China submarine
China submarineReuters

Beijing has decided to send nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines into the Pacific Ocean in view of the expansion of the missile defence system of the United States, the Guardian reported. The Chinese military has confirmed the patrol, which is said to be the first, but the timing remains unconfirmed.

However, the Pentagon's annual report on Chinese military developments, dated May 18, said: "China will probably conduct its first SSBN nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in 2016." 

The U.S.-developed hypersonic glide missiles capable of hitting China within an hour of the launch and the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea are the reasons for starting a patrol, the Chinese military said, adding that these were huge threats to China.

However, the Chinese government under the leadership of President Xi Jinping has reiterated that the country would not be the first to use the nuclear weapons, which is being developed only as a deterrent.

China also feels the THAAD deployment and U.S.' missile defence expansion is likely to disturb the global strategic balance and is capable of leading to a new arms race. It had warned South Korea of tensions between the two countries if they go ahead with THAAD deployment. "No harm shall be done to China's strategic security interests," the foreign ministry said.

The move has come amid the tensions prevailing between Washington and Beijing over the disputed South China Sea.