WASHINGTON D.C.: During a meeting with foreign ministers of Asian countries and partner nations, Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, expressed his deep concern at China's growing nuclear arsenal, the State Department stated on Friday.
Addressing a virtual meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Blinken also called on China to cease its "provocative" behavior in the South China Sea and "raised serious concerns about ongoing human rights abuses in Tibet, Hong Kong and Xinjiang," the department added.
"The Secretary also noted deep concern at the rapid growth of the PRC's nuclear arsenal, highlighting how Beijing has sharply deviated from its decades-old nuclear strategy based on minimum deterrence," the statement noted, using China's official acronym for the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Both the Pentagon and State Department aired recent concerns at the buildup of China's nuclear forces, after think-tank reports based on satellite imagery showed it could be constructing hundreds of new silos for nuclear missiles.
Washington repeatedly called on China to join a new arms control treaty with itself and Russia. Last month, the State Department urged Beijing to cooperate "on practical measures to prevent destabilizing arms races."
A 2020 Pentagon report estimated China's nuclear warhead stockpile to be in "the low 200s" and projected it would double in size.
Analysts stressed the U.S. has some 3,800 warheads, and according to a State Department factsheet, 1,357 are being deployed as of 1st March.
Beijing said its arsenal is dwarfed by those of the U.S. and Russia and it is ready to join bilateral dialogues on strategic security "based on equality and mutual respect."
Blinken took part in a series of regional meetings this week to affirm the seriousness of the U.S. to engage with Asian countries to push back against China.