Cover of China
China's Strategic Seapower
The Politics of Force Modernization in the Nuclear Age
John Wilson Lewis and Xue Litai


412 pages.

Paperback ISBN: 9780804728041



Using major new documentary sources, this book tells the story of why and how China built its nuclear submarine flotilla and the impact of that development on the nation's politics, technology, industry, and strategy.

About the authors

"This is a landmark work, a pioneering study of China's policy process in weapons development and acquisition. Making excellent use of recent PRC publications on military and Party history, including biographies and autobiographies, it is also informed by interviews with authoritative Chinese officials. This sophisticated 'state of the art' book on Chinese politics should put the United States on notice: fueled by nationalistic aspirations, China is determined to acquire the most advanced military might in the world in as expeditious a fashion as possible."

—Michel Oksenberg, East-West Center

"The authors tell an absorbing and convincing tale of how this technologically backward and politically turbulent country managed to create workable advanced weapon systems."

Foreign Affairs

"This is the second volume by the authors on China'a strategic weaponry—following China Builds the Bomb. . . . These books constitute landmark studies on the topic, and will be standard references for years to come."


"Lewis and Xue have provided us with yet another superb volume . . . another pathfinding examination of the personalities and processes in China's most secretive policy area—national defense."

China Review International

"This is a truly landmark study of the People's Republic of China's policy-making process in nuclear weapons development and acquisition. The authors vividly and explicitly describe how and why China built its nuclear submarine flotilla and, more importantly assess that development's impact on the nation's politics, technology, industry, and strategy."

American Historical Review

"A landmark achievement that unquestionably enhances our understanding of China's naval nuclear strategy. No other study on the topic comes close to matching its authoritative explanation of how that strategy evolved and the barriers it had to overcome."

American Political Science Review

"Any intelligence agency in the world would have been pleased to produce this excellent report on China's nuclear submarine program. It is thoroughly researched, carefully crafted, and meticulously documented; the judgments are prudent. . . . This revealing book belongs on the shelf of everyone who seeks to understand the great leap forward in China's military and, especially, naval power."

Far Eastern Economic Review