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2018 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

6. Chinese Evolving Approaches to Nuclear ‘War-Fighting’: An Emerging Security Dilemma?

Abstract

This chapter explores a relatively under-researched discourse that relates to recent indications that Chinese leaders are considering the deployment of nuclear weapons for war-fighting (or ‘victory-denial’) purposes. It argues that the continued lip service paid to passive and static conceptualizations of Chinese thinking on nuclear and conventional deterrence is no longer appropriate. Recent evidence indicates that these postures are far more integrated, flexible, and dynamic than Beijing’s official rhetoric has suggested; over the past decade, a de facto shift toward a limited nuclear war-fighting posture has already taken place, which has prompted a closer alignment of China’s nuclear force posture with its more offensively configured conventional stance. Specifically, as many of the barriers impeding a limited nuclear war-fighting doctrine are removed, the long-standing doctrine–capabilities gap between China’s nuclear capabilities and the aspirations of many Chinese strategists will likely be reconciled. Moreover, this chapter also posits that the ambiguities and opacity associated with Chinese nuclear policies and doctrines reinforced Washington’s reliance upon worst-case scenario capacity-based defense planning to infer Beijing’s (malign) intentions. Finally, it reflects on the implications of an intense security dilemma in the nuclear domain for United States–China strategic stability, United States’ extended deterrence commitments, and the nuclear balance in the Asia-Pacific.

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Footnotes
1
China’s nuclear deterrence posture has for decades been grounded by minimal deterrence; de-mated and de-alerted nuclear warheads; and a no-first-use (NFU) policy. In contrast, China’s conventional deterrence posture is predicated on war-fighting, preemption, asymmetry; and the accumulation of offensive-dominant capabilities. Yao, Y. (2010). China’s perspective on nuclear deterrence. Air and Space Power Journal, 24(1), 27–30; Li, B., & Zhao, T. (Eds.). (2016). Understanding Chinese nuclear thinking. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. For Western-centric studies that have emphasized continuity and restraint in China’s nuclear posture, see Fravel, T.M., & Medeiros, E. (2010). China’s search for assured retaliation: The evolution of Chinese nuclear strategy and force structure. International Security, 35(2), 48–87. Lewis, J. (2013). China’s nuclear modernization: Surprise, restraint, and uncertainty. In A. Tellis, & T. Tanner (Eds.), Strategic Asia 2012–13: China’s military challenge (pp. 67–96). Washington, DC: The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR).
 
2
More recently, external analysts have begun to argue that China is no longer satisfied with a minimum deterrence posture—especially because of U.S. military policies in Asia. Several analysts have also discussed the implications of a shift in China’s nuclear policies and strategic thinking. See Delpech, T. (2012). Nuclear deterrence in the 21st century. Washington, DC: RAND Corporation, 128–129; Cimbala, S.J. (2015). Chinese military modernization: Implications for strategic nuclear arms control. Strategic Studies Quarterly, (Summer), 11–19; Haynes, S.T. (2016). Chinese nuclear proliferation: How global politics is transforming China’s weapons build-up and transformation. Lincoln, NE: Potomac Books.
 
3
From the 1980s, Chinese strategists began to distinguish between a ‘minimum deterrence’ and a ‘limited deterrence’ nuclear posture. ‘Minimum deterrence’ requires only a small amount of nuclear warheads for use in ‘counter-value’ (i.e. targeting of an adversary’s cities and civilian populations) second strikes, necessary to deter an adversary from attacking—and is underwritten by an NFU policy. ‘Limited deterrence’ requires possessing enough capabilities to deter conventional, theater, and nuclear wars, and to control military escalation during a nuclear war—or escalation to de-escalate. This posture would require tactical (or theater) nuclear weapons to target ‘counterforce’ targets (i.e. targeting of an opponent’s military forces and facilities), as well as other ‘war-fighting’ capabilities (e.g. missile defenses; antisatellite missiles; and space-based early-warning systems) to inflict sufficient damage on an enemy’s military capabilities to deny them victory, and to perform (including preemptive) first-strike missions. A ‘limited deterrence’ posture shares similarities with Russia’s post–Cold War nuclear doctrine. In 1993 Russia dropped its own NFU pledge; its revised doctrine reserves the right to authorize ‘limited’ nuclear retaliation in response to ‘large-scale conventional aggression’. For this purpose, Russia conceptualizes limited tactical nuclear strikes to ‘de-escalate’ a conventional attack. Similarly, since 1995 the United States has retained the right to use ‘limited’ nuclear war (and tactical weapons) as part of a policy of deterrence aimed at states possessing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), notably Iran and North Korea. Zhang, B. (2015). China’s assertive nuclear posture: State security in an anarchic international order. New York, NY: Routledge, 17–18; Colby, E. (2016). Russia’s evolving nuclear doctrine and its implications. (No. 1). Washington, DC: Center for a New American Security.
 
4
‘War-fighting’ in the context of nuclear weapons has often been misinterpreted as meaning ‘damage limitation’ or pursuit of a disarming first-strike capability. For this discussion, the author defines the purpose of a ‘war-fighting’ doctrine as victory denial; military escalation control; and coercing an end to a conflict on acceptable terms—including the use of tactical theater weapons in preemptive tactics to achieve ‘limited deterrence’ objectives. During the Cold War era the lines between the nuclear and conventional domains was less ambiguous, owing to the indiscriminate nature of nuclear weapons between the United States and the Soviet Union.
 
5
Schelling, T.C. (1960). The strategy of conflict. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University, Chap. 8. From current open-source literature, the precise nature of the commingling of the Chinese conventional and nuclear forces is difficult to ascertain.
 
6
The U.S. DoD described ‘informatized’ conditions as a PLA concept characterized by a ‘system of systems operations [focus that] requires enhancing systems and weapons with information capabilities and linking geographically dispersed forces and capabilities into an integrated system capable of unified action’. Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense. (2014). Quadrennial defense review report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 9.
 
7
Jervis, R. (1978). Cooperation under the security dilemma. World Politics, 30(2), 167–214.
 
8
There is no universally agreed definition on what constitutes a ‘tactical’ (or nonstrategic) nuclear weapon. This chapter applies a broad definition of ‘tactical theater’ weapons defined as weapons with shorter-range (and often portable) delivery systems; with lower yield warheads (compared to ‘strategic warheads’); and usually used by troops or facilities on the battlefield for counterforce targeting, for example short-range missiles, gravity bombs, land mines, torpedoes, as well as MRBMs and IRBMs equipped with nuclear warheads. In the context of nuclear deterrence, ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons generally implies a ‘war-fighting’ doctrine, which goes beyond the threat of punishment that underpins a ‘minimum deterrence’ posture. Woolf, A.F. (2016). Nonstrategic nuclear weapons. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.
 
9
See Mearsheimer, J.J. (2001). The tragedy of great power politics. New York; London: Norton; Zhang, B. (2015). China’s assertive nuclear posture: State security in an anarchic international order. New York, NY: Routledge; Haynes, S.T. (2016). Chinese nuclear proliferation: How global politics is transforming China’s weapons build-up and transformation. Lincoln, NE: Potomac Books.
 
10
Christensen, T.J. (2002). The contemporary security dilemma: Deterring a Taiwan conflict. The Washington Quarterly, 25(4), 7–21. Johnston, A.I. (2003). Is China a status quo power? International Security, 27(4), 5–56; Goldstein, A. (2005). Rising to the challenge: China’s grand strategy and international security. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
 
11
Acton, J.M. (2013). Silver bullet? Asking the right questions about conventional prompt global strike. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 121–123.
 
12
This paper refers to the U.S. ‘defense community’ to include analysts at the U.S. DoD, as well as U.S. defense-related think tanks and military and defense experts and scholars.
 
13
Most Chinese scholars believe that transparency about intentions is more important than transparency about capabilities. See Wu, R. (2016). How China practices and thinks about nuclear transparency. In B. Li, & Z. Tong (Eds.), Understanding Chinese nuclear thinking (pp. 219–251). Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
 
14
Cunningham, F.S., & Fravel, M.T. (2015). Assuring assured retaliation: China’s nuclear posture and U.S.-China strategic stability. 40(2), 7–50.
 
15
All translations of titles and other Chinese quotations in this case study, unless otherwise stated, are the authors’. The chapter has made extensive use of the Chinese-language academic journal database (CNKI); for much of the open-source mining, see www.​cnki.​net.
 
16
Johnston, A.I. (1995–1996). China’s new ‘old thinking’: The concept of limited deterrence. International Security, 20(3), 35.
 
17
Several Chinese scholars have argued that the development of nuclear weapon technologies does not necessarily imply these capabilities will be deployed or integrated into Chinese military doctrine. See Wu, R. (2016). How China practices and thinks about nuclear transparency. In B. Li, & Z. Tong (Eds.), Understanding Chinese nuclear thinking (pp. 219–251). Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
 
18
In this context, ‘strategic stability’ refers to situations where nuclear weapons are less likely to be used deliberately, accidentally, or in an unauthorized manner.
 
19
Lowering China’s threshold in the use of nuclear weapons is not necessarily the same as adjusting or lowering its nuclear deterrence. Chinese military writings have tended to stress that the main utility of nuclear deterrence is to impose sufficient psychological fear on the enemy to deter conventional strikes. There has, however, been much debate (within and outside China) on what conditions Beijing may place on the use of nuclear weapons. See Heginbotham, (Eds.). (2015). The U.S.-China military scorecard: Forces, geography, and the evolving balance of power 1996–2014. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 30–31.
 
20
See Kristensen, H.M., & Norris, R.S. (2016). Chinese nuclear forces, 2016. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 72(4), 205–211.
 
21
Chinese advocates of a significant buildup of nuclear forces for war-fighting include Yuwen, J., & Tang, L. (2013). Discussion and revelation of American ‘Quick global attack’ plan. Journal of the Academy of Equipment Command & Technology, 60(3); Chu, S. (2014). Maximally increase nuclear deterrence to deal with the threat of U.S. and Japan. People’s Daily Online, 4 June 2014. Available at: http://​connection.​ebscohost.​com/​c/​articles/​98782526/​tsinghua-professor-maximally-increase-nuclear-deterrence-deal-threat-u-s-japan (Accessed: 10 July 2016).
 
22
Johnston, A.I. (1995–1996). China’s new ‘old thinking’: The concept of limited deterrence. International Security, 20(3), 5–42.
 
23
See Krepon, M. (2015). Nuclear postures. Arms Control Wonk, 25 February 2015. http://​www.​armscontrolwonk.​com/​archive/​404492/​nuclear-postures/​ (Accessed: 2 July 2016).
 
24
Xue, B. (2010). Study on the development of contemporary strategic warning system. Military History Research, 3(102); Yuwen, J., & Tang, L. (2013). Discussion and revelation of American ‘Quick global attack’ plan. Journal of the Academy of Equipment Command & Technology, 60(3).
 
25
For early Chinese debates on nuclear thinking, see Johnston, A.I. (1995–1996). China’s new ‘old thinking’: The concept of limited deterrence. International Security, 20(3), 5–42.
 
26
See Kristensen, H.M., Norris, R.S., & McKinzie, M.G. (2006). Chinese nuclear forces and U.S. nuclear war planning. (November). Washington, DC: The Federation of American Scientists & The Natural Resources Defense Council.
 
27
Shou, X. (Ed.). (2013). The science of military strategy. Beijing, China: Military Science Press, 111.
 
28
Pollpeter, K. (2012). Space, cyber, and electronic warfare: Controlling the information domain. In A.J. Tellis, & T. Tanner (Eds.), Strategic Asia 2012–13: China’s military challenge (pp. 163–194). Seattle and Washington, DC: The National Bureau of Asian Research.
 
29
Zhao, X. (Ed.). (2005). Coercive deterrence warfare: A comprehensive discussion on missile deterrence. Beijing, China: National Defense University Press, 78.
 
30
Ministry of National Defense, The People’s Republic of China. (2015). China’s military strategy, 2014. Beijing, China: Information Office of the State Council.
 
31
For example, Lewis, J., & Litai, X. (1988). China builds the bomb. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, pp. 233–234; Zhang, B. (2015). China’s assertive nuclear posture: State security in an anarchic international order. Chap. 3. New York, NY: Routledge; Haynes, S.T. (2016). Chinese nuclear proliferation: How global politics is transforming China’s weapons build-up and transformation. Lincoln, NE: Potomac Books, 44–58.
 
32
The U.S. DoD reported in 2017 that China continues to develop a new MIRV-capable, road-mobile ICBM—the DF-41. Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense. (2017). Military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China, 2017. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 31.
 
33
See Kristensen, H.M., Norris, R.S., & McKinzie, M.G. (2006). Chinese nuclear forces and U.S. nuclear war planning. (November). Washington, DC: The Federation of American Scientists & The Natural Resources Defense Council.
 
34
Chase, S.M., & Chan, A. (2016). China’s evolving approach to ‘integrated strategic deterrence’, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA.
 
35
Shou, X. (Ed.). (2013). The science of military strategy. Beijing, China: Military Science Press, 254. Chinese strategists have also explored the tactical value of using China’s nuclear missiles in low earth orbit in an electromagnetic pulse attack against an adversary’s satellites. China successfully tested a ground-based midcourse interceptor in 2010 and 2013. China began research on missile defense as early as the 1960s, and maintained these efforts even after the United States–Soviet ABM treaty in 1972. China still faces several technical challenges in deploying an effective BMD system, most notably space-based early-warning systems.
 
36
Jervis, R. (1978). Cooperation under the security dilemma. World Politics, 30(2), 167–214.
 
38
Roberts, B. (2015). The case for U.S. nuclear weapons in the 21st century. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 141–176.
 
39
Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense. (2017). Military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China, 2017. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 61.
 
40
Ministry of National Defense, The People’s Republic of China. (2015). China’s military strategy, 2014, Information Office of the State Council, Beijing, China.
 
41
See Xue Bingjie, “Study on the development of contemporary strategic warning system,” Military History Research, no. 3 (2010), p. 102.
 
42
Shou, X. (Ed.). (2013). The science of military strategy. Beijing, China: Military Science Press.
 
43
Ministry of National Defense, The People’s Republic of China. (2015). China’s military strategy, 2014, Information Office of the State Council, Beijing, China.
 
44
The U.S. DoD reported that China is developing a strategic bomber with a possible nuclear mission, which would ‘provide China with its first credible nuclear “triad” of delivery systems’, Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense. (2017). Military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China, 2017. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 61.
 
45
For Chinese discussion on the link between the use of tactical nuclear weapons and technological advancements, see Tsao Kuo-chung. (1999). Mainland can attack Taiwan with miniaturized nuclear warheads. Tai Yang Pao, 19 July 1999. Available at: http://​app1.​chinadaily.​com.​cn/​static/​reportchina/​990809/​politics.​htm (Accessed: 12 December 2016).
 
46
Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense. (2017). Military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China, 2017. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 31. For offense–defense theorizing and missile mobility, see Levy, J.S. (1984). The offensive/defensive balance of military technology: A theoretical and historical analysis. International Studies Quarterly, 28(2), 225.
 
47
Analysts expect that China will shortly fit its new short-range submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), the JL-2 and JL-3, with MIRVs—as well as its legacy single-warhead DF-31B ICBM. Gertz, B. (2016). China flight tests new multiple-warhead missile. Freebeacon, 19 April 2016. Available at: http://​freebeacon.​com/​national-security/​china-flight-tests-multiple-warhead-missile/​ (Accessed: 2 July 2016).
 
48
Ibid.
 
49
The U.S. DoD estimates that by 2020 China will possess 69–78 nuclear-powered submarines. See Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense. (2016). Military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China, 2016. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 24. Kristensen, H.M., & Norris, R.S. (2016). Chinese nuclear forces, 2016. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 72(4), 205–211.
 
50
In December 2015, U.S. DoD officials confirmed that China has commenced its first submarine (SSBMs) nuclear deterrence patrols, but they could not confirm whether these SSBMs were armed with nuclear payloads. Baker, B.D. (2015). China deploys first nuclear deterrence patrol. The Diplomat, 19 December 2015. Available at: http://​thediplomat.​com/​2015/​12/​china-deploys-first-nuclear-deterrence-patrol/​.
 
51
Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense. (2016). Military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China, 2016. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 26. Other states actively developing SSBNs for nuclear deterrence include India, Pakistan, and North Korea.
 
52
Ibid., 26 and 38.
 
53
The experience of the United States’ successful use of advanced avionics, long-range precision munitions, and antiaircraft systems during the 1991 Gulf War heavily influenced the importance Chinese strategists attached to the development of these capabilities in the upgrading of China’s outdated bombers for nuclear deterrence missions.
 
54
Reinsch, W.A., & Shea, D.C. (2015). 2015 report to congress of the U.S.-China economic and security review committee, 114th congress, 1st session, November 2015. Washington, DC: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Committee, 348.
 
55
Pollack, J.H. (2015). Boost-glide weapons and US-China strategic stability. The Nonproliferation Review, 22(2), 155–164.
 
56
U.S. National Air and Space Intelligence Center assessments concluded that the developments of Chinese hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs) are closely associated with its nuclear modernization program. Also see Perrett, B., Sweetman, B., & Fabey, M. (2015). U.S. navy sees Chinese HGV as part of a wider threat. Aviation Week, 27 January 2015. Available at: http://​aviationweek.​com/​awin/​us-navy-sees-chinese-hgv-part-wider-threat (Accessed: 6 April 2016).
 
57
Jervis, R. (1978). Cooperation under the security dilemma. World Politics, 30(2), 187.
 
58
Recent evidence suggests that Chinese strategists are concerned that China’s lagging technological advancements in the nuclear domain could increase China’s vulnerability and increase regional instability. China still appears willing to accept an ongoing quantitative inferior position in its nuclear arsenals vis-à-vis the United States and Russia (but less so India), as Beijing prioritizes building up its conventional forces, and making qualitative enhancements to its nuclear forces. For a recent discussion on these issues with Chinese analysts, see Li, B., & Zhao, T. (Eds.). (2016). Understanding Chinese nuclear thinking. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
 
59
The PLA Second Artillery Force (PLASAF) was considered an independent branch and was treated (albeit nonofficially) as though it were a military ‘service’. Significantly, the Commander of the PLASAF became a Central Military Commission (CMC) member in 2004—together with the respective PLA Navy and PLA Air force Commanders. An anonymous reviewer generously highlighted this point to the author.
 
60
Li, X. (2016). Xi Jinping confers military banners to army, rocket force, and strategic support force units of the people’s liberation army and delivers speech. Xinhua, 1 January 2016. Available at: http://​news.​xinhuanet.​com/​politics/​2016-01/​01/​c_​1117646667.​htm (Accessed: 2 March 2016).
 
61
Ibid.
 
62
Yang, Y. (2016). Senior Colonel Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China, answers reporters’ questions at a regular press conference. Ministry of National Defense, The People’s Republic of China, 30 November 2016. Available at: http://​eng.​mod.​gov.​cn/​DefenseNews/​2016-12/​01/​content_​4765258.​htm (Accessed: 10 June 2016).
 
63
The author was unable to locate recent Chinese-language literature related to the operations or defense planning of China’s strategic rocket forces—or the new Rocket Force.
 
64
All three of the PLA’s services have responsibilities for China’s deterrence capabilities.
 
65
The latest authorized doctrinal SMS published in 2013 placed a greater emphasis on the space and cyber military domains compared to earlier editions. The cyber and space military domains are believed to be controlled by the newly commissioned PLA Strategic Support Force (PLASSF).
 
66
Chase, S.M., & Chan, A. (2016). China’s evolving approach to ‘integrated strategic deterrence’. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 50–52.
 
67
Kang, H. (2013). “Meijun shinian zhanzheng qijian de wuqi zhuangbei fazhan” (the development of U.S. military combat capabilities over the next ten years). Foreign Military Studies Journal, 6, 30–33.
 
68
Zhang, H. (2010). China’s perspective on a nuclear-free world. The Washington Quarterly, 33(2), 147.
 
69
Shou, X. (Ed.). (2013). The science of military strategy. Beijing, China: Military Science Press, 233–234; Yao, Y. (2010). China’s perspective on nuclear deterrence. Air and Space Power Journal, 24(1), 27–30.
 
70
The Chinese ‘lean and effective concept’ differs from the English or French concepts in that it does not require specific threshold levels of destruction to populations or industrial capacity of adversaries. Rather, China’s conceptualization is more subjective and implies a lower threshold, derived in part from the related concept of ‘mutual fragility’. See Heginbotham, (Eds.). (2015). The U.S.-China military scorecard: Forces, geography, and the evolving balance of power 1996–2014. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.
 
71
Li, B., & Zhao, T. (Eds.). (2016). Understanding Chinese nuclear thinking. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 13.
 
72
See Yuwen, J., & Tang, L. (2013). Discussion and revelation of American ‘Quick global attack’ plan. Journal of the Academy of Equipment Command & Technology, 60(3); Shou, X. (Ed.). (2013). The science of military strategy. Beijing, China: Military Science Press; Peng Guangqian, & Yao Youzhi (Eds.). (2005). The science of military strategy (English Edition ed.). Beijing, China: Military Science Press, 222.
 
73
Yu, X. (Ed.). (2004). The science of second artillery campaigns. Beijing, China: People’s Liberation Army Press, 298–299.
 
74
Christensen, T.J. (2012). The meaning of the nuclear evolution: China’s strategic modernization and US-China security relations. Journal of Strategic Studies, 35(4), 450–453.
 
75
China modified and subsequently dropped its position on banning antisatellite weapons (ASATs) in response to the U.S. weaponization (or ‘counterspace operations’) of space and Washington’s pursuit of space-based missile defense systems—following its withdrawal from the antiballistic missile treaty in 2002.
 
76
Fravel, T.M., & Medeiros, E. (2010). China’s search for assured retaliation: The evolution of Chinese nuclear strategy and force structure. International Security, 35(2), 48–87.
 
77
Zhao, X. (Ed.). (2005). Coercive deterrence warfare: A comprehensive discussion on missile deterrence. Beijing, China: National Defense University Press, 173; Yu, R., & Guangqian, P. (2009). Nuclear no-first-use revisited. China Security, 5(1), 81–90.
 
78
Zhao, X. (Ed.). (2005). Coercive deterrence warfare: A comprehensive discussion on missile deterrence. Beijing, China: National Defense University Press. This approach shares similarities with Russia’s post–Cold War nuclear doctrine.
 
79
For Chinese views on U.S. missile defense systems, see Li, B. (2012). China and the new U.S. missile defense in East Asia. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
 
80
Yao, Y. (2010). China’s perspective on nuclear deterrence. Air and Space Power Journal, 24(1), 27–30; Sun, X. (2016). The development of nuclear weapons in China. In B. Li, & T. Zhao (Eds.), Understanding Chinese nuclear thinking (pp. 79–103). Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
 
81
From a Chinese perspective, this position could be squared if Beijing maintains its NFU policy, but signals that it would respond to a first strike with limited nuclear war-fighting tactics.
 
82
Schelling, T.C. (1966). Arms and influence. London; New Haven: Yale University Press, 69–78; see Zhao, X. (Ed.). (2005). Coercive deterrence warfare: A comprehensive discussion on missile deterrence. Beijing, China: National Defense University Press, 178. Chinese strategists have generally conceptualized ‘weishe’ as combining the accumulation of weapons, a demonstration of the willingness to use these weapons, and a tactical preference for military signaling.
 
83
Li, B., & Zhao, T. (Eds.). (2016). Understanding Chinese nuclear thinking. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 10.
 
84
Chinese strategists frequently cited Henry Kissinger’s conceptualization of deterrence based on three key elements. However, ambiguity has continued to surround Chinese views on what deters nuclear conflict in the first place, and how Beijing would likely communicate or signal its credible deterrent during wartime.
 
85
For recent views from Chinese scholarship on the evolution of Chinese nuclear thinking, see Li, B., & Zhao, T. (Eds.). (2016). Understanding Chinese nuclear thinking. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
 
86
Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense. (2016). Military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China, 2016. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 4.
 
87
Former U.S. President Reagan frequently cited the U.S. ‘peace through strength’ concept during the Cold War era, and it was associated with realpolitik IR theories.
 
88
Peng Guangqian, & Yao Youzhi (Eds.). (2005). The science of military strategy (English Edition ed.). Beijing, China: Military Science Press, 222.
 
89
Glaser, B.S., & Funaiole, M.P. (2016). China power: Does China have an effective sea-based nuclear deterrent? Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies.
 
90
Kristensen, H.M., & Norris, R.S. (2016). Chinese nuclear forces, 2016. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 72(4), 205–211.
 
91
Lewis, J., & Litai, X. (1994). China’s strategic sea-power. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 234–235.
 
92
Zhao, X. (Ed.). (2005). Coercive deterrence warfare: A comprehensive discussion on missile deterrence. Beijing, China: National Defense University Press, 17.
 
93
External analysts have been unable to verify conclusively whether China has produced tactical nuclear warheads, but many concur that it has significantly improved the various capabilities required to develop nuclear-capable cruise and ballistic missiles, for example the dual-payload IRBM DF-26 that recently entered into the PLA’s forces. Additionally, the U.S. Air Force Intelligence lists China’s ground-launched DH-10 land-attack cruise missile and its CJ-20 air-launched land-attack missile as dual-capable, but it is unclear whether these findings originate from a coordinated U.S. intelligence assessment.
 
94
Chinese strategists have historically referred to these military (or soft) targets as ‘key-point counterstrikes’ and ‘close defense’. See Yu, X. (Ed.). (2004). The science of second artillery campaigns. Beijing, China: People’s Liberation Army Press, 145 and 147.
 
95
Wilson, J. (2016). China’s expanding ability to conduct conventional missile strikes on Guam. Washington, DC: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
 
96
Zhao, X. (Ed.). (2005). Coercive deterrence warfare: A comprehensive discussion on missile deterrence. Beijing, China: National Defense University Press; Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense. (2016). Military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China, 2016. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 17; Liu, C. (2016). The relationship between nuclear weapons and conventional military conflicts. In B. Li, & T. Zhao (Eds.), Understanding Chinese nuclear thinking (pp. 149–171). Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
 
97
Ibid., 17–18.
 
98
Shou, X. (Ed.). (2013). The science of military strategy. Beijing, China: Military Science Press, 79–81; Liu, C. (2016). The relationship between nuclear weapons and conventional military conflicts. In B. Li, & T. Zhao (Eds.), Understanding Chinese nuclear thinking (pp. 149–171). Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
 
99
Kazianis, H.J. (2015). Why China fears US missile defenses. The National Interest, 28 April 2015. Available at: http://​nationalinterest​.​org/​feature/​why-china-fears-us-missile-defenses-12449/​ (Accessed: 8 July 2016). It is difficult to ascertain from open sources whether these developments were specific reactions to THAAD, or if they were envisaged before THAAD was announced.
 
100
Sun, X. (2013). Strategic choices of the nuclear era: Research on issues in China’s nuclear strategy. Beijing, China: Institute of Engineering Physics Research Center, 104.
 
101
Chinese strategists still consider the risk of a war over Taiwan’s unification as ‘relatively high’ and future conflict would likely be high-intensity ‘against the background of nuclear deterrence’. See Shou, X. (Ed.). (2013). The science of military strategy. Beijing, China: Military Science Press, 99–100.
 
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In large part, China’s expanding deterrence nuclear and conventional capabilities contributed to U.S. efforts to buttress its nuclear triad. For Chinese scholarly views related to weapons opacity and deterrence, see Yao, Y. (2010). China’s perspective on nuclear deterrence. Air and Space Power Journal, 24(1), 27–30; Wu, R. (2016). How China practices and thinks about nuclear transparency. In B. Li, & Z. Tong (Eds.), Understanding Chinese nuclear thinking (pp. 219–251). Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
 
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105
According to IR theorists, the security dilemma is both conditional and unintentional. One of the main preconditions for the existence of a ‘genuine’ security dilemma between states is that both sides harbor nonmalign (or ‘security-seeking’) intentions. See Tang, S. (2009). The security dilemma: A conceptual analysis. Security Studies, 18(3), 587–623.
 
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Kazianis, H.J. (2015). Why China fears US missile defenses. The National Interest, 28 April 2015. Available at: http://​nationalinterest​.​org/​feature/​why-china-fears-us-missile-defenses-12449 (Accessed: 8 July 2016). It is difficult to ascertain from open sources whether these developments were specific reactions to THAAD, or if they were envisaged before THAAD was announced. For Chinese views on these programs, see Shou, X. (Ed.). (2013). The science of military strategy. Beijing, China: Military Science Press, 79–81; Liu, C. (2016). The relationship between nuclear weapons and conventional military conflicts. In B. Li, & T. Zhao (Eds.), Understanding Chinese nuclear thinking (pp. 149–171). Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. For the Third Offset Strategy, see Work, R. (2015). The Third Offset Strategy and its implications for partners and allies. U.S. Department of Defense. Washington, DC, 28 January 2015. Available at: http://​www.​defense.​gov/​News/​Speeches/​Speech-View/​Article/​606641/​the-third-us-offset-strategy-and-its-implications-for-partners-and-allies (Accessed: 20 March 2016).
 
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Chinese strategists do not appear to share the concerns of several Western defense analysts that ASB could risk a conflict escalating to cross the nuclear threshold. See Shou, X. (Ed.). (2013). The science of military strategy. Beijing, China: Military Science Press, 101; Friedberg, A.L. (2014). Aaron L. Friedberg: Launch of the beyond air-sea battle—Shangri-La voices from the 14th IISS Asia security summit. International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), 29 May 2014. Available at: https://​www.​iiss.​org/​en/​shangri-la%20​voices/​blogsections/​2014-363a/​launch-of-beyond-air-sea-battle-0ac5 (Accessed: 26 June 2015).
 
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Metadata
Title
Chinese Evolving Approaches to Nuclear ‘War-Fighting’: An Emerging Security Dilemma?
Author
James Johnson
Copyright Year
2018
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-75838-1_6

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