end up pressing the nuclear button.

That’s why Xi launched the latest round of his anti-graft campaign, although corruption remains a deep-rooted problem with which the party is struggling, he added.

wer with aggressive and offensive capabilities. This will confuse its enemies.

Li Yuchao and Xu Zhongbo will be replaced by Wang and Xu.

According to reports, Li and his two former assistants Zhang Zhenzhong and Liu Guangbin were detained as part of an anti-corruption probe.

According to Chang Ching, a research researcher at the Taipei-based Society for Strategic Studies, Xi’s choice of former heads of the Navy and air force to oversee the rocket force shows he is building a unified command system that will integrate nuclear weapon arsenals across three armed forces.

“[The PLA] will eventually integrate the navy’s and the air force’s nuclear defence and offence capabilities. This is an inevitable trend. I believe that nuclear weapons-related officers from both the Navy and the air force have already served in the rocket force before the top leadership reshuffle. China’s finally moving toward a nuclear force with a unified command structure,” Chang told VOA Mandarin by phone Tuesday.

If China is diversifying its nuclear programme, according to Neill, Xi is demanding “absolute loyalty” from every member of the PLA to the Communist Party under his reign, especially from those who may ultimately be responsible for pressing the nuclear button.

Xi initiated the latest round of his anti-graft campaign, although corruption continues to be a pervasive issue with which the party is still grappling, he noted.

The former PLA navy officer Yao Cheng, who fled to the United States in 2016, said that Xi has likely lost control of the rocket force and that the PLA is becoming less willing to pledge allegiance to the Chinese president.

Yao referred to Xi’s anti-graft purges as “selective,” which has snared hundreds of military officers over the course of his 10-year leadership and turned many generals against him.

Many are therefore reluctant to participate in Xi’s war, he claimed.

Yao also referred to the incoming commander of the rocket force, Wang, whom he had previously worked with in the navy, as an “incompetent” leader.

“He’s someone who is obedient and follows the boss’s lead. His weakness is that he has long served as a staff officer, who has never led troops and lacks specialities. He can’t possibly manage the rocket force well because, for one, he’s an amateur whom the elite force will be unconvinced with and look down on,” Yao told VOA Mandarin via Zoom on Tuesday.

After hearing from sources close to the situation that Li’s son may have leaked information to the US, Yao was the first to publicly admit that Li, the force’s outgoing commander, was being investigated for corruption in late June.

He said that Ju Qiansheng, the PLA Strategic Support Force Commander, was also being probed.

Yao stated that in order to reveal the locations and purposes of the rocket force’s nine bases, senior officers may have leaked intelligence to the United States. A 255-page report published last year by the Air University’s China Aerospace Studies Department contained details on the bases.

These, in Yao’s opinion, are all indications that PLA officers are fearful of the possibility of a war between China and the United States over Taiwan, Voice of America reported. 

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