The Taiwan strait and the future of China's no-first-use nuclear policy

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines whether China may modify its no-first-use nuclear policy in the future. It suggests that due to the ascendance of Taiwan as the central security challenge for China and its inability to use conventional deterrence to prevent American military intervention in the Taiwan Strait, there are increasing Chinese discussions on the role of nuclear deterrence in this context. This article suggests that for political and strategic reasons China is unlikely to formally renounce the no-first-use policy. However, this does not rule out the possibility of China threatening first use of nuclear weapons when a real crisis in the strait makes American military intervention inevitable or imminent. Indeed, recent evidence suggests that some of China's nuclear experts are promoting a flexible approach to the no-first-use Policy. Thus, the article suggests the U.S. must prepare for the contingency of Chinese nuclear deterrence in the Taiwan Strait and examine how this scenario may impact American security strategies in the Pacific.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-182
Number of pages19
JournalComparative Strategy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2008


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