Elite Stability and Nuclear Doctrine Formulation, 1978–1989

  • Paolo Rosa


This chapter analyses the development of China’s nuclear doctrine during the period from 1978 to 1989. These years were characterised by a more relaxed international situation, although Chinese leaders were still worried about the implications of particular ominous events for national security: the disastrous Vietnam War of 1979, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and the launching of the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) by the Reagan Administration. Domestically, the post-Maoist period was characterised by a form of soft factionalism, a return to a “normal” pattern of politics, and greater elite stability. The strategic debate centred on the evolution of the concept of the “People’s War” into that of the “People’s War under modern conditions”. The nuclear doctrine was characterised by a more articulated elaboration of targeting and employment concepts and included ideas about war-fighting and tactical nuclear weapons.


Elite stability Military modernization War-fighting 


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TrentoTrentoItaly

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