Since the early 1990s the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has maintained one of the world’s fastest growing economic rates. At the same time, the idea that the PRC as a rising power represents a source of regional and international instability-the so-called ‘China threat’—has periodically been voiced by observers in the West and among China’s neighbours. Not surprisingly, it remains a controversial issue. Some

critics dismiss the PRC as economically and militarily too weak to pose a challenge to the West.4 Instead of posing a threat to its neighbours and the region, Andrew Nathan and Robert Ross have argued that China remains a vulnerable power, crowded on all sides by powerful rivals and potential foes.5 In any event, China’s long-term prospects to successfully modernise its small and dated strategic nuclear force depend on its success at modernising the country’s economy, infrastructure, technology and human capital. Therefore, China is not likely to pose a challenge to US strategic primacy in the first two decades of the twenty-first century.6