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The effectiveness of China’s nuclear deterrence from the U.S. perspective

LI Bin1 HU Gaochen

(1.Department of International Relations, School of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University. , Beijing 100084)

【Abstract】China’s policy of nuclear force originated from its particular nuclear philosophy, based on which China has developed a very limited nuclear force. To investigate the effectiveness of China’s nuclear deterrence, it is necessary to observe the responses of its nuclear adversaries. Among the disputes about China-U.S. strategic stability relations that have continued until today in the U.S. strategic circle, the core dispute lies in how to evaluate the effectiveness of China’s nuclear deterrent capability. One school holds that China’s possession of nuclear retaliatory capability is a fact, whereas another school opposes China-US strategic stability relations, suggesting applying the strategy of damage limitation on China. From the debating process of the U.S. strategic circle, it can be seen that the overall view of the U.S. is that China has a certain nuclear retaliatory capability, albeit not significant. To stabilize China-U.S. strategic relations and avoid the U.S. opportunism, it is necessary for China to improve the effectiveness of its own strategic deterrent capability.

【Keywords】 China’s nuclear policy; nuclear deterrent effectiveness; damage limitation; strategic stability; China-U.S. relations ;


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This Article


CN: 11-5370/D

Vol 35, No. 05, Pages 21-41

September 2018


Article Outline


  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Methods to judge the effectiveness of China’s nuclear deterrence
  • 3 U.S. scholars oppose China’s nuclear retaliatory capability from the policy perspective
  • 4 U.S. scholars object China’s nuclear retaliatory capability from the technical perspective
  • 5 Conclusion and discussion
  • Footnote