China and Non-Proliferation: Can England Help?

English: This is the latest, authorised versio...

English: This is the latest, authorised version of the RUSI logo. RUSI, the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forging UK-China Consensus on a Strengthened NPT Regime
Andrea Berger and Malcolm Chalmers, eds.

Royal United Services Institute
March 2012

As a nuclear power new to global leadership, China should play a key role in stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The question is what role it will play: team player or enabler of the legion of nuclear wannabees.

At the moment, China is something of a disruptive influence, in part because it sees the issue of non-proliferation through a different cultural and political prism than does the west. But a group of Chinese and British scholars have assembled a study that lays out areas where China and the west agree, and areas where there is actually more common ground than either side realizes.

This is an admirable work and an important one, and given that two of the authors, Shi Yongming and Guo Xiaobing, are members of influential think-tanks in Beijing, there is a chance that these ideas may well take hold in parts of the Chinese government.

We should not be too Pollyannish. In this year of transition, when the PLA is apparently pushing hard for a greater role in foreign affairs, getting China to commit to international norms of behavior is a long shot. But the effort has to start someplace, and the RUSI has done a service by creating a trans-national forum where the discussions on “how” might take place.

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