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.
Policy Memo on The Endurance and Persistence of China's Nuclear Weapons Doctrine
School of Political Science and International Relations
Tongji University, China