Watch the Video: The U.S., China and Nuclear Deterrence in the Hypersonic Era

(Source: ChinaMil)

On December 1, The Jamestown Foundation held a webinar on The U.S., China and Nuclear Deterrence in the Hypersonic Era featuring Bates Gill, Professor of Asia-Pacific Security Studies and Head of the Department of Security Studies and Criminology, Macquarie University, and David Logan, Ph.D. Candidate in Security Studies, Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon released its annual China Military Power Report to Congress. The report details the People’s Republic of China’s rapid progress in modernizing, diversifying and expanding its nuclear arsenal, and observes that China may already have a nascent nuclear triad. These revelations follow China’s successful tests of hypersonic weapon systems this summer. For many observers, these developments denote a departure from Beijing’s longstanding approach to nuclear weapons, which was predicated on a “no-first use policy” and maintenance of a small arsenal to achieve minimal deterrence through assured retaliation.

As China and Russia undertake rapid nuclear modernization and develop new strategic delivery systems, the U.S. is also developing its own advanced hypersonic weaponry. At the same time, the Biden administration, which is currently undertaking a nuclear posture review that will be released in early 2022, has stated it seeks to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national strategy”, but will seek to do so in a way that still ensures the U.S. “strategic deterrent remains safe, secure, and effective and that our extended deterrence commitments to our allies remain strong and credible.” The administration has also requested continued funding for ongoing nuclear modernization programs, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and other senior defense officials have expressed their support for maintaining a full nuclear triad.

In February, the Biden administration extended the New START arms control agreement with Russia, which provides a framework for reducing, limiting, and monitoring nuclear warheads and their strategic delivery systems. Under Biden, the U.S. has continued the Trump administration’s  efforts to engage China in nuclear arms control talks, but has largely been rebuffed by Beijing, which claims it maintains a nuclear arsenal at the minimum level necessary to safeguard its national security. However, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has confirmed that President Biden and PRC President Xi Jinping did agree to “begin to carry forward [a] discussion on strategic stability” at their November 15 virtual summit.


Bates Gill
Professor of Asia-Pacific Security Studies and Head of the Department of Security Studies and Criminology, Macquarie University; Senior Associate Fellow, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)

David Logan
Ph.D. Candidate in Security Studies, Princeton University School of Public
and International Affairs; Fellow, Princeton’s Center for International Security Studies (CISS); Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


John S. Van Oudenaren
Editor-in-Chief, China Brief; China Program Manager, The Jamestown Foundation

Participant Biographies 

Bates Gill is Professor of Asia-Pacific Security Studies at Macquarie University and ​a Senior Associate Fellow with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London. He is also the inaugural Scholar-in-Residence for 2020–21 with the Asia Society Australia.

Dr. Gill is an internationally respected scholar and policy expert, with a 30-year career as a researcher, author, advisor and board member, focusing on Chinese and Asian politics, foreign policy and security.

He began work in Australia in 2012 as Chief Executive Officer of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and he later served as Professor of Asia-Pacific Strategic Studies at Australian National University.  He was previously Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) (2007–12), an independent think tank recognized as one of the world’s top ten research institutes in international affairs. In August and September 2016, he held the Kippenberger Chair in Strategic Studies at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.

Before joining SIPRI, Dr. Gill held the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC (2002–07) and previously served as a Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies and inaugural Director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution (1998–02). He also held the Fei Yiming Professorship at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Chinese and American Studies, Nanjing, China.

Among his more than 200 publications, he is author, co-author, or co-editor of seven books, most recently, China Matters: Getting it Right for Australia, which was co-authored with Linda Jakobson and published in 2017.

Dr. Gill serves on the Board of Governors of the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (Singapore) and is a member of the International Board of Advisors for the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies.  He is on the Editorial Board of China Quarterly, Journal of Contemporary China, and Security Challenges.

Dr. Gill received his PhD in Foreign Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia. In 2013, he received the Royal Order of the Commander of the Polar Star, the highest award bestowed on foreigners by the Swedish monarch.

David Logan is a PhD Candidate in Security Studies at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs and a Fellow in Princeton’s Center for International Security Studies (CISS), and a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Security Studies Program. Mr. Logan’s principal research interests lie in nuclear strategy, arms control and nonproliferation, strategic stability, extended deterrence, and the U.S.-China security relationship.

Mr. Logan has conducted research for the Brookings Institution, the Arms Control Association, the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, and the National Defense University’s Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at Fort McNair in Washington, DC. His research has been published in Journal of Strategic Studies, Asian Security, and The Nonproliferation Review. He has also written articles on Indo-Pacific security issues for Foreign Affairs, Joint Force Quarterly, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, War on the Rocks, and The National Interest.

Mr. Logan holds an MPA and an MA in Public Affairs from Princeton University and a BA in Political Science from Grinnell College. Besides English, he conducts research in Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and Italian.