Sunday 25 November 2007

China's Attitude Toward Nuclear Deterrence

China's official position on nuclear deterrence, and nuclear weapons generally, is that it stands for total nuclear disarmament and the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons. China has often criticized the policy of nuclear deterrence based on the implicit or explicit threat to use nuclear weapons first. China has been particularly critical of the policy of extended nuclear deterrence, or so-called "nuclear umbrellas," provided by the other nuclear weapon states (particularly the United States) to their allies. China is also officially opposed to the deployment of nuclear weapons outside national territories, and has stated that China has never deployed nuclear weapons on the territory of another country. China has also been especially critical of using nuclear deterrence against non-nuclear weapon states, and has repeatedly called on the nuclear weapon states to agree to a legally-binding, multilateral agreement under which they would pledge not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states (negative security assurances). Despite Beijing's affirmations of its no-first-use policy, many foreign analysts question the credibility of China's nuclear doctrine.
Chinese statements regarding nuclear deterrence:
At a briefing on missile defense, Ambassador Sha Zukang stated:

"We are against NMD, not because we intend to threaten the security of the U.S. with our nuclear weapons. We just hope that the existing mutual deterrence between the two countries can be preserved. As is known to all, Chinese nuclear arsenal is the smallest and least advanced among the five nuclear powers. Yet, China is the first to pursue the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons. Of course, China will not allow its legitimate means of self-defense to be weakened or even taken away by anyone in anyway. This is one of the most important aspects of China's national security."For the first time since 1995, the China's National Defense White Paper stated that Chinese nuclear forces are intended for deterrence. Unlike the 1998 White Paper, the 2000 White Paper did not make reference to the deterrence policies in other countries.
China maintains a small but effective nuclear counterattacking force in order to deter possible nuclear attacks by other countries.

In july China issued a White Paper called China's National Defense. It stated:
China has consistently advocated the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons. At the 51st Session of the UN General Assembly in 1996 China clearly put forward a five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament: 1. The major nuclear powers should abandon the nuclear deterrence policy, and the states having the largest nuclear arsenals should continue to drastically reduce their nuclear weapons stockpiles; 2. All nuclear-weapon states should commit themselves not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and in any circumstances, undertake unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones, and conclude a legally binding international document as soon as possible; 3. all states which have deployed nuclear weapons outside their borders should withdraw all these weapons home, and all nuclear-weapon states should pledge to support the proposal on establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, respect the status of such zones and undertake corresponding obligations; 4. no state should develop or deploy outer space weapons or missile defense systems, which harm strategic security and stability; 5. all states should negotiate and conclude an international convention on the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons."
"China has always opposed the policy of nuclear deterrence and has long committed itself not to be the first to use nuclear weapons, or to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against nuclear-free countries and regions . . . [China has] invariably urged nuclear states to conclude a peace agreement on the mutual commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons." ["China Manufactures Nuclear Weapons for Self-Defense - Embassy."
Ambassador Sha Zukang stated:
Though the Cold War has already come to an end, some countries are still adhering to the policy of nuclear deterrence based on the first use of nuclear weapons the nuclear-weapon states concerned should abandon their policy of nuclear deterrence .
Foreign Minister Qian Qichen stated:

"The major nuclear powers should renounce their policy of nuclear deterrence".
The official Chinese newspaper People's Daily stated that "Some nuclear powers stubbornly uphold policies of nuclear deterrence based on first use of nuclear weapons."
After its 45th nuclear test, China stated that "Major nuclear weapon states should abandon their policy of nuclear deterrence".
Chinese Disarmament Ambassador Sha Zukang stated:
"In the post-cold war era of today, it is obviously anachronistic to continue with the policy of nuclear deterrence based on the first-use of nuclear weapons and thus subjecting other countries to nuclear threat."
Foreign Minister Qian Qichen stated:China does not endorse the policy of nuclear deterrence and the nuclear weapons developed by China are solely for self-defense, never meant to pose against or threaten any specific country.The Chinese Foreign Ministry issue a statement calling for the "other nuclear-weapon States to give up their policy of nuclear deterrence and commit themselves explicitly to the complete prohibition and total destruction of nuclear weapons."
A Future Shift in China's Deterrence Strategy?

Although official Chinese policy has not changed, many China analysts are beginning to question chinas long-term commitment to its policies of no-first-use and minimum deterrence. Pointing to alleged incongruities between Chinese nuclear modernization and its traditional policies, scholars have conducted interviews with Chinese officials to learn more about the debate within the government and the prospects for a future change in official Chinese policy. According to some foreign analysts, American military superiority, ballistic missile defense systems, instability on Chinas borders, and a desire to increase the credibility of its deterrent have all prompted China to this reevaluate its current policy.
Alistair Iain Johnston explores the three theories Western scholars have used to explain how China views its nuclear weapons. First, scholars often argue that China maintains a nuclear doctrine of minimum deterrence and aspires only to possess the capabilities necessary to maintain a credible deterrence. Second, some analysts argue that many Chinese officials have never genuinely accepted minimum deterrence, but instead lean toward some form of limited war-fighting or flexible response. Third, other scholars point to the effect of Chinese culture on its strategic policy, particularly its minimalism, ambiguity, flexibility, and patience, and the resulting Chinas nuclear policies.
China's Attitude Toward Nuclear Deterrence

China's official position on nuclear deterrence, and nuclear weapons generally, is that it stands for total nuclear disarmament and the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons. China has often criticized the policy of nuclear deterrence based on the implicit or explicit threat to use nuclear weapons first. China has been particularly critical of the policy of extended nuclear deterrence, or so-called "nuclear umbrellas," provided by the other nuclear weapon states (particularly the United States) to their allies. China is also officially opposed to the deployment of nuclear weapons outside national territories, and has stated that China has never deployed nuclear weapons on the territory of another country. China has also been especially critical of using nuclear deterrence against non-nuclear weapon states, and has repeatedly called on the nuclear weapon states to agree to a legally-binding, multilateral agreement under which they would pledge not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states (negative security assurances). Despite Beijing's affirmations of its no-first-use policy, many foreign analysts question the credibility of China's nuclear doctrine.

Chinese statements regarding nuclear deterrence:

March 2001: At a briefing on missile defense, Ambassador Sha Zukang stated:

"We are against NMD, not because we intend to threaten the security of the U.S. with our nuclear weapons. We just hope that the existing mutual deterrence between the two countries can be preserved. As is known to all, China’s nuclear arsenal is the smallest and least advanced among the five nuclear powers. Yet, China is the first to pursue the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons. Of course, China will not allow its legitimate means of self-defense to be weakened or even taken away by anyone in anyway. This is one of the most important aspects of China's national security."

For the first time since 1995, the China's National Defense White Paper stated that Chinese nuclear forces are intended for deterrence. Unlike the 1998 White Paper, the 2000 White Paper did not make reference to the deterrence policies in other countries:China maintains a small but effective nuclear counterattacking force in order to deter possible nuclear attacks by other countries
China issued a White Paper called China's National Defense. It stated:

China has consistently advocated the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons. At the 51st Session of the UN General Assembly in 1996 China clearly put forward a five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament: 1. The major nuclear powers should abandon the nuclear deterrence policy, and the states having the largest nuclear arsenals should continue to drastically reduce their nuclear weapons stockpiles; 2. All nuclear-weapon states should commit themselves not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and in any circumstances, undertake unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones, and conclude a legally binding international document as soon as possible; 3. all states which have deployed nuclear weapons outside their borders should withdraw all these weapons home, and all nuclear-weapon states should pledge to support the proposal on establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, respect the status of such zones and undertake corresponding obligations; 4. no state should develop or deploy outer space weapons or missile defense systems, which harm strategic security and stability; 5. all states should negotiate and conclude an international convention on the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons."
The Press Service of the Chinese Embassy in Moscow stated:

"China has always opposed the policy of nuclear deterrence and has long committed itself not to be the first to use nuclear weapons, or to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against nuclear-free countries and regions . . . [China has] invariably urged nuclear states to conclude a peace agreement on the mutual commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons." ["China Manufactures Nuclear Weapons for Self-Defense - Embassy,"
Ambassador Sha Zukang stated:
Though the Cold War has already come to an end, some countries are still adhering to the policy of nuclear deterrence based on the first use of nuclear weapons…the nuclear-weapon states concerned should abandon their policy of nuclear deterrence”. [Statement by H.E. Mr. Sha Zukang, Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs and Head of Delegation of the People's Republic of China at the First Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Foreign Minister Qian Qichen stated:The major nuclear powers should renounce their policy of nuclear deterrence". [Statement by Qian Qichen at the 51st Session of the United Nations General Assembly.]
The official Chinese newspaper People's Daily stated that "Some nuclear powers stubbornly uphold policies of nuclear deterrence based on first use of nuclear weapons." ["Nuclear Pact Will Be A Step To Disarmament--China,]After its 45th nuclear test, China stated that "Major nuclear weapon states should abandon their policy of nuclear deterrence".
Chinese Disarmament Ambassador Sha Zukang stated:
"In the post-cold war era of today, it is obviously anachronistic to continue with the policy of nuclear deterrence based on the first-use of nuclear weapons and thus subjecting other countries to nuclear threat."
Foreign Minister Qian Qichen stated:China does not endorse the policy of nuclear deterrence and the nuclear weapons developed by China are solely for self-defense, never meant to pose against or threaten any specific country.” [Statement By H.E. Qian Qichen, Vice Premier And Foreign Minister And Head Of Delegation Of The People's Republic Of China At The 1995 Review And Extension Conference Of The Parties To The Treaty On The Non-Proliferation Of Nuclear Weapons.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry issue a statement calling for the "other nuclear-weapon States to give up their policy of nuclear deterrence and commit themselves explicitly to the complete prohibition and total destruction of nuclear weapons."
A Future Shift in China's Deterrence Strategy?

Although official Chinese policy has not changed, many China analysts are beginning to question chinas long-term commitment to its policies of no-first-use and minimum deterrence. Pointing to alleged incongruities between Chinese nuclear modernization and its traditional policies, scholars have conducted interviews with Chinese officials to learn more about the debate within the government and the prospects for a future change in official Chinese policy. According to some foreign analysts, American military superiority, ballistic missile defense systems, instability on Chinas borders, and a desire to increase the credibility of its deterrent have all prompted China to this reevaluate its current policy.

Alistair Iain Johnston explores the three theories Western scholars have used to explain how China views its nuclear weapons. First, scholars often argue that China maintains a nuclear doctrine of minimum deterrence and aspires only to possess the capabilities necessary to maintain a credible deterrence. Second, some analysts argue that many Chinese officials have never genuinely accepted minimum deterrence, but instead lean toward some form of limited war-fighting or flexible response. Third, other scholars point to the effect of Chinese culture on its strategic policy, particularly its minimalism, ambiguity, flexibility, and patience, and the resulting Chinas nuclear policies. Johnston argues that China's nuclear modernization program may be geared toward developing the capacity to move from a minimum deterrence to a limited deterrence nuclear strategy, and notes that Chinese strategists are increasingly willing to distinguish between the two approaches. "Limited deterrence" entails the capability to deter conventional, theater, and strategic nuclear war, and to control escalation in the event of a nuclear confrontation. Under a "limited deterrence" doctrine, China would need to target nuclear forces in addition to cities, which would require expanded deployments. However, such a limited deterrence capability may still be a long way off. According to Johnston, "It is fairly safe to say that Chinese capabilities come nowhere near the level required by the concept of limited deterrence." He further explains that, according to his research, number of Chinese strategists now explicitly reject minimum deterrence as a viable option for China as the doctrine reduces Chinas deterrence, increases the countrys vulnerability to attack, and offers no means to control an arms race.
Bates Gill, James Mulvenon, and Mark Stokes agree, noting that, Over the past decade, certain indicators suggest that these long-held aspects of Chinese nuclear weapons doctrine may be undergoing some reconsideration. They suggest that, behind the scenes, Chinese officials are currently engaged in a serious debate regarding the future of Chinas military. The authors suggest that some Chinese military planners advocate a shift to limited deterrence, including introduction of limited war-fighting capabilities, improved command and control and early warning systems, smaller, survivable, mobile, more accurate and diverse cruise and ballistic missile nuclear delivery systems, possible abandonment of the NFU policy, missile defenses, and the addition of counterforce targets. Paul Godwin adds, Minimum deterrence, which uses a single countervalue punitive strike on cities to deter, is seen by many Chinese strategists as passive and incompatible with what they see as a future requirement for more flexible nuclear responses.
Gill, Mulvenon, and Stokes also consider the domestic political situation surrounding Chinas strategic policy and discuss its potential effect on a future change in Chinese policy:
¦From a strictly doctrinal perspective, it is likely that such a shift must await shifts in the domestic political hierarchy and its view of the outside world, factors which have consistently driven Chinese doctrinal choices. Moreover¦ technical constraints will remain one of the foremost drivers determining the direction of doctrine in the near-term. Rather than force a stark analytical choice between either a doctrine of minimal deterrence or one of limited deterrence, it makes more sense to draw out two important nuances to better understand this debate. First is to recognize the differences between operational doctrine and what we might call aspirational doctrine in the Chinese context. Second is to recognize that the Second Artillery “ which oversees strategic nuclear, theater nuclear, and conventional missiles more likely operates on three levels of doctrine: credible minimal deterrence with regard to the continental United States and Russia; limited deterrence with regard to Chinas theater nuclear forces; and an offensively-configured, preemptive, counterforce warfighting posture of active defense or offensive defense for the Second Artillerys conventional missile forces.

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