|Whenever I read anything about the Chinese nuclear arsenal, I see it stated that China has only 20 ICBMs capable of reaching the US and 450 nuclear warheads in total. Can someone please enlighten me how these numbers are obtained? To me they simply lack any credibility. China had 20 ICBMs that could reach the U.S. 20 years ago and the same applies to the number of 450 nuclear warheads. I find it hard to believe they would not have built more (in fact, many more) in the meantime. It is not as if they could not afford it - Chinese economy now is far larger than the Soviet economy ever was. In fact, Chinese economy (in PPP terms) now is larger than US economy was in 1990 when the Cold War ended, so it would have no economic problems at all building more ICBMs and nuclear warheads. Of course, unlike the U.S. and Russia, they do not release information on the number of their nuclear weapons, so my theory is that the press and academia follows an inertia - someone stated those numbers sometime around 1980 and nobody has said anything different since then, so they have become 'unchanging conventional wisdom'. It would be interesting to read some new studies (without these not credible numbers being regurgicated without any explanation) on the matter, but if any exist they are surely classified.