A Chinese Communist Party-managed newspaper on Friday called for the country to boost its nuclear arms strength, the Indo-Asian News Service reported.
The Global Times newspaper noted that in late 2011 then-U.S. Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain did not appear to recognize that China had nuclear weapons.
"This at least demonstrated China's weak level of nuclear deterrence in foreign eyes," said the newspaper.
The U.S. Defense Department carefully tracks developments in Chinese nuclear and missile efforts, though Beijing maintains a significant degree of strategic ambiguity on the exact makeup and capabilities of its strategic arsenal.
"The U.S. seems especially interested in the [Dongfeng 41] missile, which they believe could carry as many as 10 warheads," the newspaper said. "In August, China announced that the [People's Liberation Army Second Artillery Corps] had realized the capability of vehicle-mounted mobile launches for most strategic missiles."
"The SAC has made a great leap in lifting China's nuclear strength. China should continue this momentum, so that other players in the Asia-Pacific region gradually adapt to it," the newspaper said.
The Global Times, though, warned that too big a nuclear buildup could "lead to U.S. society pursuing impractical tough policies toward China."
Beijing is believed to hold roughly 240 nuclear warheads, according to analysts Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris. Meanwhile, the United States as of March 1 counted 1,737 deployed strategic warheads, which does not included tactical weapons or armaments held in reserve.
"In the long-run, China should not seek equal nuclear strength with the U.S., but it should endeavor to build an equal level of nuclear deterrence," recommended the newspaper.
"As a latecomer in developing nuclear weapons, China lacks experience in using nuclear strength. While building up nuclear hardware, China should also keep exploring how to integrate nuclear strength with its national goals," the newspaper advised.