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Chinese Sale of Nuclear Technology

A strong majority favors the US taking a strong stand against China's sale of nuclear weapons technology, including imposing economic sanctions.

A major controversy in the US-China relationship has centered around US frustration with China's sales of nuclear weapons technology to aspiring nuclear powers. A very strong majority supports the US taking a strong stand on this issue. A 1997 Gallup poll found that 72% believed it important for the US to "take a strong stand" on "China's sale of nuclear weapons technology internationally." [1]

An even stronger majority has supported limiting trade with China as a way of opposing its sale of nuclear weapons technology. An October 1999 PIPA poll that did mention the arguments against economic sanctions nonetheless found 83% favoring limiting trade with China because it "has sold components for nuclear weapons and missiles to other countries." [2]

However another question that posed the counterargument that economic engagement is the best way "of persuading China to improve its record on human rights and weapons sales" elicited a more modest majority in support for sanctions. In an NBC/WSJ poll taken in March 1997 respondents were given two options and asked to choose the better of two "policy approaches." Fifty-two percent chose "A policy that imposes economic sanctions until China improves its record on human rights and weapon sales," while 39% chose "A policy that pursues close economic and political cooperation in the hopes of persuading China to improve its record on human rights and weapons sales." [3]



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Recent Data Updates
China - August 2008 (PDF)