Western media, including the Guardian, recently reported that China will send a submarine armed with nuclear missiles into the Pacific for the first time.
The Pentagon also predicted in an earlier report that China will probably conduct its first nuclear deterrence patrol in 2016.
There is no official comment from the Chinese government on the news.
Strategic nuclear missiles are the foundation of a military deterrence. China has been adopting an "effective nuclear deterrence" strategy, with much fewer nuclear warheads than the West powers. Also, China is the only one among the nuclear powers to announce a no-first-use policy. It means that China's nuclear deterrence lies in its capability to strike back.
In the meantime, China's nuclear deterrence must be real and effective so as to play an important role in the US government's making of its China policies - just as when any country assesses the US power, it will immediately think about the US aircraft carriers and not risk a head-on military confrontation with the US.
However, the US might not have a clear idea of China's nuclear deterrence. Two US scholars predicted in 2006 that the US was capable of destroying all the nuclear forces of both Russia and China. Herman Cain, a 2012 US presidential election candidate, did not know China was a nuclear power. It reflects the lack of recognition in the US of China's strategic capabilities.
As Sino-US tensions build, it is necessary for China to strengthen its capability for nuclear retaliation. It will help with balance in the Asia-Pacific region and enhance the US willingness to seek peace with China.
China's technologies related to nuclear-powered submarine and the launch of strategic missiles from below the water have been advancing. It is time the People's Liberation Army sends nuclear submarines into the depth of the Pacific Ocean for regular patrols.
China's land-based ballistic missile mobility has also witnessed significant upgrades. The survival capability of China's nuclear forces are much better than in the past.
History shows that balanced power better contributes to peace. China should increase its number of nuclear weapons, and enhance their survival power and capability to hit the targets. It is the most important foundation of China's national security.
The US first built the world's largest nuclear arsenal, then developed missile defense systems in order to destroy nuclear threats from other countries and keep itself the absolute leader in strategic deterrence. China must ruin its plan.
A nuclear-free world is only possible when nuclear powers are balanced. A single nuclear power will only lead to hegemony.