China’s Nuclear Inventory: Capabilities & Possibilities
Policy Briefs

China’s Nuclear Inventory: Capabilities & Possibilities

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has sparked fears over Russia resorting to nuclear weapons (if at all) to secure victory over Ukraine. Are there ‘red lines’ that are limiting Russia’s nuclear options? While the Russia-Ukraine War has re-affirmed the rationality of nuclear deterrence theory—that nuclear weapons are an effective tool for deterrence—interestingly, it has also brought to the surface an important question: What happens when a state’s contingency-based irrational behavior raises the scenario of a credible nuclear threat?

In drawing a corollary to the Russia-Ukraine War, China becomes a case in point given the increasing speculation over China’s pending invasion of Taiwan. In drawing lessons from Russia, will China, too, resort to nuclear blackmail? This becomes a prominent query.

In this policy brief, Dr Amrita Jash argues that it is imperative to understand China’s nuclear policy which for long remained in a ‘vulnerable state’ but now, retaining its “no-first-use” policy, sees China increasingly modernizing and expanding its nuclear inventory.

About the Author

Dr. Amrita Jash is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Institution of Eminence) in Manipal, India. She holds a Ph.D. in Chinese Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Dr. Jash was also a Pavate Fellow at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Jash has authored the book on The Concept of Active Defence in China’s Military Strategy (2021). Her writings have been published at CSIS, The Jamestown Foundation, RUSI, RSIS, National University of Singapore, Pacific Forum, ThinkChina, Taipei Times, E-IR, Asia Times, Munk School, Crawford School, ISDP, SADF and others. Her research interests are on China’s foreign policy, the PLA, and security and strategic issues in India-China and China-Japan relations, as well as the Indo-Pacific.

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Image: Cong Fu, Director-General of the Department of Arms Control and Disarmament at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, addresses the general debate of the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. UN Photo/Loey Felipe.