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Chinese Nuclear Policy and the Future of Minimum Deterrence

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Part of the Initiatives in Strategic Studies: Issues and Policies book series (ISSIP)

Abstract

The terms “nuclear strategy” and “nuclear doctrine” are seldom used in Chinese military and strategic studies literature. Instead, “nuclear policy” frequently appears to cover both the strategic thinking and the basic principles of developing, managing, and employing nuclear weapons. Indeed, this very difference in terminology highlights a core position of China’s nuclear calculus: their political—but not military—utility. This chapter analyzes the current Chinese nuclear policy, describes some of the major factors that may affect nuclear thinking in China after the cold war, and speculates over the future of China’s nuclear deterrence in the twenty-first century.

Keywords

  • Nuclear Weapon
  • Nuclear Weapon State
  • Nuclear Attack
  • Nuclear Arsenal
  • Nuclear Policy

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. Chinas National Defense in 2002, Released by the Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, December 2002, Beijing.

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  2. Chinas National Defense in 2002, Released by the Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, December 2002, Beijing.

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  3. Wu Tianfu, ed., Schools of Nuclear Strategic Thinking in the World (Beijing: Junshi Yiwen Press, 1999), 207.

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  4. Patrick Morgan contributed to this distinction in his Deterrence: A conceptual-Analysis (Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1977), 25–47.

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  5. In April 2003, the Chinese delegation issued a statement to the Second PrepCom for 2005 NPT Review Conference, saying, “China has always exercised [the] utmost restraint towards developing nuclear weapons, [and] kept its nuclear arsenal at the minimum level only for self-defense.”

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  6. Alastair Iain Johnston, “China’s New ‘Old Thinking’: The Concept of Limited Deterrence,” International Security 20, no. 3 (Winter 1995/96); Paul Godwin, “China’s Nuclear Forces: An Assessment,” Current History 98, no. 629 (September 1999); Bates Gill, James Mulvenon, and Mark Stokes, “The Chinese Second Artillery Corps: Transition to Credible Deterrence,” in The Peoples Liberation Army as an Organization: Reference Volume 1.0, ed., James C. Mulvenon and Andrew Yang (2001).

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  7. U.S. DOD, Nuclear Posture Review Report (Excerpts), submitted to Congress December 31, 2001. Downloaded September 5, 2005 from www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/policy/dod/npr.htm.

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© 2008 Christopher P. Twomey

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Yunzhu, Y. (2008). Chinese Nuclear Policy and the Future of Minimum Deterrence. In: Twomey, C.P. (eds) Perspectives on Sino-American Strategic Nuclear Issues. Initiatives in Strategic Studies: Issues and Policies. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230613164_8

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