Policy Memo on The Endurance and Persistence of China's Nuclear Weapons Doctrine

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Based on an analysis of Chinese leaders’ speeches, official statements, and defense white papers published by Chinese government, my paper identifies some key elements of China’s nuclear doctrine as follows: (1) nuclear weapons as a tool of anti-nuclear blackmail and anti-nuclear coercion; (2) no-first-use; (3) minimal forces without comprising credibility; (4) modernization and survivability; (5) disarmament and non-proliferation. While acknowledging some doubts on the reliability and continuity of China’s basic elements of its nuclear doctrine, the article argues that China’s declared nuclear doctrine has a remarkable endurance and persistence if we look into the three key factors that shape the Chinese nuclear doctrine: traditional strategic thinking; the contrast of nuclear forces posture between China and other nuclear-possessed countries; and the transformation of China’s strategic environment. A closer examination of these factors and their impacts on China’s nuclear doctrine would suggest the following major findings and policy implications.

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Policy Memo on The Endurance and Persistence of China's Nuclear Weapons Doctrine

Zhong Zhenming

School of Political Science and International Relations

Tongji University, China