Spring Quarterly 2018
On February 18, a senior Chinese diplomat reaffirmed that China is will not use nuclear weapons first in a war, reminding a major conference of international military officials that, “China maintains a very small nuclear arsenal (a total of 260 nuclear weapons) and China follows the policy of self-defense and minimum deterrence.” The phrase “minimum deterrence” refers to the policy of deterring a nuclear attack by threatening to retaliate. The United States and Russia each maintain about 7,000 nuclear weapons most of which are designed to strike first and attack enemy nuclear weapons before they are launched. In addition to its formal no-first-use policy, the veteran diplomat Fu Ying, who is also chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, added that under no circumstances will China use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. She spoke at what was called the Munich Security Conference.
Countries that have pledged “no first use” of nuclear weapons include China since 1964, India since 1998, and North Korea since 2016. Nuclear armed countries with first-use/first-strike weapons and war plans include the US, Russia, the UK, France, Israel, and Pakistan.
—The Diplomat online, & The Straits Times, Feb. 21; Xinhua news service, Feb. 18. 2017