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Former Diplomat: China Should Rethink ‘No First Strike Policy’

China should review its “no first strike policy” regarding a potential nuclear conflict, a former Chinese diplomat said, citing pressure from the United States’ own nuclear weapons.

As reported by the South China Morning Post, former diplomat Sha Zukang spoke at a conference in Beijing, saying that it is time for China to “fine-tune” its policy not to strike first with nuclear weapons.

Now retired, Zukang served as the Chinese ambassador for disarmament affairs to the UN in Geneva in the 1990s.

According to Zukang, changing Chinese policy on a nuclear first strike would be an effective way to counter growing pressure from the US in the Asia-Pacific region. “The strategic pressure on China is intensifying as [the US] has built new military alliances and as it increases its military presence in our neighborhood,” he said.

For the most part, Sha clarified that China ought to keep its “no first strike policy” for most countries, but may start thinking differently for the US. The policy, Sha said, may not apply between China and the US unless the two nations “negotiate a mutual understanding on no first use of nuclear weapons, or unless the US ceases to take any negative measures that undermine the effectiveness of China’s strategic forces.”

The US’ ‘Sense of Urgency’

The US military shares the same sense of urgency as China in addressing a potential conflict between the two nations.

Last month, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. declared that the Air Force, and the United States in general, must respond to challenges from China with “speed, focus, and commitment.”

The general reasoned that if the country is unprepared the “risk of losing” is high.

In the G7 meeting in Europe earlier this year, discussions between President Joe Biden and NATO allies focused heavily on the idea that China’s aggressive behavior must be challenged.

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