China has surpassed the United States in its supply of land-based intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, U.S. Strategic Command informed Congress amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing.
While many of China's launchers are just empty silos, the nation's activities are still "a portent of the scale of China's longer-range ambitions," according to the Wall Street Journal, which obtained the Jan. 26 letter from Gen. Anthony Cotton to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.
The warning comes as China shows heightened hostility toward the United States and its allies, reportedly gearing up for an invasion of neighboring Taiwan. Tensions escalated last week when a Chinese spy balloon was spotted near U.S. military and nuclear sites in Montana. President Joe Biden waited to shoot down the airship until it crossed the continental United States, prompting criticism from Republicans who say Biden's delay displays weakness to our top adversary.
"He really gave an order to shoot down a spy plane from China on Wednesday and it didn't happen till Saturday?" asked House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R., La.).
In the State of the Union address on Tuesday, Biden framed America and China's relationship as competitive. "Today, we're in the strongest position in decades to compete with China or anyone else in the world," the president said.
Republicans expressed concern that China is gaining on the United States regarding its nuclear arsenal. Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said that China's arsenal is "approaching parity" with the United States.
"We cannot allow that to happen. The time for us to adjust our force posture and increase capabilities to meet this threat is now," Rogers said.
While the Biden administration has increased its budget for nuclear arms, the U.S. military lags behind China in ballistic missile testing.
"The Department of Defense said China launched around 135 ballistic missiles for testing and training purposes during the previous year—a figure greater than all other countries combined, launches in conflict zones being the exception," according to Business Insider.