Thesis Title

Chinese Nuclear Policy

Date of Graduation

Spring 2009


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Robert Joseph


china, nuclear weapons, nuclear doctrine, nuclear policy, nuclear strategy

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


Nuclear weapons are a critical element of the People's Liberation Army and China's core military strategies of active defense and anti-access/area denial. Chinese nuclear policy will play a pivotal role in the future of China as it struggles to reduce the military superiority of the United States in East Asia. Innovative tactical nuclear weapons and advanced delivery vehicle technology will support China's military doctrine and strategies while China's ailing strategic nuclear triad of approximately 300-400 nuclear warheads, including 20 DF-5A ICBMs capable of striking continental United States, continues to provide a weakening element of deterrence amid global deployments of missile defense systems. With a significant generation gap in aircraft technology and the increasing deployments of advanced air defense units, China will develop and deploy competitive land-based strategic missiles and modern submarine concepts to enhance its regional and global military presence. In support of China's security independence and its limited imports of military technology, China's reliance on nuclear weapons to balance American and allied military power will be demonstrated through both rhetoric and action as the PLA receives increased funding for the Strategic Rocket Forces of the Second Artillery Corps and continues to deploy over 200 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles a year along China's coast adjacent to Taiwan. Recognizing that Chinese fighter aircraft and submarines are inferior to that of the U.S. and its regional military allies, China will place a greater emphasis on tactical weaponry, both conventional, to control escalation, and nuclear to circumvent PLA deficiencies in accuracy and countermeasure technology. Ballistic missile quantity, supersonic cruise missiles and unconventional weaponry are options China has to exploit missile defense limitations and assault U.S. Carrier Strike Groups.


© Douglas Robert MacGregor

Campus Only