Articles

28 Items

Chinese military vehicles in parade.

(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Dangerous Confidence? Chinese Views on Nuclear Escalation

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

China and the United States hold opposing beliefs about whether nuclear war can be avoided in a potential crisis or armed conflict. Taken together, these opposing beliefs increase the risk of nuclear escalation and can lead to greater crisis instability.

Would China Go Nuclear? Assessing the Risk of Chinese Nuclear Escalation in a Conventional War with the United States

AP/Andy Wong

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Would China Go Nuclear? Assessing the Risk of Chinese Nuclear Escalation in a Conventional War with the United States

Spring 2017

Would China escalate to nuclear use in a conventional war with the United States? If China believed that U.S. conventional attacks on missiles, submarines, air defenses, and command and control systems threatened the survivability of its nuclear forces or that the United States was preparing a counterforce attack, it might engage in limited nuclear escalation to gain military advantage or coerce the United States. The United States will face difficult trade-offs in deciding how best to manage the risk of nuclear escalation.

Soldiers stand on guard next to a Chinese navy nuclear submarine at the Qingdao base in east China's Shandong province on August 19, 2013.

Yin Haiyang/ AP

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Should the United States Reject MAD? Damage Limitation and U.S. Nuclear Strategy toward China

| Summer 2016

China's growing nuclear arsenal threatens to erode the United States' damage-limitation capability—its ability to destroy Chinese forces and thereby significantly reduce the damage that an all-out Chinese nuclear attack would inflict on the United States. Nevertheless, the United States should not attempt to preserve this capability. Doing so is technologically infeasible, would not add to the U.S. nuclear deterrent, would heighten tensions with China, and would increase the risk of nuclear escalation in a crisis.

Military vehicles carrying DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) march past the Tiananmen Rostrum during a military parade, September 3, 2015.

Wei Yao/ AP

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Assuring Assured Retaliation: China’s Nuclear Posture and U.S.-China Strategic Stability

    Authors:
  • Fiona Cunningham
  • M. Taylor Fravel
| Fall 2015

Many analysts worry that recent advances in U.S. military capabilities could cause China to abandon its nuclear strategy of assured retaliation and its no-first-use doctrine. The writings and statements of Chinese nuclear experts, however, suggest that such fears are misplaced.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a big screen in Beijing as Chinese battle tanks roll by during a Sept. 3, 2015 parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II.

(AP Photo)

Magazine Article - The Atlantic

The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?

| September 24, 2015

The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’s Trap. The Greek historian’s metaphor reminds us of the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power—as Athens challenged Sparta in ancient Greece, or as Germany did Britain a century ago. Most such contests have ended badly, often for both nations, a team of mine at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has concluded after analyzing the historical record. In 12 of 16 cases over the past 500 years, the result was war. When the parties avoided war, it required huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions on the part not just of the challenger but also the challenged.

Journal Article - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Plutonium Reprocessing, Breeder Reactors, and Decades of Debate: A Chinese Response

| July 1, 2015

Some observers believe that plutonium reprocessing is on the verge of an expansion, while others argue that the end of the practice is in sight. The risk of nuclear proliferation has always been the chief objection to reprocessing but proponents argue that today, with uranium enrichment technology more easily available, reprocessing no longer represents an efficient route toward nuclear weapons...

Journal Article - Arms Control Today

How to Strengthen Nuclear Security in China

| March, 2015

"China is a nuclear-weapon state and rising power entering an era of particularly rapid nuclear energy growth and fuel-cycle development. China’s approach to strengthening the security of its nuclear weapons, materials, and facilities is important because of the quantity of materials involved and the role that China plays in facilitating strong global action on nuclear security..."