China Leadership Monitor

Looking Beyond the Nuclear Bluster: Recent Progress and Remaining Problems in PRC Security Policy

Saturday, July 30, 2005

At a July press conference, PLA Major General Zhu Chenghu appeared to threaten nuclear first strikes on the United States in retaliation for American intervention in the Taiwan Strait. Predictably, General Zhu's remarks received tremendous attention in Washington and elsewhere. In addition, the Pentagon's recently released annual report on Chinese military power evoked a harsh and excessive reaction in Beijing. Unfortunately, therefore, when many Americans reflect on the past few months of U.S.-China security relations, they will think of the specter of nuclear exchanges. In general, however, Beijing's diplomacy on security issues over the same period has improved, a more basic trend that should not be overshadowed by General Zhu's bluster and Beijing's heated response to the Pentagon report.