According to Chinese government propaganda, it is because of the development and deployment of nuclear weapons that the status of Chinese ex-pats is no longer discriminated against by anyone else. Are there any documents or research that can prove that there is a direct link between the increasing military might of the PRC and the fact there are fewer anti-Chinese riots and discriminatory acts against a Chinese in western bloc nations (US, Canada, Europe in particular) between mid-1960s to 1990s

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    There are (relatively) many anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States, with an increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of these are against Chinese people. So the argument that there is no longer discrimination seems to fail on the surface. Are there fewer than in the past? Sure, and there are also fewer anti-Irish and anti-Italian crimes, but neither of those countries has nuclear weapons. Also, no one believes that China would employ nuclear weapons against countries where Chinese immigrants were being discriminated against, so a deterrent effect seems unlikely.
    – Obie 2.0
    Jun 25 at 3:48
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    There'd be a lot to check in that claim -- for example, we'd want to check that Chinese ex-pats actually are less discriminated against since China's gotten nuclear weapons, then check if there's some appreciable causation.
    – Nat
    Jun 25 at 3:51
  • Maybe the easiest way would be to have some survey of ex-pat discrimination over time vs. when their home-country went nuclear?
    – Nat
    Jun 25 at 3:52
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    @Nat - That seems like an easy way to get confounding variables. Maybe anti-Chinese crimes decreased around the time of the US civil rights movement, which was also around the time China developed nuclear weapons. Or maybe China's increased wealth both enabled military advancement and raised the country's profile enough to combat stereotypes.
    – Obie 2.0
    Jun 25 at 3:53
  • @Obie2.0: If there's an apparent-correlation, then sure, it wouldn't establish causation. Though if there's no correlation, it'd seem helpful. And the hypothesis seems pretty weak, so it might be prone to easy refutation.
    – Nat
    Jun 25 at 3:56

1 Answer 1


As the saying goes, history is an experiment with N=1. (That is, we don't have a second history where China did not have nuclear weapons, to compare. Or a third, and a fourth, and more, to do statistics.) I believe the following is obvious:

  • The status of Chinese expat communities has improved because China is a superpower. One would also have to talk about where. If there is upheaval somewhere in the world, one expects the US government to organize an airlift for their citizens. One expects the EU to try, and to be a little less effective than the US. In parts of the world, China also does things like that.
  • China's status as a superpower is enhanced by nuclear weapons.

What is arguable is just how much of that superpower status is due to the nuclear weapons. China traditionally had a concept of minimal nuclear deterrence, that is enough weapons to make a painful counterstrike, but no attempt to outfight the adversary. That, and a traditional lack of global military reach, reduced the impact of the military on Chinese status.

China has gotten more assertive lately, but mostly not in the nuclear arena. See page 138 of this RAND study.

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