On July 9, Foreign Policy published a biweekly column featuring Scowcroft Center deputy director Matthew Kroenig and New American Engagement Initiative senior fellow Emma Ashford discussing the latest news in international affairs.
In this column, they debated the future of Chinese nuclear posture and utilization, the Sino-Russian relationship, US-China economic decoupling, and prospects for US action in Haiti in the wake of President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination.
If China were worried about a U.S. first strike, it would put nuclear weapons on platforms that are hard for the Pentagon to target, like mobile missiles and submarines, not in fixed silos. I think this portends a dangerous shift in Chinese nuclear strategy to include the possibility of a first-strike or launch-on-warning posture against U.S. strategic forces and the U.S. homeland.
China is clearly engaging in nuclear modernization, but so are the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom; it seems like these Chinese steps are no more than we might expect in the current situation. It’s not clear to me that this development—the discovery of new missile silos—suggests any major change in posture, or on China’s no-first-use policy.