Research Analyst Samuel Hickey wrote an op-ed in The Diplomat arguing that engaging China in talks for its accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime could open the way for broader arms control talks.
“The November 15 virtual summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping produced no breakthroughs, but clearly both Washington and Beijing are acutely aware of the risk of an incident that could spiral out of control. Both Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stressed the need to avoid a new Cold War mindset, but the vast disparity in nuclear stockpiles between the two countries and Chinese skepticism will likely keep traditional arms control steps such as bilateral warhead reductions or caps off the table for now.
Engaging China in talks to begin an accession process for the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) could, however, prove a useful entry point into broader arms control talks. China is not an MTCR partner but agreed in 1992 to adhere to MTCR guidelines, although it is questionable if Beijing has followed through.
As opposed to observations that Washington and Beijing are engaged in a zero-sum game, proliferation is a policy concern for both states. Past notions of including Beijing in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty were never taken seriously because the treaty simply does not allow for participation beyond the United States and Russia. However, the necessity of engaging Beijing remains. Arms control dialogues are a forum in which to air disagreements and can evolve to match the strategic situation. A new series of dialogues is needed with China, and ideally, one meeting could snowball into the next.” Read more