Tong Zhao

Senior Fellow
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Tong Zhao is a senior fellow in Carnegie’s Nuclear Policy Program.


PhD, Science, Technology, and International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology
MA, International Relations, Tsinghua University
BS, Physics, Tsinghua University


English; Mandarin Chinese


Tong Zhao is a senior fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, based in Beijing. His research focuses on strategic security issues, such as nuclear weapons policy, deterrence, arms control, nonproliferation, missile defense, hypersonic weapons, and China’s security and foreign policy.

He serves on the board of directors of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and on the advisory board of the Missile Dialogue Initiative. Zhao is also an associate editor of Science & Global Security and is a member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials. Previously he was a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at Harvard University, a nonresident WSD-Handa Fellow at Pacific Forum, and worked for the Office of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Government of Beijing Municipality.

He holds a PhD in science, technology, and international affairs from Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as an MA in international relations and a BS in physics from Tsinghua University. He is the author of “Tides of Change: China’s Nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarines and Strategic Stability” and “Narrowing the U.S.-China Gap on Missile Defense: How to Help Forestall a Nuclear Arms Race.”

  • Asian Security December 20, 2021
    China and the International Debate on No First Use of Nuclear Weapons

    China is the only nuclear-armed country in the world that has an unconditional No First Use (NFU) of nuclear weapons policy. China’s practice of this policy and its impact on international security have important implications for the international debate around NFU and inform other countries’ potential consideration of NFU.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs December 16, 2021
    Will More States Acquire Nuclear Weapons?

    A broad pool of experts offer their thoughts on the risk of expanding nuclear weapons capabilities.

  • Arms Control Today December 2, 2021
    China’s Strategic Arsenal: Worldview, Doctrine, and Systems

    China’s reported construction of more than 200 new missile silos and the testing of an orbital hypersonic glider drew most of the international attention, but there may be more than meets the eye.

  • Commentary December 1, 2021
    Podcast: China’s Nuclear Expansion

    What are the driving forces and goals behind China’s nuclear buildup? Should the ongoing U.S.-Russian arms control talks take into account Chinese progress? And does China’s refusal to take part in those talks render them meaningless?

  • Op-Ed The New York Times November 15, 2021
    Why Is China Building Up Its Nuclear Arsenal?

    President Xi Jinping’s March order to further “accelerate the construction of advanced strategic deterrent” systems most likely reflects his deepening concern that China’s inferior nuclear capability could embolden U.S. hostility and undermine Beijing’s rise.

  • Op-Ed Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists November 12, 2021
    China’s Silence on Nuclear Arms Buildup Fuels Speculation on Motives

    Chinese decision makers have never elaborated in public about speeding up China’s traditionally modest nuclear modernization program. But their occasionally reported public statements reveal how their thinking has evolved.

  • Op-Ed Politico August 19, 2021
    U.S. Commitment to Taiwan Under Scrutiny After Afghanistan’s Fall

    The fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban may not have immediate implications for the credibility of U.S. commitment to Taiwan. But the Afghan National Army’s rapid collapse and the American military’s hasty withdrawal highlight important facts for decision makers in Washington, Taipei and Beijing.

  • The Korean Journal on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Energy May 27, 2021
    Simple Steps for Nuclear Weapon States to Honor Their Disarmament Commitments

    The lack of progress on global nuclear disarmament and arms control casts a shadow over the upcoming tenth review conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

  • United States Institute of Peace April 26, 2021
    Enhancing U.S.-China Strategic Stability in an Era of Strategic Competition: U.S. and Chinese Perspectives

    As strategic competition between the United States and China intensifies, preventing a destabilizing arms race and lowering the risk of military, especially nuclear, confrontation is critical.

  • United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research January 29, 2021
    Some Thoughts on the Logic of Strategic Arms Control: Three Perspectives

    Who are the proponents of strategic arms control? Why do they advocate it? What are their major assumptions? What are the important uncertainties of arms control? This paper seeks to answer these questions.

  • CGTN January 16, 2018
    False Ballistic Missile Alert in Hawaii

    The reason why the false ballistic missile alert in Hawaii was such an issue is precisely because it took place against a background of very high tensions.


Areas of Expertise

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