China’s evolving security dynamics with the United States have compelled it to rethink its nuclear strategy to achieve effective deterrence. It is aiming to modernise its nuclear arsenal and increase its nuclear ambiguity through conventional-nuclear entanglement. Ambiguity will increase the risks of mischaracterisation and can have a destabilising impact on the Indo-Pacific region. This paper highlights two areas where India ought to be most concerned: the size of China’s increasing nuclear warhead stockpile, and its evolving nuclear posture that involves a growing number of dual-capable missiles. In response, India will not only have to consider a shift in its posture, but also supplement its current arsenal with non-nuclear strategic capabilities such as cyber, electronic and space weapons for establishing credible deterrence.
Attribution: Kartik Bommakanti and Suyash Desai, “China’s Nuclear Ambiguity and its impact on India,” Takshashila Discussion Document 2021-01, April 07, 2021, The Takshashila Institution.Chinas Nuclear Ambiguity and its Impact on India 1.0 KB and SD
This paper is the result of a research collaboration between Observer Research Foundation and the Takshashila Institution. Click here to read the ORF version.
About the Authors
Kartik Bommakanti is a Fellow with the Strategic Studies Programme at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, India. He specialises in space military issues and his research is primarily centred on the Indo-Pacific region. He also works on emerging technologies as well as nuclear, conventional and sub-conventional coercion, particularly in the context of the Indian subcontinent and the role of great powers in the subcontinent’s strategic dynamics. He has published in peer reviewed journals. (Twitter: @KartikBommakan1).
Suyash Desai is a research analyst working on China’s defence and foreign policies at The Takshashila Institution, Bangalore, India. He also works on India’s defence and foreign policies and publishes a weekly newsletter called The PLA Insight. His degrees are from Jawaharlal Nehru University (M Phil, International Organisations), Mumbai University (Masters, Political Science) and Indian School of International Law (Diploma, International Law). (Twitter: @suyash_desai).