2 Events

The newly developed DF-26 medium-range ballistic missile as seen after the military parade held in Beijing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, 3 September 2015.

Wikimedia CC/IceUnshattered

Seminar - Open to the Public

Sino-U.S. Inadvertent Nuclear Escalation

Thu., Mar. 14, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: WU Riqiang, Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom

It is generally believed that in peacetime current Sino-U.S. nuclear relations are stable and deliberate nuclear exchanges between these two countries are unimaginable. However, conventional conflict might escalate to nuclear level, even if both sides wish to avoid it at the beginning of the war. This seminar will provide a causal mechanism of Sino-U.S. inadvertent escalation. Three driving factors are identified: the vulnerability of Chinese nuclear forces, the not-by-design co-mingling of China's conventional and nuclear weapons, and the fog of war. The security dilemma will worsen the situation and increase the escalatory risk. The mechanism is then tested via two hypothetical scenarios: a missile campaign and submarine warfare. In order to reduce the risk of inadvertent escalation, the United States should build confidence with China by declaring mutual vulnerability vis-à-vis China and constraining its strategic capabilities. China could also demarcate its nuclear and conventional missiles and clarify its no-first-use policy that conventional attacks on nuclear weapons would be regarded as nuclear attacks.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Military vehicles carry DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missiles during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Sept. 3, 2015.

Voice of America/Wikimedia Commons

Seminar - Open to the Public

Merits of Uncertainty: The Evolution and Future of China’s Nuclear Retaliatory Capability

Wed., Sep. 12, 2018 | 10:00am - 11:30am

Littauer Building - Fainsod Room, 324

Speaker: Wu Riqiang, Research Fellow with the International Security Program and Project on Managing the Atom
A simplified nuclear exchange model will be developed to evaluate China’s past and current nuclear retaliatory capability against the Soviet Union and the United States. The modeling suggests that according to Western standards, China’s nuclear retaliation has been and remains far from “assured.” This result reflects China’s special nuclear philosophy, which emphasizes the role of nuclear taboo and prioritizes political control over survivability. However, in the face of U.S. advances in the areas of counterforce and missile defense, China probably has to continue to improve its nuclear forces qualitatively and, if necessary, quantitatively, in order to maintain its deterrent level.