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Changing the Guard? China and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime



China's profile in the nuclear nonproliferation regime is changing at a crucial time. The regime is under considerable internal and external strain as a result of eroding international support and trends in vertical and horizontal nuclear proliferation. While China's nonproliferation agenda and approach differ in some respects from those of other key actors, the gap separating China from the established drivers of efforts to address horizontal nuclear proliferation in terms of the objectives, institutions, and approach of the nonproliferation regime is diminishing, and there is considerable potential for China to contribute to the capacity of the regime to adapt to changing requirements. The Asia-Pacific region features both as the area of greatest nonproliferation concern to China and as the area where proliferation concerns are most likely to spur the further qualitative development of Chinese nonproliferation policy.