Nuclear Deterrence in Northeast Asia and China’s Security Interests

Miguel V. Hermo

University of the Philippines Diliman

Vol. 16 (2022): 94-122 | Download PDF


Nuclear deterrence is the perspective that a state’s acquisition of the capability to utilize nuclear weapons as retaliation will dissuade an adversary from attacking it. This essay problematizes how nuclear deterrence in Northeast Asia affects China’s security interests. Using descriptive research, this study examines the nuclear asymmetry between China and the United States and three cases of nuclear deterrence in Northeast Asia: China-US tensions over Taiwan, North Korea’s nuclear capability, and Japan’s possession of weaponizable plutonium; and closes with a brief note on conflict over the South China Sea. This study contends that nuclear deterrence poses serious concerns to China because of the tactical, economic, and political ramifications of sustained nuclear arms races. Lastly, despite the outcomes of a potential China-US conflict escalating, China may find it beneficial to retain its nuclear strategic environment.


Nuclear deterrence, China-US, Japan, North Korea, Taiwan, security