China's Cold War Nostalgia

Nuclear warhead deployment aims to show it's a superpower.

Part of the Chinese dream.

Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

“Mad Men” may be over, but no one told Xi Jinping. China’s decision to put multiple warheads into its intercontinental ballistic missiles, an approach traditionally associated with a first-strike threat, is projecting China’s stance back into a Cold War mindset. The development is symbolically significant, because China has had multiple warhead technology, known as MIRV, for years, but has never before chosen to deploy it. The decision puts the U.S. on notice that China won’t react passively to increasing containment efforts in the Pacific. And it also tells a domestic audience that President Xi’s vision of the “Chinese dream” isn't simply economic but also deeply nationalistic and even militaristic.

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