It is worth noting that several generations of Chinese political and military leaders have guaranteed that China would never use its nuclear weapons as a first resort. Indeed, for a long time the Chinese stuck by this policy. However, when the GLA detonated a stolen nuclear warhead during the PRC's 70th anniversary parade in 2019, the surviving elements of the Chinese leadership declared that the terrorists had exploited the 'No First Use' policy and thus legitimized nuclear retaliation.
The first active deployment of the Chinese nuclear arsenal was ordered by General Tsing Shi Tao during the decisive battle of Bishkek, the GLA-controlled capital of Aldastan. Lower yield weapons would continue to be used liberally throughout the rest of the war. Most controversially, the People's Liberation Army also employed one warhead to destroy the remains of the USEUCOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, after the base had fallen to the GLA.
The attack was met by a very negative reaction from the European Union as well as the international community. As a result, the Chinese leadership forbade the use of additional warheads and ordered its troops to use smaller, allegedly 'cleaner' neutron weapons instead. It is estimated that the Chinese liberation of the occupied German cities caused just as much collateral damage as the actual GLA insurrection.
While a disturbing variety of tactical nuclear weapons of various yields and sizes were employed against the GLA, from the shells employed by Nuke Cannons to low yield atomic bombs carried and dropped by Helix helicopters, the most feared of these was undoubtedly the Dong Feng DF-21 ballistic missile.
Introduced in the year 2011 and famed as an "aircraft carrier killer" designed to challenge US naval capabilities in the Pacific, the DF-21 is a silo-based missile that is extremely fast, accurate and virtually impossible to shoot down. Even now, many decades after the end of the war against the GLA, the DF-21 remains in service with the People's Liberation Army, as a key part of its tactical nuclear arsenal.
In order to facilitate easier set up and maintenance, DF-21s are housed, assembled and fueled inside mostly above ground missile silos, with only the nuclear warheads being stored underground for protection. Despite the advantages, such an arrangement is less well protected than housing the missiles almost entirely underground, even though the silo housing the missile is heavily armored to allow it to withstand multiple air and artillery strikes.
Though nothing compared to the PLA's strategic nuclear weapons, the tactical nuclear warhead employed by the DF-21 is nevertheless a devastating weapon. Upon detonation, the warhead releases massive shockwaves, destroying structures and units caught in the blast radius. The radiation that lingers behind afterwards, though fading away relatively quickly compared to other nuclear weapons, is still highly lethal to infantry, and can even cause significant problems for lightly armored vehicles.