In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, we are joined by David Logan and Phil Saunders, who’ve recently co-authored a new report titled Discerning the Drivers of China’s Nuclear Force Development: Models, Indicators, and Data. They lay out the six models developed in the report and explain which models are the most compelling for explaining China’s behavior. Dr. Logan dives into the expansion in size, structure, and capabilities of China’s nuclear stockpile in the last 10 years but highlights the fact that there has been no official announcement on China’s reasoning for this build-up. In the context of this expansion, Dr. Saunders points out that China is showing signs that its nuclear strategy could be shifting, and he notes that the prospects of strategic arms control have become more complicated.
In this episode, Dr. David Santoro joins us to discuss the prospects for China joining a strategic nuclear dialogue, and what such a dialogue might achieve. Dr. Santoro maintains that China may be amenable to entering into bilateral talks with the US on strategic stability in the near term that could pave the way for trilateral nuclear talks with the US and Russia in the long run. He explains the challenges policymakers face in pulling China into an arms control agreement that aims at capping the number of Chinese nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Dr. Santoro also offers recommendations for how the US, China, and Russia can realistically make progress to narrow their differences on arms control going forward.
China is one of only nine countries that possesses nuclear weapons. Although its nuclear arsenal is small relative to those of the United States and Russia, China is rapidly expanding and modernizing its nuclear forces and may be significantly shifting its nuclear policies.