China's Evolving Approach to "Integrated Strategic Deterrence"

China's Evolving Approach to "Integrated Strategic Deterrence"

China's Evolving Approach to "Integrated Strategic Deterrence"

China's Evolving Approach to "Integrated Strategic Deterrence"

Synopsis

Drawing on Chinese military writings, this report finds that China's strategic-deterrence concepts are evolving in response to Beijing's changing assessment of its external security environment and a growing emphasis on protecting its emerging interests in space and cyberspace. China also is rapidly closing what was once a substantial gap between the People's Liberation Army's strategic weapons capabilities and its strategic-deterrence concepts.

Excerpt

Chinese thinking about strategic deterrence appears to be evolving as China revises its perceptions of its external security environment and improves its military capabilities. First, China’s assessment of its external security environment may motivate changes in its thinking about the requirements of “integrated strategic deterrence,” a Chinese military concept that calls for a comprehensive and coordinated set of strategic deterrence capabilities, including nuclear, conventional, space, and cyber forces. People’s Liberation Army (PLA) strategists appear to regard U.S. “rebalancing” to Asia as part of what they characterize as a broader pattern of U.S. attempts to “contain” China’s growing power and influence, and they are concerned about the possibility that improvements in U.S. capabilities—particularly in the areas of missile defense, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, as well as conventional prompt global-strike capabilities—could undermine the deterrent credibility of China’s strategic missile force. Second, the PLA’s continued deployment of new and improved capabilities presents Chinese leaders with a wider range of policy and strategy options. For example, at least one important pla publication, the 2013 edition of The Science of Military Strategy, has raised the possibility that, as its early-warning capabilities improve, China may want to adopt a launchon-warning posture for its nuclear missile force, an option the authors suggest would strengthen deterrence without violating China’s nuclear no-first-use policy.

In light of these circumstances, this report looks at China’s evolving approach to integrated strategic deterrence. Drawing on a variety of Chinese military writings, this report explores the origins of this . . .

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