Pop-up English-Chinese

The logic and evolution of China’s nuclear policy

FAN Jishe1

(1.Institute of American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing 100720)

【Abstract】China has adopted a policy that is significantly different from that of other nuclear powers in terms of the development, deployment, and use of nuclear force, the internal logic of which also differs from that of other nuclear-weapon states. Since China acquired nuclear capability, the external security environment faced by China has undergone a great number of vital changes and China’s own economic and technologic capabilities have also made substantial progress; however, the changes in internal and external environment have not exerted any significant effects on China’s nuclear policy. China’s nuclear policy which is stable on the whole has experienced some subtle and slow adjustments. For example, China has gradually increased the transparency of its nuclear policy and made some limited efforts in improving the survivability of small-scale nuclear force in order to ensure the credibility and reliability of its nuclear deterrence capability. China’s knowledge of nuclear weapons and the experience and lessons learned from the US-Soviet nuclear arms race during the Cold War have influenced China’s nuclear policy. If the international situation and external environment do not significantly change and China still has confidence in the credibility of its nuclear deterrence, China will maintain its current asymmetrical nuclear deterrence capability.

【Keywords】 China; nuclear policy; nuclear deterrence; mutual vulnerability; arms race; strategic stability;

【DOI】

Download this article

    Footnote

    [1]. ① The White House, National Security Strategy of the United States, December 2017, p. 25, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf [^Back]

    [2]. ② Department of Defense, Nuclear Posture Review, February 2018, pp. 31–32, https://dod.defense.gov/News/SpecialReports/2018NuclearPostureReview [^Back]

    [3]. ① http://www.xinhuanet.com/world/2015-09/23/c_1116656143.htm [^Back]

    [4]. People’s Daily (Extra Edition) (人民日报:号外), (1964-10-16). [^Back]

    [5]. ③ “Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”, United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, https://www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/nuclear/npt/text [^Back]

    [6]. People’s Daily (Extra Edition) (人民日报:号外), (1964-10-16). [^Back]

    [7]. ② Negative security assurance is a guarantee by a nuclear-weapon state that it will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones under any circumstance or in a certain condition. Refer to Liu, H. (ed.) Arms Control and Disarmament Handbook (军备控制与裁军手册). Beijing: National Defense Industry Press, 395–396 (2000). [^Back]

    [8]. ③ http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/wjb_673085/zzjg_673183/jks_674633/ty_674661/t228262.shtml [^Back]

    [9]. ④ “United Nations Security Council Resolution 984 (1995)”, United Nations, Security Council, April 11, 1995, http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/984(1995) [^Back]

    [10]. ⑤ For example, the US made a similar policy announcement in the Nuclear Posture Review Report issued in April of 2010 but added many conditions to the same policy announcement in the Nuclear Posture Review issued in 2018. Refer to Department of Defense, Nuclear Posture Review, April 2010, p. viii; Department of Defense, Nuclear Posture Review, February 2018, p. 21. [^Back]

    [11]. People’s Daily (Extra Edition) (人民日报:号外), (1964-10-16). [^Back]

    [12]. ② President Barack Obama, “Remarks by President Barack Obama in Prague as Delivered”, Prague, April 5, 2009, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-barack-obama-prague-delivered [^Back]

    [13]. ③ Liu, H. (ed.) Arms Control and Disarmament Handbook (军备控制与裁军手册). Beijing: National Defense Industry Press, 205–207 (2000). [^Back]

    [14]. People’s Daily (人民日报), (1) (1996-7-30). [^Back]

    [15]. ① Hans M.Kristensen and Robert S.Norris, “Nuclear Notebook: Nuclear Arsenals of the World”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, https://thebulletin.org/nuclear-notebook-multimedia [^Back]

    [16]. ② Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI Yearbook 2018: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 235–302. [^Back]

    [17]. ③ Ibid. [^Back]

    [18]. ① Department of Defense, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2018, August 2018, p. 29. [^Back]

    [19]. ② Mao, Z. Selected Works of Mao Zedong (毛泽东选集) (Ⅳ). Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1194–1195 (1991). [^Back]

    [20]. ③ Please refer to Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and the Party Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee (eds.) Mao Zedong on Diplomacy (毛泽东外交文选). Beijing: Central Literature Publishing House and World Affairs Press, (1994). [^Back]

    [21]. ① Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and the Party Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee (eds.) Mao Zedong on Diplomacy (毛泽东外交文选). 170 (1994). [^Back]

    [22]. ② Ibid., 170–171. [^Back]

    [23]. ① Jampel, G. 李觉传. Beijing: China Tibetology Publishing House, 221, 437 (2004). [^Back]

    [24]. ② The Party Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee (ed.) 周恩来年谱: 1949–1976 (II). Beijing: Central Literature Publishing House, 676 (1997). [^Back]

    [25]. ③ Please refer to the Editorial Board of the book. 聂荣臻传. Beijing: Contemporary China Publishing House, 336–370 (2006). [^Back]

    [26]. ① Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and the Party Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee (eds.) Mao Zedong on Diplomacy (毛泽东外交文选). Beijing: Central Literature Publishing House and World Affairs Press, 476, 540 (1994). [^Back]

    [27]. ② The Party Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee (ed.) 周恩来年谱: 1949–1976 (Ⅲ). Beijing: Central Literature Publishing House, 279–280, 403 (1997). [^Back]

    [28]. ③ Nie, R. 聂荣臻回忆录. Beijing: Chinese People’s Liberation Army Publishing House, 814 (1986). [^Back]

    [29]. ④ Please refer to Li, B. & Hu, G. Foreign Affairs Review (外交评论), (5): 21–41 (2018). [^Back]

    [30]. ⑤ Editorial Board of the book. 当代中国的国防科技事业:缩编本. Beijing: Contemporary China Publishing House, 91 (1995). [^Back]

    [31]. ① Zhang, A. (ed.) 中国人民解放军 (II). Beijing: Contemporary China Publishing House, 113–115 (1994). [^Back]

    [32]. ② For example, Philipp C. Bleek, “China’s Nuclear Posture at the Crossroads: Credible Minimum Versus Limited Deterrence and Implications for Engagement”, Kennedy School Review, Vol. 5, 2004; Thomas J. Christensen, “The Meaning of the Nuclear Evolution: China’s Strategic Modernization and US-China Security Relations”, Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 35, No. 4, August 2012; Michael S. Chase, “China’s Transition to a More Credible Nuclear Deterrent: Implications and Challenges for the United States”, Asia Policy, No. 16, July, 2013. [^Back]

    [33]. ① http://www.scio.gov.cn/ztk/dtzt/2013/03/4/Document/1312894/1312894.htm [^Back]

    [34]. ① James M. Acton, “Is China Changing Its Position on Nuclear Weapons?” The New York Times, April 18, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/19/opinion/is-china-changing-its-position-on-nuclear-weapons.html; Rachel Dennis J. Blasko, “The 2013 Defense White Paper in Perspective”, China Brief, Vol. 13, Issue 9, April 25, 2013. [^Back]

    [35]. ② After Acton’s comments were issued on The New York Times, M. Taylor Fravel, a China expert from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Gregory Kulacki, a China expert from the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote an article to discuss with Acton. Taylor Fravel and Gregory Kulacki suggested that China did not change its policy of no first use of nuclear weapons and later Acton responded to some of the discussion content by an article. Rachel Oswald, “China’s New Defense Paper Causes Stir Over No-First-Use Nuke Policy”, Global Security Newswire, April 24, 2013, http:// www.nti.org/gsn/article/china-new-defense-white-paper-causes-stir-over-questions-no-first-use-policy; James Acton, “Debating China’s No-First-Use Commitment: James Acton Responds”, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 22, 2013, https://carnegieeendowmen. org/2013/04/22/debating-china-s-no-first-use-commitment-james-acton-responds-pub-51583 [^Back]

    [36]. ③ Philip A. Karber, “Strategic Implications of China’s Underground Great Wall”, September 26, 2011, http://www.fas.org/nuke/huide/china/Karber_UndergroundFacilities-Full_2011_reduced.pdf [^Back]

    [37]. ① Hans M. Kristensen, “No, China Does Not Have 3,000 Nuclear Weapons”, Federation of American Scientists, December 3, 2011, https://fas.org/blogs/security/2011/12/chinanukes/ [^Back]

    [38]. ② Anatoly Karlin, “China’s True Nuclear Power”, June 28, 2012, http://akarlin.com/2012/06/chinas-true-nuclear-power/ [^Back]

    [39]. ③ Zhang, A. (ed.) 中国人民解放军 (II). Beijing: Contemporary China Publishing House, 113–115 (1994). [^Back]

    [40]. ① http://www.scio.gov.cn/zfbps/ndhf/1995/Document/307994/307994.htm [^Back]

    [41]. ② http://www.scio.gov.cn/zfbps/ndhf/2006/Document/307878/307878_1.htm [^Back]

    [42]. ③ http://www.scio.gov.cn/ztk/dtzt/2013/03/4/Document/1312894/1312894.htm [^Back]

    [43]. ④ http://www.scio.gov.cn/zfbps/ndhf/2015/Document/1435161/1435161.htm [^Back]

    [44]. ① Fan Jishe, “China's Military Parade: Get the Message Right”, September 11, 2015, http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2015-09/11/content_36559721.htm [^Back]

    [45]. ② M. Taylor Fravel and Evan S. Medeiros, “China’s Search for Assured Retaliation: The Evolution of Chinese Nuclear Strategy and Force Structure”, International Security, Vol. 35, No. 2, Fall 2010; Thomas J. Christensen, “The Meaning of the Nuclear Evolution: China’s Strategic Modernization and US-China Security Relations”; Michael S. Chase, “China’s Transition to a More Credible Nuclear Deterrent: Implications and Challenges for the United States”; Fiona S. Cunningham and M. Taylor Fravel, “Assuring Assured Retaliation: China’s Nuclear Posture and US-China Strategic Stability”, International Security, Vol. 40, No. 2, Fall 2015. [^Back]

    [46]. ③ Department of Defense, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2018, pp. 29, 33–34. [^Back]

    [47]. ① Department of Defense, Nuclear Posture Review, February 2018. [^Back]

    [48]. ① Fan, J. The Journal of International Studies (国际政治研究), (2): 78–81 (2010). [^Back]

This Article

ISSN:1003-3386

CN: 11-5370/D

Vol 35, No. 05, Pages 1-20

September 2018

Downloads:2

Share
Article Outline

Knowledge

Abstract

  • 1 Uniqueness of China’s nuclear policy
  • 2 Basic logic of China’s nuclear policy
  • 3 Continuity and slight adjustments in China’s nuclear policy
  • 4 Evolution of China’s nuclear policy
  • Footnote