1) Hu stimulated the largest-scale public debate in China's history about its nuclear policy. Among the general public, he received massive support. Not a surprise, given the overwhelming public concern of US hostility. Expert community is more skeptical, but no consensus view.
2) Overall, I was pleased to see more counterarguments & greater diversity of views from the pubic than expected, giving me hope that open public debate in China, if allowed to develop & deepen, can contribute to a more rational/reasonable policy.
3) Chinese experts need to speak up in the debate, but it is really hard. I wrote a piece in Chinese, but had to remove lots of key contents/arguments, including citations of public foreign research on estimate of China's nuclear arsenal, before the piece could go public.
4) To help explain facts and put things in perspective is so challenging. Serious nuclear experts are at a huge disadvantage in this debate. They usually don't have massive followers on social media. To use public media, they have to put on a straightjacket first.
5) Many colleagues advised me against raising the economic costs of nuclear expansion; they think it would expose my piece to public attacks. Surprised to see the public so willing to throw much more money on bigger nukes, even in era of pandemic & historical economic recession.
6) It reveals how deeply convinced Chinese people are about US' hostile intention. We need to work on this perception gap. The current US strategy to force China into arms control by threatening to build up US capability, will likely worsen the problem & accelerate an arms race.
Clarification: by "raising the economic costs" I meant "bringing up the issue of the economic costs."
7) The debate also reveals something potentially important about China's nuclear rapid response capability. Retired Rocket Force Sr. Col Yang Chengjun wrote China's nuclear forces can now respond in minutes & can carry out Launch On Warning retaliation before enemy nukes explode.
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