From Minimum to Limited Deterrence: China’s Nuclear build-up and future implications

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China’s nuclear capabilities have traditionally been focused on maintaining a “minimum” deterrent. However, in the past decade, China has embarked on a modernisation and expansion of its nuclear arsenal, while still adhering to certain elements of its original nuclear policy, such as the no first use (NFU) of nuclear weapons. Presently, China seems to be shifting its nuclear deterrent from a minimum to a limited deterrent. This change in force size and structure can be attributed to two factors: a revised understanding of credible deterrence in an evolving security landscape and a pursuit of enhanced status. Although the possibility of China adopting an offensive nuclear strategy in the future is unlikely, it cannot be completely dismissed. The security implications for countries that have rivalries with China, notably the United States, India, and Japan, are significant. Consequently, it is imperative for China to increase transparency regarding its intentions, resolve territorial disputes, and engage in nuclear arms control discussions with the United States.

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