US-China Informal Talks on Nuclear Weapons and Taiwan

US-China Informal Talks on Nuclear Weapons and Taiwan

US-China Informal Talks on Nuclear Weapons and Taiwan

In March of this year, after a five-year hiatus, representatives from the United States and China engaged in semi-official discussions concerning nuclear weapons policies, focusing particularly on implications related to Taiwan. This marked a significant resumption of dialogue between the two global powers on a sensitive and critical issue.

The talks were held amid escalating tensions regarding Taiwan, a democratic island nation that China claims as its own territory. Despite Taiwan's rejection of China's sovereignty claims, Beijing has increasingly demonstrated military assertiveness in the region over the past several years.

Key Points from the Meeting

Assurances on Non-use of Nuclear Weapons: Chinese representatives reassured their American counterparts that China has no intention to use nuclear weapons against Taiwan. This stance was conveyed amidst U.S. concerns that China might resort to nuclear threats if faced with a potential conventional conflict over Taiwan.

Track Two Diplomacy: The discussions were categorized as "Track Two" diplomacy, involving former officials and academics from both sides who can engage more openly compared to formal government-to-government negotiations ("Track One").

Participants and Setting: The meeting took place over two days in a Shanghai hotel conference room. The U.S. delegation included six delegates comprising former officials and researchers, while the Chinese delegation consisted of researchers, analysts, and former People's Liberation Army officers.

U.S. Concerns and China's Position

U.S. officials have expressed ongoing concerns over China's military buildup, including a reported increase of more than 20% in its nuclear arsenal between 2021 and 2023. The Pentagon had previously warned that China could consider nuclear weapons use if its regime in Beijing felt threatened by a conventional military defeat in Taiwan.

Future Prospects

Response and Engagement: While the U.S. State Department acknowledged the benefits of Track Two talks, it clarified that the government did not directly participate in the March discussions but was informed about the outcomes.

Formal Diplomatic Channels: Despite previous offers by Washington to engage in formal talks aimed at reducing nuclear risks, China has not yet signaled its readiness for further government-to-government discussions on this matter.


The resumption of U.S.-China talks on nuclear weapons policy regarding Taiwan underscores the complexities and sensitivities surrounding East Asian security dynamics. While some reassurances were made regarding the non-use of nuclear weapons, the broader implications for regional stability and international security remain subjects of ongoing concern and diplomatic engagement.


  1. Pentagon estimates on China's nuclear arsenal growth.
  2. U.S. State Department comments on the benefits of Track Two diplomacy.
  3. Statements from both U.S. and Chinese delegations on their respective positions and assurances regarding nuclear weapons use.

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the recent U.S.-China talks on nuclear weapons policies and their implications for regional security, offering insights into the evolving dynamics between the two nations in the East Asian context.


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