Chinese perspectives of the early atomic age, before the emergence of the People's Republic of China in 1949, remain poorly understood, especially within the International Relations field. Historical accounts have largely drawn from American, British and Soviet sources. This research, based on a British Academy Research Grant (SG171630), starts in 1945, when atomic weapons were first used by the United States against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. Based on a survey of newspapers and archival material from the United States, United Kingdom, China and Taiwan, this project considers how closely both sides of the Chinese civil war – Communist and Nationalist – followed the US atomic bombings, and the extent to which they engaged afterwards with the superpowers, as well as other international actors, on this subject. It also examines whether both sides saw these weapons as technological game-changers, ushering in a ‘nuclear revolution’ in military affairs.
Nicola Leveringhaus is Lecturer in East Asian Security and International Relations in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London.