China’s Minimum Deterrence
Traditionally, China’s nuclear deterrence has been defensive and limited. The former is reflected through China’s no-first use pledge and its complete retaliatory purpose. The later is reflected through China’s minimal deterrence doctrine, which means threatening with "the lowest level of damage necessary to prevent an attack, with the fewest number of nuclear weapons possible.” Admittedly, China’s top leaders, from Mao Zedong to Hu Jintao, have viewed nuclear weapons as tools to deter nuclear aggression or coercion. Mao depicted nuclear weapons as “paper tigers,” but he understood their ability to deter nuclear attacks against China and he was conscious of the danger posed by the American and then-Soviet nuclear monopoly.
Likewise, Deng Xiaoping stressed the deterrent role of nuclear weapons. Referring to their deterrent role, Deng told “officials from the Seventh Machine Industry (Aerospace), which was responsible for developing China’s ballistic missiles,” that a de...
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Payne, Keith B. Fallacies of Cold War Deterrence and a New Direction. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
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