The politics of nuclear commemoration in Asia: The China case

Event details


Date & time

Thursday 05 August 2021




Dr Nicola Leveringhaus


Bell School Marketing Team

In the study of China’s foreign affairs, historians like to suggest that the past is always present. A ‘Century of Humiliation’ in the nineteenth century or fighting the Japanese in the 1930s and 1940s are often referenced. Yet another historic development, namely China’s development of nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 1960s, is often absent from this assessment.

In contrast to many other nuclear weapons states, China has largely been quiet about its nuclear past. Only in the last years of former leader Hu Jintao (2003-2012) and now the current leader, Xi Jinping (2013-) has China started to commemorate its nuclear weapons development more seriously.

This paper sets out to understand both the nature and timing of this commemoration within China but also the wider implications of nuclear commemoration for regional and international security. Ultimately, under Xi Jinping, China’s nuclear past is finally becoming present.

Dr Nicola Leveringhaus is Lecturer in East Asian Security and International Relations at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. Dr Leveringhaus specialises in nuclear weapons issues in Northeast Asia, especially related to China. She has lectured at Sheffield University (2015-16) and was a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2012-15) at the University of Oxford. She has been a Senior Visiting Scholar at Tsinghua University; and a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. She holds an MPhil in Modern Chinese Studies and DPhil in International Relations from St. Antony’s College, Oxford. Her second book China and Global Nuclear Order, from Estrangement to Active Engagement was nominated for the 2017 ECPR Hedley Bull Prize.

This seminar is the sixth of the Women in Asia-Pacific Security Research Seminar Series 2020-21, jointly supported by the Graduate Research & Development Network for Asian Security (GRADNAS) and the ANU Gender Institute. This seminar series showcases the cutting-edge academic research of women in the fields of Asia-Pacific security broadly-defined, and serves as an international platform for strengthening academic exchange, feedback, and mentorship. For more information, contact the Series Convenor, Professor Evelyn Goh

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