By Hui Zhang
Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
The new defense white paper released by China on April 16 has sparked a debate over whether China is changing its nuclear policy, because this new paper, unlike previous editions, did not reiterate China’s long-standing no-first-use nuclear weapons doctrine. Is China changing its nuclear policy?
Colonel Yang Yujun, a spokesman of China’s Ministry of Defense, answered this question unambiguously during a briefing on April 25. Yang stated that “China repeatedly reaffirms that China has always pursued no-first-use nuclear weapons policy, upholds its nuclear strategy of self-defense, and never takes part in any form of nuclear arms race with any country. The policy has never been changed. The concern about changes of China’s nuclear policy is unnecessary.”
Colonel Yang further explained that this new white paper elaborates clearly the readiness level of the PLA Second Artillery Force (PLASAF) in peacetime and the conditions under which China would launch a resolute counterattack –if China comes under a nuclear attack. All these details, as Yang stated in the briefing, show exactly that “China is earnestly fulfilling its no-fist-use nuclear pledge.” Read more