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This paper examines the various factors that have shaped, and continue to mould, the contemporary nuclear environment of the People's Republic of China. First and foremost, the discussion confronts, and attempts to clarify, some persistent obstacles that confound analyses of China's nuclear posture, while specifically, it addresses those indigenous and external dynamics that determine, constrain and threaten China's nuclear capabilities and its likely posture. It emerges that China's nuclear posture is most credible at a regional level, particularly in northeast Asia. However, such credibility has come under scrutiny because the United States recently decided to hasten the development of Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) within the northeast Asian theatre. The possible deployment of BMD, combined with other political factors, suggests that the time is ripe to reassess nuclear, missile and BMD strategies in the region.