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Nuclear Strategy in the Modern EraRegional Powers and International Conflict$
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Vipin Narang

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691159829

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691159829.001.0001

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(p.121) Chapter Five China
Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era

Vipin Narang

Princeton University Press

This chapter relies on the best available English language sources to detail Chinese nuclear posture over time. China, like India, has persistently adopted an assured retaliation posture against its potential adversaries. Though Chinese strategists have long debated the merits of shifting from what they term a “minimum deterrence” doctrine to a more aggressive “limited deterrence” doctrine that fields theater nuclear capabilities for possible first use, there has in fact been remarkable continuity in China's nuclear posture. China's posture enables its nuclear weapons to survive a first strike and effectively retaliate with nuclear weapons. As in India, China faces no existential land threats and also displays highly assertive civil–military relations, or more accurately, party–military relationship that privileges tight centralized control over China's nuclear assets. These variables have thus pushed China toward an assured retaliation nuclear posture.

Keywords:   China, assured retaliation, civil–military relations, party–military relations, minimum deterrence, limited deterrence

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