The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

China’s slow nuclear start: approves first nuclear project since Fukushima

China approves first nuclear project since Fukushima  China has given the go-ahead for the launch of a major domestic nuclear power project, marking the first such approval since a temporary freeze on new construction following Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

China General Nuclear Power Group has received state approval to build two one-gigawatt (GW) reactors in the second phase of a project called Hongyanhe in the northeastern province of Liaoning, the Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

The project will use what the company calls home-grown “third-generation” reactor technology, dubbed ACPR1000, the report said, citing Yang Xiaofeng, general manager of the Hongyanhe project.

China froze new construction and implemented a year-long safety review after the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

While it lifted the construction ban at the end 2012, China has been slow to approve new nuclear projects. Beijing has promised to stick to the highest safety standards, using third generation reactors.

In an estimated $100 billion expansion programme, China aims to raise its domestic nuclear power capacity to 58 GWs by 2020 from 20.3 GW at the end of 2014. Nuclear capacity would still only meet 3 percent of China’s total electricity needs by 2020.

Buy-China-nukes-1China is also seeking to export its home-grown third-generation reactors, such as Hualong 1 and CAP1400, to an overseas market potentially worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

But industry executives and analysts say it faces a major obstacle: it needs to show it can build and safely operate these reactors at home first.

China General Nuclear is the state-owned parent of CGN Power , which raised $3.2 billion in an initial public offering in Hong Kong in December. (Reporting by Charlie Zhu in Hong Kong and David Stanway in Beijing; editing by David Clarke)

March 11, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics | Leave a comment

Pakistan earthquake prone, non signatory to NPT -but China is building nuclear reactors there

Buy-China-nukes-1flag-pakistanChina Builds Nuclear Reactors in Earthquake-Prone Pakistan by Nick Cunningham Oil e, 10 March 2015 

China has decided to defy international norms and build new nuclear reactors in Pakistan.

While the U.S. and Europe see stagnant growth for commercial nuclear power, the same is not true in Asia. China is not only building nuclear reactors at home, but it is exporting its technology abroad. Of particular concern is its construction of nuclear reactors in Pakistan. China helped build two reactors at Chashma, which came online in 2000 and 2011 respectively. More recently, it has decided to double the size of the Chashma power plant, with two additional reactors under construction. And it is also constructing a new nuclear power plant near Karachi, using China’s next generation ACP-1000 design.

But China’s plans in Pakistan are facing global criticism.

The problem is that Pakistan is not a signatory of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which should disqualify it for any international help in building nuclear power plants. The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a coalition of nuclear technology exporting countries who have banded together to create guidelines and norms around the sale of nuclear technology in order to ensure its safe use while guarding against the spread of nuclear weapons capabilities. One of the core tenets of the NSG is to not trade nuclear technology to countries that have not signed up to the NPT. Pakistan is one of the world’s four remaining holdouts to the NPT (the other three are India, Israel, and South Sudan).

That is why China’s decision to build nuclear reactors in Pakistan has received criticism. As a member of the NSG, China is defying the guidelines on nuclear trade. China says that its promise to Pakistan predates its 2004 accession to the suppliers group……..

March 11, 2015 Posted by | China, Pakistan, safety | Leave a comment

Chinese physcst points out the danger of inland nuclear power plants

CPPCC eyes inland nuke power  By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times 2015-3-11 :”………..He Zuoxiu, a theoretical physicist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, argued against the proposal.

He Zuoxiu told the Global Times that an inland nuclear power plant may raise bigger safety concerns, as accidents could occur closer to populous areas.

Compared with coastal plants, inland nuclear plants have more complicated requirements where location and geological conditions are concerned, and authorities must take population growth into careful account, as well as emergency evacuation and radioactive exhaust emissions, said the physicist.

He Zuoxiu added that such projects would carry with them tremendous potential danger, which in turn necessitates thorough consideration prior to any construction.

March 11, 2015 Posted by | China, safety | Leave a comment

Technical delays, safety concerns, hamper China’s ambition to sell nuclear reactors to the world

Buy-China-nukes-1RPT-“Made in China” nuclear reactors a tough sell in global market Mar 8, 2015 By Charlie Zhu and David Stanway (Reuters) - As China signs global deals to export its nuclear power technology, it faces a huge obstacle: it still needs to show it can build and safely operate these reactors at home……..

Premier Li Keqiang told an annual parliamentary meeting this week that the China aimed to increase its share of global sales in a range of advanced industries, including implementing major projects in nuclear power. And in a sign of progress on exporting its own nuclear technology, China signed a preliminary agreement last month to sell its flagship Hualong 1 reactor to Argentina.

But despite state media describing the deal as the model’s “maiden voyage”, China has not yet built Hualong 1, raising questions about the country’s capacity to deliver reactors for the global market.

“Our fatal weakness is our management standards are not high enough. There is a big gap with international standards,” said Xu Lianyi, a senior expert at China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corp (SNPTC), referring to the challenges China faces expanding its nuclear power sector.

SNPTC, which was set up to receive technology transferred from Westinghouse Electric Co., is trying to develop another reactor ultimately targeted at the world market. Although China has operated Western-designed reactors at home for more than 20 years, it will need to convince buyers of the reliability of its own technology, particularly given a chequered reputation on industrial standards and safety in some other areas such as mining.

China’s first Hualong 1 project, in Fujian province, may not be completed until 2020, assuming it breaks ground this year and construction goes smoothly, said Li Ning, dean of the School of Energy Research at Xiamen University…….

Beijing has promised to stick to the highest safety standards, using so-called “third generation” reactors like Hualong 1 and CAP1400, another home-grown model identified for future export. Due to be based on technology transferred from Westinghouse, the launch of CAP1400 will depend on the completion of a pilot Westinghouse third-generation reactor in Zhejiang province, which is facing a three-year delay because of technological problems……

Under a hotly-fought multibillion-dollar nuclear power deal struck with Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse, China secured a significant technology transfer agreement in 2007. China has been absorbing and localising the technology to develop the CAP1400 and says it has full intellectual property rights on the model and Hualong 1.

The Beijing office of Westinghouse, which is now controlled by Japan’s Toshiba Corp, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

While technology rights may not stoke tensions, Beijing’s pledge to aid the overseas expansion of Chinese firms risks raising the hackles of competitors if sectors like nuclear are deemed unfairly subsidised…….

an official at the China National Nuclear Corporation, which is leading efforts to export Hualong 1 to Argentina, said China still has “huge amounts of work to do” before it can become a nuclear powerhouse, including rolling out Hualong I at home. The official declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media…….

March 9, 2015 Posted by | China, marketing | Leave a comment

Nuclear projects between China and Pakistan – a weapons proliferation worry

China, Pakistan, and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Recent evidence regarding China’s involvement in Pakistan’s nuclear program should provoke international scrutiny. The Diplomat By Rohan Joshi February 16, 2015 China’s confirmation that it is involved in at least six nuclear power projects in Pakistan underscores long-standing concerns over both the manner in which both China and Pakistan have gone about engaging in nuclear commerce and the lack of transparency around China-Pakistan nuclear cooperation in general. The guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a 48-nation body that regulates the export of civilian nuclear technology, prohibit the export of such technology to states, like Pakistan, that have not adopted full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Yet over the last decade, China has accelerated nuclear commerce with Pakistan while contending that its actions are in compliance with NSG guidelines, an argument that is not entirely convincing.

Today, China is not only a violator of global nuclear non-proliferation norms, but also presents the most convincing evidence of the non-proliferation regime’s ineffectiveness. The pattern of its behavior on the nuclear front as it relates to Pakistan goes well beyond the scope of what may be construed as the state’s legitimate ambition to be a leader in the supply of civilian nuclear technology…….

February 18, 2015 Posted by | China, Pakistan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Despite safety concerns, China resuming construction of nuclear plants 

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, 12 Feb 15 BEIJING–Facing growing energy demands and struggling against air pollution, China this year plans to resume full-scale construction of nuclear power plants for the first time since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011.

The country’s target is to triple the electricity generation capacity of its nuclear power plants to 58 gigawatts by 2020. That figure would approach the level of France, whose current nuclear generation capacity is second only to that of the United States.

But the variety of reactors that China wants to fire up has raised concerns that workers and engineers will be ill-prepared if a disaster strikes………

In November 2014, China’s National Development and Reform Commission applied to the Standing Committee of the State Council for permission to build six nuclear reactors in the coastal area of Shidao Bay and other regions. The six include China’s first domestically produced third-generation reactors and new-type reactors with little actual operating experience.

Some government officials are cautious about approving the application…….

In China, three major state-run operators of nuclear power plants have adopted separate technologies from the United States, France and Russia. The various types of reactors and technologies used in China have sparked concerns about safety at the nuclear plants.

In addition, workers at nuclear plants in China have had little experience in dealing with emergencies. Critics also say that the nurturing of nuclear engineers in the country is not keeping pace with the rapid increase in the number of nuclear reactors.

(This article was written by Nozomu Hayashi and Tokuhiko Saito.)

February 13, 2015 Posted by | China, safety | Leave a comment

China organising itself to market nuclear reactors to other countries

Buy-China-nukes-1China nuclear power firms to merge in bid to boost global clout By Pete Sweeney and Charlie Zhu Feb 4 (Reuters) – China Power Investment Corp is merging with the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp, as Beijing drives consolidation in its rapidly expanding nuclear power sector with the aim of eventually exporting reactors.

The Chinese power producer currently controls about a tenth of China’s nuclear power market, while the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp was formed in 2007 to handle nuclear technology transferred from U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co.

A merger between the two would create a firm with total assets of more than 600 billionyuan ($96 billion), industry experts estimate.

“The merger will help them expand in China, and the overseas market in the long run,” said Francois Morin, Beijing-based China director of World Nuclear Association……..

China, which now primarily provides financing and construction services to nuclear power projects overseas, is expected by some experts to start exporting reactors after 2020 and become a major exporter by 2030 when it has fully digested foreign technology and developed its domestic industry.

The global nuclear market is currently dominated by firms such as France’s Areva, Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corp and Japan’s Toshiba Corp, which controls Westinghouse………Westinghouse Electric Co has already handed over most of the intellectual property for its AP1000 reactor design to the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp……..

February 6, 2015 Posted by | China, marketing | Leave a comment

China’s role in the nuclear marketing frenzy

Buy-China-nukes-1Chinese nuclear firms urged to boost presence overseas South China Morning Post 16 Jan 15  China will push its big nuclear firms to improve their competitiveness and boost their presence overseas as it bids to become one of the world’s dominant nuclear energy powers, Premier Li Keqiang said.

“To continue the struggle to become a strong nuclear energy power, China must comprehensively raise the industry’s competitive advantages, promote nuclear power equipment overseas…..

the country’s two biggest state nuclear companies, China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) and China General Nuclear Corp (CGN), have agreed to invest in Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear project.

Wang Zhongtang, the chief engineer at State Nuclear Power Technology Corp, said China was also well on its way to securing projects in Turkey and South Africa.

China has been making steady progress on its own third-generation reactors, including the Hualong I, jointly developed by CNNC and CGN for the purpose of winning overseas projects.

Zheng Hua, a deputy chief engineer with CGN’s reactor design unit, said last month that China hoped to develop Hualong I reactors in Britain, building on the agreement to invest in Hinkley Point.

China was also considering a plan to merge CNNC and CGN in order to pool their resources and improve their competitiveness overseas, sources said late last year.

January 17, 2015 Posted by | China, marketing | Leave a comment

China well up in the throng to market nuclear technology to other countries

fighters-marketing-1flag-ChinaChina ready to sell nuclear fuel for NPPs in Ukraine and Eastern Europe — CNNC source January 16, 15 Ukrainian energy sector workers are facing technical problems with American nuclear fuel loading into the Soviet-type reactors BEIJING, January 16. /TASS/. China is ready to sell fuel for nuclear power plants in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, a China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) source told TASS on Friday on the sidelines of the World Nuclear Spotlight forum.

According to the source, Chinese companies intend to sell the fuel to the countries that operate various types of Soviet-and Russian-made NPPs. Aside from Ukraine, China is viewing the possibility of exporting nuclear fuel to Hungary and Romania.

The source said Ukrainian energy sector workers are facing technical problems with American nuclear fuel loading into the Soviet-type reactors.

At the moment China is actively buying uranium mines with a view to exporting uranium to other countries in the foreseeable future. Asked about Russia’s possible claims to the Chinese manufacturers of nuclear fuel, he said that “there are no special restrictions.” “Despite the related agreements, the Russian side is unlikely to stop the supplies,” said the CNNC representative.

Russia and China have been actively developing co-operation in the nuclear sphere for many years. For example, State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom and CNNC signed a protocol to launch the discussion of possible formats of co-operation in the sphere of construction of nuclear power plants in third countries.

January 17, 2015 Posted by | China, marketing | | Leave a comment

China’s nuclear power delay – problems with its new Westinghouse Advanced Reactor

Buy-US-nukesflag-ChinaChina’s First Advanced Nuclear Reactor Faces More Delays Start-Up Now Unlikely Until 2016 at the Earliest WSJ By  CHUIN-WEI YAP And BRIAN SPEGELE Jan. 15, 2015 BEIJING—China’s ambitions to be a leader in nuclear technology have been dealt a fresh blow, as construction of its most advanced reactor is facing a new delay.

The project—which China is developing with Westinghouse Electric Co. of the U.S.—faces new development problems and now isn’t expected to start up until 2016 at the earliest, the chief engineer at China’s state-owned reactor technology company said Thursday.

“We discovered some new problems during tests so we need to delay it more until next year,” Wang Zhongtang, chief engineer of China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corp., said on the sidelines of an industry conference. Mr. Wang didn’t specify the nature of the latest problems found at ongoing trials for the reactor, nor did he provide a more precise time frame for its launch.

The delay is the second for the project, which had been slated to start by the end of 2013. It marks another setback for China’s clean-energy ambitions, as technical hurdles loom over Beijing’s aim to triple its nuclear power capacity by 2020…

….the delays have illustrated shortcomings in China’s nuclear sector, particularly when dealing with immature and first-of-a-kind technologies such as those found in the AP1000 reactor, said Li Ning, a nuclear-industry expert at China’s Xiamen University.

Chinese officials “are certainly very frustrated,” said Mr. Li. “I think they feel Westinghouse oversold the system, oversold the technology, promised more than they could really deliver.”………

China’s ambitions and vast market remain vital for the global nuclear industry. French nuclear engineering firm Areva S.A. , which lost out a key bid in 2007 to Westinghouse to build four reactors for China, is still seeking business there…….

January 16, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, China | Leave a comment

Chna’s revolutionary programme for renewable energy

flag-ChinaChina as a model renewable energy economy By Li Hejun, China New Energy Chamber of Commerce and Hanergy Holding Group  31 Dec 14  Almost 200 governments met in Peru this month to hammer out a first draft of a global deal to cut emissions, ahead of a new round of climate talks next year in Paris. If the world is to arrest climate change, global economies need to embrace renewable energy. Those looking for a model of how this might be done should consider a possibly surprising source: China.

It has been little noticed by the outside world, but in China a technological revolution that will result in huge gains in efficiency and new applications for renewable energy has already begun…….

China’s renewable energy goals are not simply hot air. The country’s leadership recognises that China must break its dependency on coal if it is to satisfy the surging power demands of a growing middle class and an expanding economy without blanketing the country in smog. China’s renewable energy goals are also necessary for the country’s long-term energy security. Neither coal, shale gas nor any other fossil fuel can secure our energy future………

The new goals will trigger a huge investment push towards renewables. The scale of the new generating capacity to be installed in the next decade will reshape China’s renewable energy market, weeding out weak companies as the government gradually phases out subsidies, and driving gains in efficiency and technological innovation as the remaining industry players compete for market share.

I believe that solar will be at the forefront of this technological advance. Solar energy is fast becoming more affordable. The cost for solar power generation is now 50 per cent lower than it was three years ago. China’s cost of solar power generation has fallen to below Rmb1 per kWh and if we continue that trend, I predict that within 3-5 years the generation cost of solar cells will approach that of coal-fired power…………..


January 5, 2015 Posted by | China, renewable | Leave a comment

China’s distributed power grid will revolutionise renewable energy

flag-ChinaChina as a model renewable energy economy By Li Hejun, China New Energy Chamber of Commerce and Hanergy Holding Group  31 Dec 14  “……..Even more exciting than falling costs are the new ways in which China will use and transmit power. China is now intent on developing a distributed power grid that will rely on the interconnection of thousands of rooftop and building-integrated solar installations generating power close to the point of consumption. This is a drastic departure from the current centralised power system that relies on goliath, coal-burning power plants and costly, inefficient power transmission over hundreds, or even thousands of kilometres. This new, smart grid will help eliminate pollution, slash costs, and increase reliability.


In addition to making the distributed grid possible, new forms of solar technology are ushering in an era of mobile energy in which customers can take power with them wherever they go.

At present, around 90 per cent of the world’s solar power output is geared towards first-generation crystalline silicon panels, which for a long time were the most efficient technology available. But traditional silicon panels are hard, opaque and heavy, while thin film solar technology can be can be lightweight, flexible, and translucent, making it ideal for a wide variety of applications, from curved automobile rooftops and building integration to consumer clothing and portable power stations.

In recent years, thin-film technology has caught up with, and even surpassed, crystalline silicon in terms of both conversion efficiency and cost. Furthermore, producing thin-film cells requires just a fraction of the material and energy necessary to make crystalline silicon, conserving resources, cutting costs, and reducing pollution.

In the coming years, technologies will continue to improve, and prices will continue to fall. Two of the most promising technologies now are solar cells made from CIGS (Copper, Indium, Gallium, Selenide) and those from GaAs (Gallium-Arsenide), with maximum conversion efficiencies topping 20 percent, and 30 percent, respectively. As these are further developed and brought to market on a mass scale, solar panels will transform into something capable of being integrated into nearly every fabric, product, and structure at a reasonable cost……..

Li Hejun is Director of the China New Energy Chamber of Commerce, and CEO of multinational clean energy company Hanergy Holding Group.

January 5, 2015 Posted by | China, decentralised | Leave a comment

In response to USA ‘encirclement’ China taking nuclear weapons underwater

China Takes Nuclear Weapons Underwater Where Prying Eyes Can’t See East Asian News and Politics 2 Jan 15  From Bloomberg News China is preparing to arm its stealthiest submarines with nuclear missiles that could reach the U.S., cloaking its arsenal with the invisibility needed to retaliate in the event of an enemy strike.

Fifty years after China carried out its first nuclear test, patrols by the almost impossible-to-detect JIN class submarines armed with nuclear JL–2 ballistic missiles will give President Xi Jinping greater agility to respond to an attack.

The nuclear-powered subs will probably conduct initial patrols with the missiles by the end of this year, “giving China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent,” according to an annual report to Congress submitted in November by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Deploying the vessels will burnish China’s prestige as Xi seeks to end what he calls the “cold war” mentality that resulted in U.S. dominance of Asia-Pacific security. Since coming to power, Xi has increased military spending with a focus on longer-range capacity, including plans to add to the country’s tally of a single aircraft carrier.

“For the first time in history, China’s nuclear arsenal will be invulnerable to a first strike,” said independent strategist Nicolas Giacometti, who has written analysis for The Diplomat and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s the last leap toward China’s assured nuclear-retaliation capability.”…………….

First Use

“We must continue to modernize our nuclear capabilities,” Admiral Harry Harris said Dec. 2 at his nomination hearing to become commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, when asked how the U.S. should respond to China’s build up. Harris said that he considered North Korea, which is developing its own nuclear arsenal, to be the biggest threat to security in Asia.

Analysts don’t expect China to modify its longstanding “no-first-use” nuclear policy that states its weapons will only be used if China comes under nuclear attack.

Having enhanced its nuclear-deterrence capability, China may begin to communicate more about the planned evolution of its nuclear forces, Giacometti said.

“More openness on China’s side might then open up more space for confidence-building measures and lay the ground for future arms control discussions,” he said.

January 2, 2015 Posted by | China, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Global danger as China and India upgrade their ballistic missiles

missile-envyflag-Chinaflag-indiaThe Most Dangerous Nuclear Threat No One Is Talking About Zachary Keck December 19, 2014 While Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs are all the rage these days, the most dangerous nuclear threat facing the world continues to go largely unnoticed.

Namely, China and India are both on the cusp of deploying multiple independently targetable reentry (MIRV) vehicles on their ballistic missiles, a development that is likely to have profound, far-reaching consequences for the region and beyond.

MIRVed missiles carry payloads of several nuclear warheads each capable of being directed at a different set of targets. They are considered extremely destabilizing to the strategic balance primarily because they place a premium on striking first and create a “use em or lose em” nuclear mentality.

Along with being less vulnerable to anti-ballistic missile systems, this is true for two primary reasons. First, and most obviously, a single MIRVed missile can be used to eliminate numerous enemy nuclear sites simultaneously. Thus, theoretically at least, only a small portion of an adversary’s missile force would be necessary to completely eliminate one’s strategic deterrent. Secondly, MIRVed missiles enable countries to use cross-targeting techniques of employing two or more missiles against a single target, which increases the kill probability.

In other words, MIRVs are extremely destabilizing because they make adversary’s nuclear arsenals vulnerable to being wiped out in a surprise first strike. To compensate for this fact, states must come up with innovative ways to secure their deterrent from an enemy first strike. This usually entails increasing the size of one’s arsenal, and further dispersing to make it more difficult for an enemy to conduct a successful first strike. For example, when the U.S. first deployed MIRVed missiles in 1968, the Soviet Union had less than 10,000 nuclear warheads. A decade later, however, it had over 25,000 (of course, the Soviet Union deploying its own MIRVed missiles incentivized expanding the size of its arsenal since more warheads were needed per missile).

With regards to China and India, then, the introduction of MIRVed missiles could have profound consequences of both of their nuclear postures. One of the most remarkable aspects of every nuclear state not named Russia or the United States is they have relied on an extremely small nuclear arsenal to meet their deterrent needs. This is especially true of India and China who have generally maintained minimum deterrence and no-first use doctrines. With the introduction of countervailing MIRVed missiles, however, there will be strong incentives on both sides to vastly increase the size of their arsenals if any to guard against the threat of a first strike by the other side.

Of course, the consequences of China and India acquiring MIRVed missiles would not be limited to those states alone. Most obviously, India’s acquisition of MIRVed missiles would immediately threaten the survivability of Pakistan’s nuclear forces. In the short-term, this will probably result in Islamabad further dispersing its nuclear arsenal, which in general will leave it more vulnerable to Islamist terrorist groups in the country. Over the long-term, Pakistan will feel pressure to expand the size of its arsenal as well as acquire MIRVed capabilities of its own.

The same pressures will be felt in Moscow.Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia has relied on its vast nuclear arsenal to compensate for its relative conventional weakness. In the eyes of Russian leaders, this will only grow more necessary as China continues to modernize its conventional military forces. Currently, Russia holds vastly more nuclear warheads than China, which is a source of relief for Moscow. As China MIRVs its missiles, however, as well as likely builds up the size of its arsenal, Moscow will see its nuclear superiority over Beijing rapidly erode. It can be counted on to respond by abrogating its arms control treaties with the United States, and expanding its own arsenal as well. In such a situation, a U.S. president would come under enormous domestic pressure to meet Russia’s buildup warhead for warhead.

Thus, while the prospect of North Korea and Iran acquiring operationalized nuclear arsenals may be concerning, China and India’s MIRVed missiles present far greater threats to the world.

December 22, 2014 Posted by | China, India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

China’s conventional and nuclear weaponry tend to merge

China: Lines blur between nuclear and conventional warfighting, The Interpreter  19 December 2014 China recently tested its WU-14 hypersonic device, marking its third flight test this year. These tests have elicited analysis for their impact on Beijing’s military capabilities, including their potential to break through missile defences. They merit even closer attention, however, for what they signal about possible shifts in Chinese views on deterrence, transparency and strategic stability.

The WU-14 flights are just the latest installment of Chinese military systems revealed to the world through tests and roll-outs. Other examples in recent memory include China’s anti-satellite test (ASAT) in 2007, its ballistic missile defence (BMD) tests in 2010, 2013 and 2014, as well as its unveiling of the J-20 stealth fighter in 2010. This is not to mention its flight of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in 2013, test of the intercontinental ballistic missile DF-31A in 2014 and recent revelations regarding the DF-41.

The level of sophistication and deployment of many of these systems remains to be seen. Still, these roll-outs indicate that China is shifting from transparency based on intent to one rooted in capabilities.

t first glance, Beijing’s approach towards conventional and nuclear deterrence may appear distinct and static. China’s conventional deterrence is based on war-fighting, counter-force, asymmetry and pre-emption. This is contrasted with its nuclear deterrence posture, which has for decades been founded on non-war-fighting, counter-value, asymmetry and no-first-use. It is often taken for granted that these two deterrence postures are isolated, with their only real point of intersection being asymmetry. Yet, there are indications that China’s conventional and nuclear deterrence are far less independent and fixed than its rhetoric suggests.

This stems from at least five factors:

  1. China’s Second Artillery has been responsible for both its conventional and nuclear missiles since the early 1990s. The potential for crossover between these two domains has only grown since that time, particularly in light of its training of personnel and advances in missile technology in recent years.
  2. China’s conventional and nuclear command and control centres are reportedly co-located. This means that an attack, whether through advanced conventional systems or cyber-attacks, while intending to negate conventional command and control centres, could also threaten China’s nuclear command and control, thus leading to escalation.
  3. China’s system of tunnels leaves gaps in the understanding of its nuclear and conventional forces. While there has been debate about the potential trove of nuclear warheads within China’s Great Wall Engineering project, the issue is less one of quantity than of overall inability to account for location, systems and practices that some Chinese experts maintain verify nuclear posture…………………
The time has come to begin formally expanding strategic dialogues with China to include exchanges and panels devoted to co-mingling of conventional and nuclear capabilities, whether in the domains of land, air, sea, space or cyberspace. Without such exchanges, the gap left from misalignment of Chinese capabilities and posture threatens to increase the risk of miscalculation and to exacerbate strategic mistrust.

December 20, 2014 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment


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