Even as Chinese President Xi Jinping strides into the final Nuclear Security Summit today in Washington, D.C., he is considering a dangerous policy change: The Chinese military is asking to put its nuclear missiles on hair-trigger alert so they can be launched immediately upon detecting an incoming attack. President Barack Obama should encourage his counterpart to carefully consider such a change, because it would dramatically increase the risk of an accidental or mistaken nuclear launch against the United States or its allies.

China’s previous political leaders believed prudence demanded they wait and ride out a nuclear attack—should it come—before retaliating later at a time and place of their choosing. Their strategic patience was celebrated, at home and abroad, as a responsible expression of confidence that would discourage any enemy, including the United States, from attacking China with nuclear weapons in the first place. FULL REPORT