China's nuclear weapons capabilities grow

Monday, January 12, 2015

Subject

China's nuclear weapons capabilities.

Significance

China has strengthened its nuclear weapons capabilities over the past year, but the issue has not featured prominently in international relations and the US administration has not made nuclear weapons a priority in dealings with Beijing. Unlike other nuclear weapons states, China maintains a strict 'no first use' policy, but its nuclear policies are considerably more opaque than what is seen in US or even Russian government documents.

Impacts

  • New submarine-launched ballistic missiles will provide more reliable second-strike capacity than the more vulnerable land-based missiles.
  • China's space and cyber capabilities could amplify the effects of a nuclear strike by paralysing the adversary's response capabilities.
  • Chinese nuclear advances will increase the danger involved in US military intervention in conflicts between China and Taiwan or Japan.
  • China's nuclear build-up may affect its security negatively overall, prompting neighbours to develop missile defence and other capabilities.
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