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An Indian Perspective on China's Nuclear Weapons

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On the emergence of nuclear weapons on the global scene in the 1940s, Mao Zedong—the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party between 1949-76— remarked that they do not change the basic rules of warfare. He asserted that warfare is about winning hearts and minds, suggesting that people decide the outcome of a war, not the possession of nuclear weapons. This thinking was rooted in his conception of ‘People’s War’, wherein he held the view that success in warfare depended on the strength of the people instead of weapons. He opined that the atomic bomb was only a paper tiger used to scare people;1 thereby suggesting that nuclear weapons would not lead to the destruction of humanity but remain an extension of politics. He believed that nuclear weapons would not stop the trend of national liberation or independence and the people’s revolution.

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