Space and Defense

Space and Defense


China's hypersonic glide vehicle test in October 2021 prompted widespread concern in the general public and within the defense intelligence community. General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the test was "very close" to a Sputnik moment.1 More than mere power projection by the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Chinese Communist Party ( CCP), the hypersonic test is an exemplification of rapid advancements in Chinese strategic nuclear forces writ large. Improved nuclear weapons capabilities will offer Beijing greater leverage in regional and international disputes with an increased capacity to coerce and compel adversaries into submission. As China's nuclear capabilities increase, so too should its deterrence strategy in terms of overall nuclear beliefs, objectives, force requirements, and subsequent targeting policies. This paper outlines what China is capable of doing with their nascent nuclear triad and how it impacts their international relations strategy by providing an overview of China's nuclear modernization efforts applied to a conceptual framework of nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence. This paper demonstrates what China may do with an expanded nuclear arsenal, and presents an argument on why the US should care about these policy perspectives.



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