China needs more nuclear weapons to deal with Donald Trump should the US treat Beijing unacceptably, according to a government mouthpiece newspaper.
An editorial in the pro-government Global Times said China should ‘significantly’ increase military spending and build more nuclear weapons as a response to comments made by the President-elect Donald Trump on the country’s policies.
China should ‘build more strategic nuclear arms and accelerate the deployment of the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile’ to protect its interests, should Trump attempt to corner the country in an ‘unacceptable way’, it said.
‘China’s military spending in 2017 should be augmented significantly,’ it added in the print article run in both English and Chinese.
The paper is not part of the official state media, but has close ties to the ruling Communist Party.
Chinese officials are sometimes thought to use it as a rhetorical hammer.
The president-elect frequently savaged China on the campaign trail, even calling it America’s ‘enemy’ and pledging to stand up to a country he says views the US as a pushover.
But he has also indicated he is not interested in projecting US power away from home, saying America is sick of paying to defend allies like Japan and South Korea – even suggesting they should develop their own nuclear weapons.
The editorial follows a Twitter tirade by Trump earlier in the week blasting China’s trade and foreign policies, as well as a protocol-shattering decision to accept a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen.
Beijing regards Taiwan as a rogue province awaiting unification.
In the editorial, the Global Times said: ‘We need to get better prepared militarily regarding the Taiwan question to ensure that those who advocate Taiwan’s independence will be punished, and take precautions in case of US provocations in the South China Sea.’
On Wednesday, Trump selected Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who has close ties to Chinese President Xi Jinping dating back to the mid-1980s, as ambassador to China – potentially welcome news for Beijing, which called him an ‘old friend’ upon receiving reports of his nomination.
Nevertheless, the state-owned China Daily newspaper remained pessimistic about the future of relations with the US.
A Thursday editorial said that though the Asian giant had thus far responded to Trump with ‘laudable’ prudence, further provocations from the unpredictable politician would jeopardize Sino-US ties.
‘China has to prepare for the worst,’ it said.
‘What has happened over the past weeks tends to suggest that Sino-US relations are facing uncertainty as never before, as Trump’s words are not necessarily more bark than bite.’