FirstFT: China to quadruple nuclear stockpile

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China plans to quadruple its nuclear stockpile by 2030, according to a Pentagon assessment that points to a shift in Chinese policy with big implications for the balance of military power.

The US defence department said China could have 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027 and would boost its stockpile — currently estimated in the low 200s — to at least 1,000 warheads by the end of the decade. It marked a dramatic increase from last year’s estimate when the Pentagon said China was on course to double its stockpile.

“If this was an emoji, it would be the ‘eyes popping’ emoji,” said Caitlin Talmadge, an expert on Chinese nuclear weapons at Georgetown University.

The US has 3,800 warheads with 1,800 deployed, according to the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

The Pentagon’s latest China military power report, which was released yesterday, said Beijing was “expanding the number of land, sea, and air-based nuclear delivery platforms and constructing the infrastructure necessary to support this major expansion of its nuclear forces”.

Do you think the US should do more to counter China’s growing military power? Tell me what you think at [email protected] Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. Here’s the rest of today’s news — Emily

Five more stories in the news

1. Fed to start winding back stimulus programme The Federal Reserve said it would begin scaling back its massive $120bn monthly bond-buying programme this month, a critical milestone for a US economy that is recovering from the pandemic and contending with surging inflation.

2. US puts Israeli spyware firm NSO Group on trade blacklist The US has added the Israeli military spyware company that created software traced to the phones of journalists and human rights activists around the world to a trade blacklist as it targets the growing surveillance threat posed by hacking-for-hire companies.

3. Iran nuclear deal talks to restart on November 29 Representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia and the UK will convene with Iran at a Vienna meeting chaired by the EU, Tehran and Brussels said yesterday, in a bid to salvage diplomatic negotiations over the pact and find a way for the US to rejoin the agreement.

4. Crushing Virginia defeat stokes Democrats’ fears Republican Glenn Youngkin, the former co-chief executive of the private equity group Carlyle, won Virginia by two points over Terry McAuliffe, former Democratic governor. Polls had suggested a tight race, but the result was a stunning defeat in a state where Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by 10 points just a year ago.

5. Ant Group-backed mobile payment app shares double on IPO Shares in Kakao Pay, South Korea’s most popular mobile payments app, more than doubled yesterday as the company made its delayed stock market debut.

Thanks to those who voted in our poll yesterday. Eighty-seven per cent of readers said Facebook was right to shutter its facial recognition system.

COP26 digest

Beijing has hit back at US criticism of Xi Jinping’s absence from the COP26 climate summit and said that the Xi was not allowed to join by video link.

A Mark Carney-led coalition of international financial companies has up to $130tn of private capital committed to hitting net zero targets by 2050. Lex says the pledge is too big to be credible.

BlackRock chief Larry Fink warned that pressure on public companies to pursue net zero targets — while leaving private ones out of the spotlight — is creating opportunity for “the biggest capital markets arbitrage in my lifetime”.

The money pledged by rich countries to help poorer countries adapt to climate change is shaping up to be a make or break issue at COP26.

Interview: Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate on Africa’s role in curbing emissions — and how she fought back after being cropped out of the picture.

The day ahead

Opec meeting Saudi Arabia, Russia and other oil producers will meet today to decide whether to increase more oil supply to the global market. Opec and its allies have been gradually winding down the cuts, but some consumer countries believe it is not being done quickly enough.

Bank of England meets The markets expect UK interest rates to rise on the back of inflationary pressures when the central bank meets today.

What else we’re reading

Test your climate change knowledge How much do you know about how the world has changed owing to global warming — and can you trace it? See how accurately you can fill in the missing information in four key areas being discussed at COP26.

Evergrande bond and interest payment deadlines to watch The indebted Chinese property company faces rising repayment pressure on its dollar-denominated bonds in the coming months, despite making several last-minute transfers in October that allowed it to narrowly avoid a default. Here are the deadlines to watch.

The battle to control the metaverse: Microsoft vs Meta After spending much of the past two years stuck in group video meetings, are the world’s office workers ready to take a big step further into the digital realm? Office workers will decide which tech giant dominates the more immersive virtual world.

How we can share our divided world The short answer is: with difficulty. The longer answer is: by being ambitiously pragmatic, writes Martin Wolf. We need to accept that we share our planet and interact with one another too profoundly to avoid co-operation, however much we may dislike one another.

Democrats must look beyond Biden and Harris for 2024 It is not too soon for Democrats (and democrats) to start worrying about 2024, writes Janan Ganesh. And the party’s historic deference to establishment candidates invites losing to Donald Trump.


The FT’s Sam Leith details the trials of a middle-aged man’s search for socks. Pairs that are comfortable, no-nonsense and lasting have become something of a Holy Grail, he writes.

© Dóra Kisteleki

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