Experts Say

Why China Would Want to Offer Extended Deterrence to North Korea


December 20, 2017
By Philip Bobbitt

At present, the People’s Republic of China has a “central deterrence” relationship with the United States. That is, the Chinese nuclear arsenal, which includes nuclear warheads that can be launched by missiles from submarines, threatens the United States with retaliatory attacks on the American homeland as a way of preventing a U.S. strike on the Chinese homeland. “Extended deterrence,” by contrast, describes the protection the U.S. gives to allies like South Korea and Japan: we undertake to retaliate on their behalf against any state that attacks them and this includes a nuclear threat against nuclear-armed states like China, Russia and North Korea. Of course, this means that the U.S. is willing to risk nuclear attacks on the American homeland, in retaliation for executing such a guarantee.
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