During the 1960s and 1970s, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) publicly endorsed the proliferation of nuclear weapons and refused to adopt international legal obligations regulating nuclear exports. Nevertheless, evidence indicates that between 1956 and 1976, at a time when China publicly supported nuclear proliferation, it also refused to provide nuclear and missile technology to other nations. Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, as China began to integrate itself into the nuclear non-proliferation (NNP) regime, it simultaneously began to engage in the illicit transfer of nuclear and missile technology. My research aims to answer two questions: (1) Why has China’s policy on engagement in the NNP regime displayed a discrepancy between its rhetoric and behavior? and (2) Why did China engage the NNP regime when it did?