China's Nuclear Idiosyncrasies and Their Challenges Proliferation Papers, No. 47, November-December 2013
In many respects, the People’s Republic of China’s nuclear arsenal and posture appear unusual to Western eyes. From its “No First Use” policy to its nuclear warhead storage system, Beijing appears to think about nuclear weapons and their strategic effects in a way that differs with the West in general, and with the United States in particular.
This paper offers an understanding of the sources of these idiosyncrasies and how they shape the Chinese nuclear posture. It then argues these differing conceptions can be a source of misunderstanding during negotiations and dialogues, which can be damaging to crisis stability and hinder bilateral cooperation and confidence-building with the United States. The paper finally outlines a proposal for a Joint Statement on Strategic Stability that might help both parties to better manage stability issues in the region.