Nuclear experts were surprised.
China Shot Second
The Chinese government recently published a white paper outlining the country's nuclear strategy. In the paper, published online last week, the Chinese military outlined how it uses nuclear weapons as a deterrent but clarified that it would never be the one to strike first — and that it would never use nuclear weapons to threaten or attack non-nuclear powers under any circumstances.
Comparatively, the U.S. refuses to stick to a similar "no first use" policy. National Interest reports that the Pentagon finds being ambiguous about its nuclear strategies a more effective strategy when it comes to asserting military dominance around the world.
In response, China hasn't made its own policies more aggressive. Instead, it's clarified that its own small nuclear arsenal is capable of returning fire on any country that might attack it first.
"China is always committed to a nuclear policy of no first use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances," reads the white paper, "and not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones unconditionally."
READ MORE: China: We Won't Use Nuclear Weapons First in a War [National Interest]