Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Dangerous Confidence? Chinese Views on Nuclear Escalation

  • Fiona S. Cunningham
  • M. Taylor Fravel
| Fall 2019


Given the potential for nuclear escalation in a crisis or armed conflict between the United States and China, understanding the views of China’s strategic community toward nuclear escalation is critical for both scholars and policymakers. China’s strategic community is confident that nuclear war can be avoided in a conventional conflict, but should deterrence fail, this same community believes that the ensuing nuclear conflict would be uncontrollable. U.S. decisionmakers, however, are more certain that nuclear conflict can be controlled and that limited nuclear war can be a tool of coercion. Taken together, these opposing beliefs increase the risk of nuclear escalation and can lead to greater crisis instability.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Fiona S. Cunningham and M. Taylor Fravel, “Dangerous Confidence? Chinese Views on Nuclear Escalation,” International Security, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Fall 2019),  pp. 61109,

The Authors