China declines to meet with US on nuclear arms control. Why?

10:40 03.05.2024 •

Photo: AP

China has rejected US efforts to resume talks on arms control, following a November 2023 meeting on nuclear weapons that left US officials hopeful of continuing negotiations with their Chinese counterparts.

“Unfortunately, the PRC has declined a follow-on meeting and has not provided a substantive response to our suggested options,” a State Department spokesperson told.

The spokesperson said that the Biden administration had proposed “common-sense steps that addressed fundamental risks for conflict and uncontrolled escalation in the nuclear and space domains.” This included improving crisis communications with Beijing, instituting pre-launch notifications of strategic ballistic missile test launches, and efforts to lower tensions in space.

Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, told Semafor that the US should “stop its megaphone diplomacy,” and called instead for “countries with the largest nuclear arsenals” to “significantly and substantially” reduce their own nuclear arsenals to further arms controls negotiations. The remarks did not single out the US but were a clear reference to Washington, which maintains an estimated 5,000 nuclear warheads — although Russia, an important China partner, holds around 5,580 of its own.

The US and China held their first meeting on nuclear arms control in nearly five years in November, and while those talks did not lead to substantial breakthroughs, sitting down to discuss their growing nuclear rivalry was seen as a small step forward.

“On the arms-control front, we really want to see China respond to some of our more substantive ideas on risk-reduction, and we’re still waiting to see if they will,” the White House’s top arms control official, Pranay Vaddi, said at an event at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies in January.

Concerns have steadily grown in Washington about China’s growing nuclear arsenal, which the Pentagon has said now includes more than 500 operational nuclear warheads and is expected to reach 1,000 by the end of the decade.

Chinese officials have said that they continue to embrace a “no-first use-policy,” which US officials believe to be increasingly at odds with Beijing’s growing nuclear stockpile. The Chinese foreign ministry’s top arms control official called on the US in February to adopt a similar policy.


… The US has a strange policy – they constantly threaten China, and at the same time they want China to negotiate with them in return. If it is important for the United States to maintain normal relations with China and to conduct negotiations on important issues, then Washington needs to change its policy of threats and pressure. But they still believe it is possible to pursue both goals. No, the world has changed and China as well.


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