Aby May 26th, 2007
A lot of us are interested to know what are the chances of China standing against USA in the advent of a nuclear war. As both the Chinese and American administration are quite aware of the destruction such a war could cause, they are unlikely to ever consider a nuclear confrontation against each other. Hence this is a brief analytical article just to stimulate a discussion on the probable scenarios in case such a war were to happen. We will start off with a brief political background, after which we’d get on to the scenario analysis.
The Dong Feng 5A ICBM which has a range of 13000+ km and can carry up to 3 H-bomb warheads capable of killing 7.5 million people in NYC in less than 10 seconds.
The Chinese military maintains a fairly credible nuclear deterrance against its adversaries, without investing in a jumbo nuclear arsenal like Russia or the US. It all began with China’s successful transformation to a nuclear power on October 16, 1964. It was a major landmark and an achievement of the Chinese people in their struggle to defend their nation and also immune themselves from nuclear blackmail by the Americans.
Initially, the Chinese government vehemently opposed nuclear armament which fell to deaf ears of the then nuclear nations. The continued threats and reluctance of Britain and America to accommodate their legitimate interests led Mao Zedong to make China a military and nuclear might, with enough second strike capability to hit back if attacked by the United States. The United States has been traditionally a war economy, that profited from wars taking place in far away nation. Hence Mao Zedong, who was at odds with American interests in its neighbourhood, considered it a risk to the Chinese people not to develop a credible nuclear defence against the US.
A nuclear war between China and United States will likely be a US first strike on China. Due to its smaller arsenal and limited number of ICBMs, China would not risk a first strike on the US mainland. Hence, we will assume a US first strike and what follows. In the advent of a US first strike on China, the targets are more likely to be Chinese ICBM silos, as the US would first attempt to eliminate chances of retaliation as much as possible. A US attack on China’s ICBM silos would kill at least 1.5 million to 20 million civilians depending on the type and the number of warheads used. Assuming that most of its land based silos have been destroyed, China’s choice of retaliatory strike would be its submarine based SLBMs. Assuming that 12 JL-2 SLBMs with MIRV warheads are launched from two Jin class submarines, at least 20 of the largest American cities could be targeted. This would result in extermination of 25 million to 100 million civilians, which would be more devastating on the US than the first strike would be on China.
If we take more realistic standards, a nuclear war between China and USA would result in much higher casualties for both sides, due to real world lack of considerations. One would most likely obliterate the other or worse, both countries would be destroyed before a truce or victory call could be reached. It is more likely that Americans would suffer the most because of their lower population and lack of creature comforts (that they are habituated to). The Chinese on the other hand, would have more suvivours because of their much larger population, which is also much more adapted to adversity and wars than the American people.
Possibly Related posts:
- China vs United States: Nuclear Arms Race
- Can the United States Win a War Against China?
- Nuclear ICBMs of United States and Russia - Past and Present
- China’s MAD Nuclear Deterrance Against USA
- Nuclear Missile Forces - USA vs China vs Russia