Journal Article - Nonproliferation Review

China’s Nuclear Modernization: Assuring a Second-Strike Capability

| Feb. 11, 2018

Some experts are increasingly concerned that China’s modernization will lead to a Chinese nuclear “breakout”—a pursuit of a nuclear-warfighting capability or a “sprint to parity” with the United States. David Logan (“Hard Constraints on a Chinese Nuclear Breakout,” Vol. 24, Nos. 1–2, 2017, pp. 13–30) rightly suggests that such a nuclear breakout would be constrained not only by China’s “soft” nuclear policy but also by “hard” technical constraints. I would emphasize that it is the former that has been the first principle guiding China’s nuclear-force development. That some of the “hard” technical constrains have resulted from this “soft” guidance demonstrates China’s commitment to a small deterrent force. It is difficult to imagine that the future development of China’s nuclear force would eventually overthrow these first principles. In fact, there is no evidence that China will change its long-standing nuclear policy.

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For Academic Citation:

Hui Zhang, “China’s nuclear modernization: assuring a second-strike capability,” Correspondence, The Nonproliferation Review, 24:3-4, p.215-218, 2018,