When the Chinese leaders decided some time in the mid-1950s to embark on a program to develop and produce nuclear weapons and strategic missile delivery systems, they may have had no very clear idea of just how they would employ these systems. They may not have developed much doctrine beyond the conviction that the possession of such weapons was essential if China were to join the ranks of the leading military powers.
The Chinese command and control procedures for strategic offensive weapons are still in the formative stages since these weapons are just now reaching operational status. There are indications that a separate organization has been formed under the Ministry of National Defense as part of the Strategic Operational Missile Authority. This new organization, the 2nd Artillery Corps, was first identified in 1967, and since that time very little has been learned of its composition and mission. Three SSM missile test sites have been identified in China with the Shuangchengtzu Missile Test Center (SCTMTC) acting as the main center. The other two sites are the Wuchai and Chingyu SSM complexes. Other strategic nuclear delivery systems are virtually non-existent at this time with the exception of a few TU-16 medium range (1650 nm) bombers. Appendix 1 depicts the organizational structure of the PRC strategic missile force. The command channel from the strategic operational
missile force authority to the missile test center and then the associated sites makes up the Special Weapons Associated Military Mainline Group. A separate communications network exists for R&D functions. To date, the Military Mainline net has passed very little radio traffic directly associated with launch activities, and it is believed that the more important traffic is routed via landline. The R&D net is exploitable, however, and does lend some insight to the missile force capability. Since the PRC nuclear force is just emerging, very little change in their command and control policy or strategy has been noted as a result of international incidents or changes in strategy of other nuclear powers. Perhaps the only exception is that shortly after the Ussuri incident, China's nuclear machinery was set in motion at a more rapid pace, however, no strategic nuclear deployments or command and control changes were noted. The Chinese have stated that their nuclear doctrine is a firm no-first-use policy. In the light of the overwhelming nuclear superiority of the US and USSR, this is probably a realistic statement of intent at this time. It is highly unlikely that Chinese doctrine provides for initiating the use of nuclear weapons against its Asian neighbors. Considering China's superior strength in conventional forces, nuclear strikes against its Asian neighbors would seem unnecessary, would entail great political costs, and would risk retaliation from one of the superpowers. Initiating a nuclear attack on the US or
USSR would invite the elimination of China as an
industrial and military power.