Six 094 is not outrageously is high though, and it is reasonable to keep a SSBN development team over time. I think it is the main reason that PLAN did one-of-a-kind type commission on SSN fleets, so many variant over years meanwhile surface battleship got mass-produced in a short time once finalized plan. However nuclear deterrence is still a PLARF job as the main point is to reduce possibility of a conventional US-China war to zero.
For so many years, US "analyst" or "think tank" hypered on Taiwan because China is not in the MAD level nuclear deterrence. What China urgently needs right now is large quantity of warheads & delivery vehicles enough to blow up every major cities in CONUS. Neither SSBN nor ALBM can do this job.
It is so weird that ppl keeps talking about a non-existent US first strike against China as if China is conventionally threatening US to a point that US must use nuclear weapon to respond or the country collapses. On the contrary, China was under consistent American nuclear coercion for 70 years and it is US who should worry about this new development and how to deter Russia and China simultaneously instead of the other way around.
TL;DR if one is insecure of nuclear survivability after the nuclear expansion, they should haven't slept well for the past 70 years when Chinese MAD is non-existent.
Totally agreed, it is cool to keep SSBN industry and may find them handy in the future but certainly not right now. It is why they are making one-of-a-kind variant instead of mass producing like 052Ds.
Another point is SSBN can withhold the first wave of nuclear exchange and maintain Chinese nuclear status even after the nuclear war if the war ever stops here.
Well, my thinking is that a fleet of 6-8 SSBNs is reasonable for a fleet that manages to balance having a viable SSBN industry (and subsuppliers), and a moderate yet credible subsurface deterrence.
In coming years perhaps a max of 12 SSBNs would be a reasonable goal.
If they were pursuing 20-24 SSBNs, then I certainly agree that would be a bit much at this stage.
Meanwhile, most of their nuclear deterrence will of course be in land based TEL, and silos (especially the hundreds of new ones which should be compatible with the new heavyweight solid fuel ICBM that they're working on).