The Minimum Means of Reprisal: China’s Search for Security in the Nuclear Age

Jeffrey G. Lewis
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MIT Press

In The Minimum Means of Reprisal, Jeffrey Lewis examines China’s nuclear and space capabilities and deployment strategies, as well as the Chinese government’s stance in arms control negotiations. Lewis finds that Chinese officials hold a "restrained view" about the role of nuclear weapons in national security and maintain a limited nuclear capacity sufficient to deter attack but not large enough for control of these weapons to be compromised.

The future of cooperative security arrangements in space will depend largely on the U.S.-Chinese relationship, and Lewis warns that changes in U.S. defense strategy, including the weaponization of space, could signal to China that its capabilities are not sufficient to deter the United States from the use of force. Such a shift could cause China to reconsider its use of restraint in nuclear strategy, further damaging the already weakened arms control regime and increasing the nuclear threat to the United States and the world.

The American Academy Studies in Global Security book series is edited by Carl Kaysen (MIT), Martin Malin (American Academy), and John Steinbruner (University of Maryland), and published by The MIT Press. This volume is one of five that consider international security in the post-Soviet region.