A Chinese state-run news outlets, Global Times, published a response on May 29 to rumors that China would begin sending nuclear-armed submarines for patrols in the Pacific Ocean. While it notes the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has made no official announcements on the patrols, it states that it’s time for the People Liberation Army to send “nuclear submarines into the depth of the Pacific Ocean for regular patrols.”
The report argues that the CCP has a “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons, and because of this, its nuclear ambitions are benign. The problem is that China’s “no first use” policy is little more than a widely-parroted lie.
“With regard to ‘no first use,’ a careful look at the Chinese wording of China’s ‘no first use’ policy reveals that it commits them to nothing,” stated Mark Schneider, a senior analyst with the National Institute for Public Policy, during a congressional hearing in March 2012.
While the CCP’s policy suggests it would not use nuclear weapons unless another country used them first, its actual policy is that it could use nuclear weapons to counter regular military attacks as well.
Schneider noted a report from Kyodo News Agency, which obtained classified Chinese military documents stating China “will adjust the nuclear threat policy if a nuclear missile-possessing country carries out a series of air strikes against key strategic targets in our country with absolutely superior conventional weapons…”
He also notes that in 2000, the CCP “adopted a nuclear doctrine which allowed for ‘a preemptive strike strategy,'” to use “its tactical nuclear weapons in regional wars if necessary.”
The use of pre-emptive strikes is still a key element in Chinese military writings, and as Michael Pillsbury notes in his book, “The Hundred-Year Marathon,” this concept is at the heart of its “Assassin’s Mace” strategy, which the CCP has designed to defeat technologically superior opponents such as the United States. The strategy includes the use of high altitude EMP (HEMP) attacks, which would leverage the EMP field generated by nuclear weapons to destroy communication and control systems of a targeted country.