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Lecture | Sheng Peng (Vienna): China and the First Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Negotiation, 1977-1980

May 04, 2023 | 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM

This presentation is a case study on the secret Comprehensive Test Ban negotiation between the Carter administration and Deng Xiaoping, revealing China’s disruptive role in America’s Cold War nuclear nonproliferation effort, and how U.S.-Soviet tensions again served China’s purposes in technological acquisition. American nonproliferation officials, such as Disarmament Ambassador Gerard C. Smith and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, were interested in using the Comprehensive Test Ban, negotiated among the United States, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union to introduce China to the rule-based liberal international order.

Instead, Deng Xiaoping saw the negotiation as unfair to a second-rate nuclear power like China and teamed up with like-minded officials in France to actively sabotage the negotiation ¬– which was already plagued by intrigues and objections by each participant nation’s own military-industrial complex. In the end, China not only got away with attacking the Comprehensive Ban, but managed to convince the anti-Soviet officials in the Carter Administration to offer the Chinese nuclear testing technologies as a part of the rapidly expanding US-China military cooperation against the Soviet Union that was unique to this later stage of the Cold War.


Sheng Peng is a post-doctoral fellow at the Research Center for the History of Transformations, University Vienna. His current research focuses on the impact of western economic thoughts on the two simultaneous marketization debates in PRC in Chinese Mainland and ROC in Taiwan. Previously he finished a PhD at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, where he lectured modern history and researched history of technology transfer from NATO countries to China during the Cold War. Sheng also holds a MA degree in International Affairs with a focus on American foreign policy from George Washington University and studied International Relations, Economics, and Music at Drake University as an undergraduate student. In 2018 Sheng was a visiting scholar at the Moscow Higher School of Economics, where he researched Soviet sinologists under Brezhnev. https://www.recet.at/our-team/detail/sheng-peng

Time & Location

May 04, 2023 | 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM

Conference Room (2nd floor)
Edwin-Redslob-Str. 29
14195 Berlin (Dahlem)

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