6: forecasting future wars


china's assessment of the future security environment is closely linked to its views of future warfare. This chapter introduces 55 military authors who may be divided into the three schools of thought in China today that analyze likely wars and recommend what types of preparation China should undertake.

where will local wars occur?

Chinese articles and books describe the current "new era" as one of transition in which the new world strategic pattern is in the process of replacing an old one. They predict that regional wars will be a significant part of this process. "If large-scale armed conflicts and local wars happen . . . it can result in drastic changes in critical regional situations and immensely harm the global strategic situation." (569) Where will these wars break out? Several Chinese authors have suggested that the fault lines of future war in the multipolar security environment will not be the same as during the bipolar Soviet-American confrontation. Colonel Xu Weidi of the National Defense University (NDU) predicts that the two great zones of war will be the East Asian littoral (because of territorial disputes) and the Eurasian zone, including Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. (570) At present, half the world's 48 local wars are in Africa.

Shen Qurong, President of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), writes, "The rise of power centers in Asia will not be synchronized, yet the time lag among them will not be so distant. . . . In the next decade, there will exist a variety of possibilities or options for the structure of power in Asia." Shen believes that "unipolar hegemony" will give way to "a traditional balance of multipolar forces" or "ad hoc strategic alignments revolving around key issues or geopolitical pivots." (571) Shen concludes, "While the balance of power will still play an important role, the pursuit of hegemonism will further destabilize the original fragile structure in Asia." (572) Hegemonism runs counter to the Asian reality of the rise of a number of power centers and comes into conflict with the ever-mounting Asian demand to be master of its own house. "It actually puts Washington in confrontation with these multiple forces." Shen criticizes Joseph Nye, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, by quoting him as being unwilling to change from American leadership to having an American role as a "balancer" of power in East Asia.

No matter where wars break out, Chinese authors suggest that one of the main causes of wars will be the struggle for economic resources. As Colonel Liu Mingde states, "The Marxists hold that the conflict of economic interests is the root of war." He explains that the Arab-Israeli dispute "has to do with Israel's heavy reliance on the Jordan River" and that Iran-Iraq war and the Gulf War were about petroleum. Similarly, the civil war in Yugoslavia is a war between "poor" Serbia and the "rich" Slovenia and Croatia. Liu concludes that "competition in Comprehensive National Power has aggravated the scrambling for resources among nations." (573)

A likely area for future wars will be Central Asia, where "abundant natural resources will become the target of a struggle" between the major powers. The United States wants the energy resources, but Russia is unwilling to "drop to the status of a second-rank country" and will resist the United States. Germany and Japan will be "potential competitive opponents" of the United States. The U.S. goal is not only to pursue its economic interests, but also to squeeze Russia out:

The rivalry over the Caspian Sea region's oil and natural gas is part of the U.S.-Russian rivalry over strategic interests and spheres of influence in the Eurasian hinterland. . . .The number of countries involved (in the struggle) will increase. The European Union also regards the Central Asian region as an energy resources base that can replace the Gulf in the future. . . . International forces covet the treasure chest that is Central Asia. (574)

what kind of wars could affect china?

Since 1994, several dozen articles have appeared in the Chinese press and in military journals that purport to discuss China's current and future defense strategy. These articles are not all in agreement. At least three and possibly more schools of thought may be distinguished.

People's War Scenarios

In the first school, authors refer to the enduring validity of Mao's concepts of People's War (renmin zhanzheng). (575) These authors imply that the 21st century may well see the outbreak of another world war, a major invasion of China, or the use of nuclear weapons. This Maoist school of thought is less frequently seen in Chinese military journals than the second school of thought, which may be called "Local War."

Local war is identified by the authors' call for China to prepare not for a protracted People's War with national mobilization, but for a quick, smaller scale "local war under high-tech conditions," or simply Local War (jubu zhanzheng). These authors frequently cite a speech by Deng Xiaoping to the Central Military Commission in 1985 to explain the origins of the concept. Deng's speech flatly decreed that the world would not be seeing a global war or a major nuclear war for "a long time to come." In the decade since that speech, more than 30 conflict scenarios have been spelled out in articles by Chinese analysts from this school of thought, as well as in interviews by the author with Chinese military officers. (576) Local War is not a good translation of what this second school of Chinese analysts has been discussing--unless the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Gulf War can be appropriately labeled local wars. Rather, Local War seems to include a broad range of scenarios, almost any war smaller in scale than a global or a major nuclear war.
RMA Scenarios

The opponent--perhaps the U.S., Russia or Japan--will have advanced weapons, satellites for communications and reconnaissance, stealth aircraft, nuclear weapons, and nanotechnology. Therefore China must:

The third school of thought probably dates only from 1994 and is represented by a few books and perhaps a few dozen articles, although interest in the RMA seemed to increase after the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999. However, its proponents include several generals who occupy (or are recently retired from) high positions in China's most influential military institutions. This third school of thought recommends that China prepare for future warfare along the lines of concepts first discussed by Russian and American authors who forecast a potential revolution in military affairs (RMA), or xin junshi geming. According to one analyst, "The unfolding of the new military revolution worldwide is a prominent feature of the international security situation. . . . [It] involves such fields as military thinking, military strategy, operational doctrine, military organization, and arms development." (577)

Chinese writers in 1995 repeatedly referred to the "third military technical revolution" without actually footnoting the Soviet military journals that in the past decade have been discussing the same subject. The subject itself was not new; it had been discussed earlier in books such as General Mi Zhenyu's Chinese National Defense Concepts, published in 1988. What was new in 1995 in Beijing was the enthusiasm; even the official newspaper, Liberation Army Daily, began to publish almost weekly articles about the military-technical revolution and its implications for China. In October 1995, the official media announced a national conference had been held to discuss the implications of a potential revolution in military affairs.

Soviet military science and its Chinese counterpart explicitly require the use of "scientific" forecasts about the changing nature of future warfare. In other words, it is not optional but mandated by "military science" that strategists must concern themselves with the search for the emergence of "revolutionary" changes in warfare, brought about mainly by technological change, rather than falsely assuming that mere evolutionary trends will continue. (578)

According to the Soviet concept, as applied by the Chinese, "military science" covers not only military operational art but several other specific approaches included within the formal definition of "military art." According to Marshal Ogarkov and Marshal Sokolovskiy in 1968, such studies include "the conditions and factors that determine, at any given historical moment, the nature of a future war." (579)

There seems to be no American counterpart to Chinese "military science" and its related requirement to anticipate military revolutions and to "experiment scientifically" with organizations, exercises, and prototype equipment. Rather, American studies of how military innovation occurs tend to emphasize the somewhat accidental role of the relatively rare individual genius who invents a new concept, pushes a new doctrinal idea, or changes resource allocations together with his organizational allies.

Like the RMA school, the Local War school also borrows Soviet and American concepts. After the Gulf War in 1991, local war authors incorporated many aspects of American strategy into their concept of local war. More than 40 books, published by the Academy of Military Science (AMS) and NDU, drew on examples from the Gulf War in order to illustrate how China's concept of local war should be implemented in the 21st century. Most of this writing focused on how the Chinese military may have to defend itself from an American-style Gulf War offensive action. In a similar fashion, in the last 5 years the main Chinese military newspaper Liberation Army Daily has published several hundred articles attempting to describe local war doctrine and Chinese military exercises designed to cope with a "high-tech enemy." These articles and books leave little doubt that the weapons, equipment, and uniforms that will be possessed by this high-tech enemy will be the forces of the United States or its military allies.

These three schools of authors cannot be easily reconciled. With a limited budget it is hard to prepare for all three types of future warfare. The

neo-Maoist, or People's War, school seems to recommend that China be prepared for a long war of many years at low-level intensity in which space can be traded for time, territory will be surrendered initially, and the population will be mobilized for guerrilla warfare against the invader and in support of the regular Chinese Armed Forces. Local War school authors advocate preparing for a short-warning attack in which the decision will come quickly, with no opportunity to activate the nation for a multiyear People's War. They explicitly describe future local warfare as concluding within a matter of days or weeks, in which there will be no time to mobilize the population; instead, there will be an intense tempo. Success will almost certainly require China to consider pre-emptive strikes against the enemy near or beyond China's borders in order to achieve an "early, decisive victory."

Since the early 1980s, foreign scholars have declared in a series of articles that local war has become the official strategic doctrine of China; these conclusions may have been premature. Not only have the neo-Maoist articles continued to appear, but in interviews conducted by the author, senior Chinese military officers have declared that local war doctrine has not been written for China's Armed Forces, nor has it been formally adopted by the Central Military Commission, at least as of 1995. Dennis Blasko, former Assistant Army Attaché in Beijing, has pointed out that there is no official People's Liberation Army (PLA) doctrine of Local War, in spite of all the articles since 1985:

On two separate occasions in the fall of 1994 and early 1995, a major general and a senior colonel at the AMS (Academy of Military Science in Beijing) denied that what is known in the West as the "PLA's doctrine of Local War" even exists or is anything as formal as the U.S. Army doctrine defined by FM 100-5. . . . Indeed, no formal "Doctrine of Local War" has been formulated or even ordered to be developed by the General Staff Department. . . . While it is possible that these three different officers assigned to the AMS and numerous contributors to Chinese military publications are trying to deceive foreigners about the current state of Chinese military thinking, informal conversations with officers in the field have provided no indication that grass roots level leaders are looking any differently at the future of war either. (580)

This divergence--between published articles and military exercises and a lack of an authoritative declaration that local war is the national strategy--constitutes a major puzzle. Further complicating the confusion, in the last 3 years observers have noted an increase in the attention the press has given to the further development of China's nuclear forces, which does not seem connected to Local War theory. Additionally, a series of books and articles has appeared advocating a Chinese blue water navy, which also seems to have no link to the Local War doctrine. PLA naval authors assert that local war at sea covers two large zones of "active defense." Within the first zone, from the PRC coast out to the "First Island Chain," there are three levels, each with its own naval forces providing a "multilevel in-depth defense at sea:"

Out to 50 miles, which is defended by radar, missiles, and large coastal patrol boats such as missile speedboats and fast gunships, and where laying mines and clearing enemy mines are very important tasks

From 50 to 300 miles from the coast, which is defended by missile destroyers and corvettes, including ship-based helicopters

From the Korean peninsula to the Ryukyu and Spratly Islands, which is defended by submarines with advanced missiles and naval attack planes. (581)

The second island chain the Chinese Navy aspires to patrol extends along a line from the Aleutians through Guam and the Philippines. However, these "island chains" are not discussed by PLA Navy authors who write about the RMA.

As if this were not enough confusion, since 1994 the third RMA school of thought has presented itself vigorously in advocacy pieces that do not directly attack Local War theory but do state that China must exploit a potential future RMA in order to avoid a growing gap in its military capabilities, as compared to America, Russia, and Japan. At least 30 articles have appeared advocating development by China of the capacity to conduct information operations, massive long-range precision strikes, attacks on enemy satellites in space, and efforts to paralyze an enemy's command and control system by nonnuclear attacks on its homeland. These articles and at least three major conferences that focused on a future potential revolution in military affairs cannot be neatly fitted into the framework of either the neo-Maoist authors or the advocates of "local war under high tech conditions."

institutional affiliations of the three schools

These three schools may be seen as independent viewpoints that any individual could hold. They may also reflect institutional "homes" where the schools' authors work. RMA advocates (who tend to be senior colonels and a few major generals) seem to be employed by the AMS or the large components of the Commission on Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (COSTIND) complex, such as the China Aerospace Corporation and its research institutes like the Beijing Institute of System Engineering. Local war authors occupy most of the highest positions of the PLA and also are employed at the NDU, which trains almost all future generals. People's War school authors seem to be senior party officials, members of the General Political Department, and senior militia and People's Armed Police (PAP) leaders.

force structure and the three schools

The three schools may also to some extent reflect the current state of China's existing force structure, its efforts in doctrinal development, the equipment in its inventory, and the types of conflict scenarios used as points of reference. The relationship of the three schools to one another and to the Chinese force structure can be visualized as a triangle, or a pyramid, with three tiers. (582)

Figure 1. Three Schools of Future Warfare

People's War School

According to Dennis Blasko, the base of the pyramid represents the People's War school, represented by the vast majority of the People's Liberation Army today. The military thought of Mao Zedong provides the theoretical foundation for this school. (583)

This doctrine has little utility beyond the borders of China, but a considerable portion of all Chinese military writing still must pay homage to the heritage of People's War. Probably about 80 percent of the PLA is best suited to fight a People's War and is equipped with weapons designed in the 1950s and 1960s that would be museum pieces in many countries. This school relies upon the use of "existing weapons to defeat an enemy equipped with high-technology weaponry." Professor Shen Kuiguan, of the Air Force Command Institute, explains that even a "superior" enemy can be defeated through the application of Mao's concepts, "In a high-tech war, one should still depend on the principles of people's war to defeat the superior enemy, for people's war can maximumly promote our combat superiority and degrade the enemy's superiority. In a high-tech war, as long as we persist in allying various armed forces, combining various combat forms and integrating armed operations with non-armed operations, we can employ the great role of people's war and isolate the enemy." (584)

These forces are trained to defend the mainland, its adjacent seas, and air space from invasion. They would fight along side the militia and swallow up an invader using concepts devised by Mao 60 years ago that have been only slightly modified to account for current requirements--"People's Warfare under modern conditions." (585) Fang Ning of the Department of Military Systems at AMS has described the new contemporary form:

People's warfare is mobilized and carried out by the broad masses of people in order to seek liberation of the broad masses of people and to resist foreign aggression. People's warfare is the weapon that we have used to fight against domestic and foreign enemies, and to win the war. Because of the rapid development of science and technology and its wide application militarily, there have been many new changes and new characteristics in modern wars. But these changes and characteristics have in no way reduced the role and function of people's warfare in future anti-aggression wars. At the same time, the future people's warfare must also adapt to the characteristics of modern wars. (586)

The enduring legacy and utilization of Mao Zedong's military thought can be seen both in the continued publication of articles and books discussing his theories, as well as in its continued application in China's military strategy today. For example, in 1994, the six-volume Military Writings of Mao Zedong was published; it contains 1,612 military cables, orders, comments and remarks, reports, letters, and theoretical works on military affairs that Mao wrote between August 1927 and December 1972. The introduction published by the People's Daily on June 13 stated that most of the writings had never before been published and that the work is "the most systematic and comprehensive" of Mao's military writing.

A case where Mao's philosophy and strategies have been reaffirmed was reported by China National Defense News in 1994. An article entitled, "Discussions on 'Concentrating Forces to Fight a War of Annihilation' " disclosed:

Recently, leaders of a division . . . in Nanjing Military Region held discussions on the operational doctrine of Mao Zedong. Their answers were affirmative to the following questions: (1) whether such a doctrine still is valid in light of the tremendous changes in weaponry and in the patterns and means of operations that have taken place because of extensive applications of high and new technology; and (2) whether a war of annihilation can be fought under high-tech conditions. However, they contended that the forms of "concentrating forces" should be changed from "group" concentrations to "scattered" concentrations and from advance concentrations to mobile concentrations. (587)

Stratagem and deception are particularly important in People's War. The tactics these units practice are similar to those used in the War Against Japan (1937-45), the War of Liberation (1945-49), the Korean War (1950-53), and the 1979 conflict with Vietnam. The campaign against Vietnam was the last major PLA engagement against a foreign foe, and its shortcomings provided the stimulus for the military modernization efforts of the 1980s.

It is this segment of the PLA that will be reduced by 500,000 personnel, as announced by President Jiang Zemin at the 15th Party Congress in September 1997. A large portion of the 500,000-man reduction will be, or already has been, transferred to PAP. As defined by the March 1997 National Defense Law, PAP is part of the Chinese Armed Forces but is organizationally separate from the PLA. The National Defense Law defines the primary mission of the PLA as a defensive fighting mission, or external defense, while the primary mission of PAP is safeguarding security and maintaining public order, or internal security. Beginning in late 1996, at least 14 divisions of the PLA were transferred to PAP, and more are expected to follow. This transfer should allow each force to focus more on its primary mission. Potentially, it could mean that a stronger, better trained PAP will be able to maintain domestic security without resorting to the use of excessive force. At the same time, it could minimize the need for the PLA to be used in an internal security role--decreasing the likelihood of a repeat of the tragedy at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Local War School

The second tier of the PLA pyramid is the Local War school, which comprises maybe 15 percent of all army, navy, and air force units. The writings of Deng Xiaoping contain the theory that justifies this school. (588) In the 1980s, as the PLA began its modernization program, it developed rapid reaction units, experimental forces, and what has been labeled the "Doctrine of Local War." Local war is understood to be a limited war on the periphery of China that would be short but intense, utilizing advanced technology weapons, with units fighting in a joint and combined arms effort. It envisions an element of force projection (the ability to transport combat forces beyond China's borders), but by definition is regional, not global. Some rapid reaction and experimental units have been the recipients of the numerically limited imports of Russian hardware reported so vigorously by the media. Many units in this category are still equipped with outdated indigenous equipment and, like the People's War school, must devise ways to use their existing weapons to defeat a high-technology opponent. However, this segment of the PLA probably receives more training opportunities than do units dedicated to fighting a People's War.

China usually regards local war as its "next war," and the Persian Gulf War is often a point of reference for this school. According to Blasko, China has no combat experience in this type of conflict. (589) At this time, the development and dissemination of doctrine on how the PLA will fight such a war are extremely limited. The number of units actually prepared to live up to these modern standards is problematic, but this portion of the PLA is expected to grow in the future. There has been concern regarding China's need for development in this area; for example, in 1994, the Vice Director of the State Information Center, Wu Jiapei, admitted that China was 30 to 40 years behind the United States and the West in the technical levels of its information networks. He urged China to "speed up the technological renovation of its 'information highways' and improve its management over them." (590) Additionally, after the U.S. accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, there may have been an increased concern among members of the Local War school to "improve the quality and speed of armament development." (591) An organizational change was announced as "Beijing's latest response to the Kosovo crisis and the Cox Report, both of which prompted calls from diplomats and military sources to upgrade the People's Liberation Army's combat capacity to check the United States-led Western Alliance's military status." (592)

The RMA Advocates

The RMA school is at the top of the pyramid and is represented by only a very small portion of the PLA--strategists in its premier academic institutions, officers in COSTIND, some of its strategic missile units in what is known as the Second Artillery, and a few other units equipped with modern cruise missiles. Examples of this school are provided later in this chapter.

three mutually exclusive scenarios

Different types of conflict scenarios emerge from the debate among alternative Chinese schools of thought. In interviews with Chinese military officers, there are distinctive premises and assumptions made by each of the three schools of thought about Asian conflict scenarios. From the viewpoint of the eternal Mao framework, the most significant and likely scenario is the take-over of a major power by a madman bent on the invasion of China to "turn China into a colony." Whether Russian, Japanese, or American, this madman could successfully carry out the first phase of his invasion and penetrate several hundred miles into China along several axes of advance.

This school is obviously vulnerable to allegations of "fighting the last war." The example of a 7-year war (1937-45) against the Japanese invaders with a loss of over 20 million Chinese lives occurred during the lifetime of all Chinese military officers over the age of 55. This school of thought is particularly committed to the need to maintain a defense mobilization base and defense industry for production of weapons in the deep interior of China, where an alternative command center and national capital would be established for the years required to repulse the madman's invading forces.

The Local War school of thought focuses on entirely different scenarios. Its concern is to repel enemy forces infringing on Chinese territory or maritime resources. The associated authors refer to 30 islands already occupied by China's enemies, as well as China's disputed borders with nearly all its neighbors, including North Korea. They are also concerned about separatists in Tibet and western China, who may receive terrorist or military support from China's enemies.

Figure 2. People's War Scenarios

Chinese military authors have never repudiated the writings of Chairman Mao. The highest leaders still proclaim that People's War is the essence of China's military thinking.

Local wars may not be small. Examples cited by Local War authors include China's conflict with Vietnam in 1979 and with the United States in Northern Korea in 1950-51. In March 1979, China mobilized at least 200,000 ground forces, to achieve a 2:1 superiority over the 100,000 Vietnamese troops (mainly militia) and over 1,200 tanks and 1,500 heavy artillery pieces in support of the attack. No air or sea forces were involved. China suffered as many as 50,000 casualties, with 5,000 deaths. The Chinese offer for Vietnam to withdraw from Cambodia in return for a Chinese withdrawal from Vietnam was rejected by Vietnam. (593)

In Korea, China secretly sent 260,000 troops to surround and ambush a smaller 140,000 American and South Korean force, nearly achieving a 2:1 superiority. As this local war continued, a massive Chinese offensive in April 1951 cost China 70,000 casualties. By mid-1951, 700,000 troops on the China-North Korean side faced 420,000 U.N. troops. By the conflict's end in 1953, China had lost an estimated 400,000 troops. (594) The proximate cause of Chinese intervention in Korea as stated by China's spokesman was, "The American imperialists . . . directly threatened our northeastern borders. . . .The aim was not Korea itself but to invade China . . . to save our neighbor is to save ourselves . . . only resistance can make the imperialists learn the lesson." (595)

Figure 3. Local War Scenarios

Most Chinese authors in the past decade discuss Local War doctrine.

The third school of thought, which concerns itself with a potential RMA, seems to envision invasion conflict scenarios very different from the first two schools. For example, in "The Challenge of Information Warfare," General Wang Pufeng, after quoting Andrew W. Marshall, (596) urges that China develop three new missions: a strategic reconnaissance and warning system, a battlefield information network that brings all military branches into a single network for combat coordination, and long-range, precision-strike systems, including tactical guided missiles. In an implicit rebuke to Local War advocates and neo-Maoists, General Wang emphasizes, "In comparison with the strength of its potential enemies, the information technology and information weapons of the Chinese Armed Forces will all be inferior for quite some time." He also warns about the need to be the first to exploit a RMA:

Those who perceive it first will swiftly rise to the top and have the advantage of the first opportunities. Those who perceive it late will unavoidably also be caught up in the vortex of this revolution. Every military will receive this baptism. This revolution is first a revolution in concepts. (597)

Other articles by the RMA school stress, "The submarine will rise in its status to become a major naval warfare force" with the "appearance of underwater arsenal ships and underwater mine laying robots." Space warfare will be conducted by navy ships which can destroy satellite reconnaissance and other space systems. Tactical laser weapons will be needed for antiship defense. Long-range precision strikes at sea will cause "both sides to strive to make lightning attacks and raise their first strike damage rate." (598)

Figure 4. RMA Scenarios

In the 1990s, Chinese military authors began to address how the revolution in military affairs will change the nature of warfare. Their scenarios envisioned attacks on China by a superpower.

One theme of the RMA school is the need to change the measures of effectiveness used to design and develop military equipment and weapons, with one analyst proposing that future weapons systems and military organizations be judged largely on the basis of the "intensity with which they use information technology." It is apparent from this proposal that local war weapons and equipment now being procured in China would score at a very low level, if measured by the "Information Intensity Measure of Effectiveness." Thus, this article is a harsh criticism of the recommendations of both the Local War and neo-Maoist schools. (599) Another critique comes from a Liberation Army Daily article:

Meeting the challenge of the world military revolution demands that we give better play to our own advantages. The rich strategy of the east (dongfang moulue) is one of them. Over the past several years, our study and research of high-tech local wars and high-tech information war tend to show two tendencies: on the one hand, owing to their overestimation of the importance of technology and underestimation of the role of strategy, some people consider themselves to have nothing worthy of praise; on the other hand, however, with the belief that strategic principles can replace the development of technology, some are sure that the magic weapon passed down by their forefathers can bless them to win every battle. These two opposite tendencies are both lopsided views. This article puts forward the idea that the military revolution will push the military strategy of the east to a new level. Though some ideas in the article are open to discussion, the problems it raises warrant careful reflection. (600)

How should foreign observers assess and understand these contradictory Chinese strategic writings? The Asian conflict scenarios implicit in the RMA school of thought involve equipment and capabilities for China's future enemies that are not possessed by Vietnam, Outer Mongolia, North Korea, India, the Central Asian states, South Korea, or Japan at this time. The missions of long-range, precision strike, information warfare operations, and attacks against space satellite reconnaissance systems imply that either Russia or the United States is part of the scenario.

These three Asian conflict scenarios seem mutually exclusive. Is there a "strategic debate" underway that has not been resolved? Some authors refer to past debates on military strategy. According to Yan Xuetong of CICIR:

In the 1980s there was a debate among Chinese military circles on the following questions: How to comprehend the exact meaning of "luring the enemy in deep?" Is it meant for battles or for the whole war? Should China fight a protracted or a quick war? Should China fight a full-scale war or a limited local war?

These questions imply the views of the local war school, which, in the 1980s, probably was the "reform" view opposed to the orthodox People's War view. The President of AMS apparently sided with the local war view. According to interviews in Beijing, the AMS actually "staffed" out the formation of the local war concepts. Yan continues the story to the late 1980s:

After the Cold War, a consensus has basically been reached on these questions among Chinese military circles, i.e., in order to ensure the safety of the country's economic achievements against war damages, the Chinese army must commit itself to the task of engaging the enemy outside of China's territory. Additionally, because wars China might be involved in during the post Cold War period will most probably be high-tech local wars, the Chinese army must acquire the ability of winning a high-tech local war so as to keep the enemy outside the country's territory.

Yan here introduces an evolution of the original local war view that focused on border disputes--by the early 1990s, the view emerged that China must fight local war beyond its borders. Yan writes:

Consequently, a strategy of active defense that lays stress on enhancing the army's rapid response capability and readiness for any high-tech local war has become China's current military strategy for national defense. The objective of this strategy is to prevent war from breaking out, or if failing that, to keep them outside of China's territory. (601)

Yan Xuetong's description of the debates in China's military establishment is supported by Yao Yunzhu, a senior colonel in the AMS Foreign Military Studies Department, who writes that there were "heated debates" before the 1985 switch to Local War doctrine, which were about the "international environment, the real and potential threats China will face, the kinds of wars that China is likely to be engaged in, and the ways and means to fight such wars." (602) She concludes, "However, it would be too early to conclude that the PLA has abandoned its traditional doctrine altogether. . . . Most Chinese military analysts consider that the changes made so far are compatible with the traditional doctrine, at least with the basic ideas it embodies. People's War and Active Defense are still directing the Chinese PLA in its long march toward modernization." (603)

Even with this insight about the 1980s, analysis in the 1990s remains difficult because the three groups under review decline to acknowledge each other. They do not "debate" in a Western sense of the word, and positions are not always clear cut. For example, People's War may be invoked to support the importance of information warfare, as is done by Wang Pufeng: "We must use a practical combination of information warfare and Marxist and Maoist military thought to guide information warfare and issues in military construction." (604) Another example where People's War and Information War are linked is given by Wei Jincheng, who writes:

The concept of People's War of the olden days is bound to continue to be enriched, improved and updated in the information age to take on a brand-new form. . . . only by bringing relevant systems into play and combining human intelligence with artificial intelligence under effective organization and coordination can we drown our enemies in the ocean of an information offensive. A people's war in the context of information warfare is carried out by hundreds of millions of people using open-type modern information systems." (605)

Chinese authors decline to admit the existence of a debate, preferring instead to claim there is merely a difference in "emphasis" among authors. (606)

However, in fact, there are clearly sharp, mutually exclusive differences among the three schools:

These three schools of thought among military authors have counterparts among the civilian defense and foreign affairs community. (608) As has been discussed in detail, the civilians pursue unique techniques of strategic analysis to determine where future conflicts may involve China's national interests. They use a set of analytical categories different from their Western counterparts and do not anticipate that the United Nations or other well-intentioned security organizations will be that effective.

In contrast to the lack of debate on general warfare doctrine, "space warfare" appears to be an area for constructive debate among Chinese analysts. As would be expected, RMA advocates see "space warfare" as central to the outcome of future wars. However, the advocates of Local War and People's War seem to view "space warfare" as not particularly important to China. They suggest it was mainly important as part of the overall military balance that shifted back and forth during the Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. Some have taken note of the history of American and Russian antisatellite developments.

How do these analysts judge the future space balance? (609) Some have been extremely concerned about China's relative weakness in this area and have openly advocated a Chinese "space warfare headquarters" to command a future antisatellite capability and ballistic missile defense to break the "superpower monopoly" of space, in spite of China's current diplomatic position that antisatellite weapons (ASATs) should be banned and no weapons permitted in space. (610) China Aerospace has published drawings of a space station and space shuttle for the future.

Other more cautious Chinese officers at least agree that ASATs and "space warfare" are important aspects of any strategic assessment. First, they look backward at the shifting balance in U.S. and Soviet efforts. Then they remark on the importance of China's enhancing its limited ability to manufacture satellites and to continue developing a robust launch capability at several sites with several reliable launchers; both a manned space program and a Chinese space station are budgeted. Articles have also discussed the importance of reducing satellite vulnerability by using very small satellites, the need for anti-ASAT capabilities to defend Chinese satellites, and the need to develop a capability to strike first at enemy space capabilities.

the rma in china

RMA Forecasts

In the view of those authors this study labels "RMA advocates," American decline will be further accelerated by an inevitable RMA that will drastically reduce the relative military power of any nation that does not pursue the RMA with great vigor. (611) The articles give no hint of any debate about this matter, but in the United States there has been a great deal of debate in professional military journals not only about how to exploit the next potential revolution in military affairs, but also about what it may mean.

Views on the RMA in the United States range from the assertion that the U.S. Air Force has already demonstrated the next RMA in the Gulf War, to the opposite view that no one has yet begun to appreciate what an RMA may look like in 20 years or more because the potential for change is so big as to be inconceivable at present. In between these views that "we have it now" and "we can't imagine it yet," there are many proposals in U.S. journals about what a potential RMA should be. Not so in China. Chinese analysts have even made predictions about the stages the RMA will go through in the future. For example, Wang Zhenxi, a senior advisor at CIISS, writes:

The world military revolution will develop by and large into the senior stage around 2030 from the existing junior one. Then, there will be an overall qualitative leap in the military field of all countries--the possession by the military forces of high-quality personnel, integrated C4I systems, high-level training and education, intelligent arms, scientific system of organization and creative military doctrines. . . . It will enter a new phase when all the intelligent and new concept weapons such as robots, nonlethal weapons, psychological skill and precision-system defense technology are employed in actual combat and widely equipped in troops. There can be a good deal of the brand-new mode of warfare adopted in operations, e.g. the smart war, paralyzing war, space war, robot war, electronic war and knowledge war, etc. (612)

Some Chinese authors seem to leave open the possibility that China, not the United States, will be the first to exploit the RMA in two or three decades. Other authors emphasize instead the massive obstacles China must overcome. Civilians, too, forecast that any nation that exploits the RMA may be able to defy a superpower. Shen Qurong, president of CICIR, writes:

A military revolution (RMA) is underway. . . . the London-based Institute for International Strategic Studies says that along with the advance of this revolution, some small and medium-size nations will no longer be condemned to a perpetual inferior position relative to the Western world. On the contrary, they will increasingly have the opportunity to obtain capabilities of offering direct opposition to Western military superiority in the 21st century. (613)

As is evident from the essays in Chinese Views of Future Warfare, the Chinese are investigating the entire scope of new technologies and theories applicable to the RMA. Chinese defense industries are undertaking serious research efforts to identify areas upon which they should focus. However, no senior Chinese leader has lent his imprimatur to the RMA school.

The RMA and the United States

Open-source Chinese military writing on future warfare suggests that China may not be as friendly to the Pentagon as the Pentagon is to China. Indeed, numerous Chinese books and articles suggest an active research program has been underway for several years to examine how China should develop future military capabilities to defeat the United States by exploiting the RMA more effectively and more rapidly than the United States, particularly by tailoring new technology to "defeat the superior with the inferior" with a strategy of asymmetric warfare.

These two subjects, the RMA and asymmetric warfare, are closely related in some PLA writing. A book published in May 1996 by Major General Li Zhiyun, Foreign Military Studies Director at the National Defense University, contains articles by 64 PLA authors describing in detail an extended list of the weaknesses of the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. This book represents a common theme in PLA views of future warfare--America is proclaimed to be a declining power with but two or three decades of primacy left. U.S. military forces, while dangerous at present, are vulnerable, even deeply flawed, and can be defeated with the right strategy, namely "defeating the superior with the inferior." Part of the recommended asymmetric approach in some of the PLA writing is the requirement for "the inferior" to pre-emptively strike the "superior" in order to paralyze his nerve centers and block his logistics.

Asymmetric War

The second aspect of PLA views of future warfare is the requirement to exploit the RMA so that China can even more rapidly and effectively "defeat the superior with the inferior." One statement never found in PLA open- source writing is any declaration that China will one day be the world's leading military power. Rather, the eventual end state of the current post-Cold War transitional period is always proclaimed to be "multipolarity" among five "equal" powers, each of which will have its own sphere of influence. One bold author explains that, by mid-21st century, even the declining United States will still be left its own sphere of influence, namely Latin America and Canada. Several PLA articles and a book published by the Academy of Military Science provide equations with which to calculate the future trends in CNP that will lead to this world of five equal powers. (614)


To understand the RMA and to develop innovative defense programs, China announced in May 1996 that it had formed a strategic research center that would combine research on traditional Chinese statecraft with studies and experiments designed to generate innovative military operational concepts. (615) Several national conferences have been convened to assess the implications of the RMA for China, including whether traditional or ancient statecraft can be applied to exploit the RMA and asymmetrical strategy. The announcement of the new center in 1996 specifically praised several books by PLA authors that were previously published in the 1980s about the application of ancient strategy to future warfare. (616) Earlier, China announced the formation of an Institute of Grand Strategy, which would have responsibility for assessing the approaches of other major powers to security issues in the 21st century.

Both these new institutions (and several existing ones) take a task-force type of approach by assembling experts from a variety of Chinese military institutions to examine strategic alternatives more than one or two decades ahead. Credit for some of these initiatives is sometimes given to Qian Xuesen, who made a speech in 1985 that brought prior Russian work on the RMA to the attention of China's senior military leadership. Qian, considered to be the father of China's missile programs, has a Ph.D. from Cal Tech and actually participated in the first major U.S. Air Force study of future warfare in the late 1940s, for which he authored several sections on future missile warfare. The contrast is striking between the orthodox authors, who since 1985 have advocated "active defense" and Local War programs, and the new articles since 1994 by Chinese military authors who urge that China must be the first, or among the first in the world, to exploit information and stealth technology, to acquire an entirely new type of armed forces that bears no resemblance to the 1985 program laid down by Deng Xiaoping.

Proposals and Programs

Books and journals put out by several military publishing houses in China suggest that at least 50 military officers now write about future warfare and the RMA. Some propose specific programs for China, such as developing means to counter U.S. stealth aircraft. Others suggest more general approaches that propose new doctrine and new weapons programs, or offer broad warnings about what will happen to China if it ignores the RMA.

Some articles by these "RMA advocates" seem to be reports of task forces formed within single service research institutes. The Air Force Command Institute authors focus on the crucial future role of "space forces" and praise the Israeli pre-emptive dawn attack that destroyed most of the Egyptian Air Force on the ground as an example of the "inferior" defeating the "superior" through a surprise attack. Similarly, Navy Research Institute authors state that the submarine will become the most important ship in the 21st century because of its stealthiness and its ability to destroy the large surface ships of a "superior" enemy navy.

PLA authors seem to have begun to assess the RMA almost 10 years ago, (617) even before the concept was well known in United States. Since the mid-1980s, some senior AMS officers have repeatedly referred to the "third military technical revolution" without actually footnoting the Soviet military journals that discussed the same subject. In fact, Huan Xiang, Deng Xiaoping's national security advisor, discussed "the new technological revolution in military affairs" in a 1985 Liberation Army Daily article. Huan predicted, "In 10 years, it will be an era in which strategic nuclear weapons and strategic nonnuclear weapons both exist. Due to rising technology levels, non-nuclear weapons will become conventional strategic weapons . . . so that certain strategic targets can be reached." He suggests that there will be changes in military organization, and new military organizations, such as "strategic troops should be established." Huan listed four technologies for a technological RMA: precision-guided tactical weapons, long-range strategic vehicles, a system formed by satellite communications and reconnaissance, and rapid and comprehensive data processing with computers. (618) RMA articles by AMS authors began to appear at least as early as autumn 1988, with Wu Qunqiu's seminal article in China Military Science and AMS Vice President General Mi Zhenyu's book, Chinese National Defense Development Concepts. (619) It would be useful to review these representative articles and book chapters by the Chinese RMA advocates before discussing their implications.

China's National Defense Development Concepts, published by a team under the leadership of General Mi Zhenyu, a Vice President of the Academy of Military Science, is one of China's most important studies of future warfare. It suggests:

National Conferences

In January 1996, the Liberation Army Daily recommended the next steps China should take with regard to the RMA. Here are some representative comments that illustrate typical optimism:

asymmetric warfare


In "Weapons of the 21st Century," Mr. Chang Mengxiong, the former Senior Engineer of the Beijing Institute of System Engineering of COSTIND, suggests "We are in the midst of a new revolution in military technology" and in the 21st century both weapons and military units will be "information-intensified." (622)

Chang has a keen eye for spotting American military weaknesses and suggesting asymmetric approaches in which "the inferior can defeat the superior." Chang writes that future C³I systems will be crucial, so that "attacking and protecting space satellites, airborne early-warning and electronic warfare aircraft and ground command sites will become important forms of combat." Like many Chinese authors, Chang sees new concept weapons such as lasers and high-powered microwave weapons to be the best way to conduct asymmetric attacks. (623)

In terms of asymmetric warfare, one of Chang's most vivid metaphors is of a Chinese boxer. "Information-intensified combat methods are like a Chinese boxer with a knowledge of vital body points who can bring an opponent to his knees with a minimum of movement." Chang discusses some specific new concepts for weapons:

Like nuclear deterrence, "information deterrence" will be vital, especially if "the power with a weaker information capability can deliver a crippling attack on the information system of the power with a stronger information system." In a very important point, Chang stresses, "Even if two adversaries are generally equal in weapons, unless the side having a weaker information capability is able effectively to weaken the information capability of the adversary, it has very little possibility of winning the war." (625)

Sea Power

In the first of two articles on 21st century naval warfare, Captain Shen Zhongchang and his coauthors from the Chinese Navy Research Institute suggest that "certain cutting-edge technologies are likely to be applied first to naval warfare." (626) They point out how China could adopt several asymmetric approaches to defeating a larger and more powerful navy. These approaches include disabling a more powerful navy by attacking its space-based communications and surveillance systems and even attacking naval units themselves from space. Shen writes, "The mastery of outer space will be a prerequisite for naval victory, with outer space becoming the new commanding heights for naval combat." Ships at sea will carry out antireconnaissance strikes against space satellites and other space systems. "The side with electromagnetic combat superiority will make full use of that invisible killer mace to win naval victory." They believe that direct attacks on naval battlefields will become possible from outer space because "naval battle space is going to expand in unprecedented ways." (627)

A second asymmetric approach to defeating a more powerful navy is to use shore-based missiles and aircraft instead of developing a large (symmetrical) naval fleet: "As land-based weapons will be sharply improved in reaction capacity, strike precision, and range, it will be possible to strike formations at sea, even individual warships." (628)

A third asymmetric approach will be for China to pioneer in "magic weapons," such as tactical laser weapons, that "will be used first in antiship missile defense systems" and stealth technology for both naval ships and cruise missiles: "Lightning attacks and powerful first strikes will be more widely used." (629)

A fourth asymmetric approach will be for China to attack the naval logistics of the superior navy. Shen explains that the vulnerability of an American-style navy will grow in the future because future naval warfare will expend large amounts of human and material resources so that "logistics survival will face a greater challenge." He predicts that "future maritime supply lines and logistic security bases will find it hard to survive." He states that the Gulf War's daily ammunition expenditure was 4.6 times that of the Vietnam War and 20 times that of the Korean War, with an oil consumption rate of about 19 million gallons a day, suggesting American naval operations are vulnerable because of relatively unprotected supply lines. (630)

A fifth asymmetric approach will be for China to attack American naval command and information systems. In a second article, Captain Shen Zhongchang and his co-authors list new technologies that will contribute to the defeat of the United States, explaining that protection of C3I is now so important that "the U.S. Defense Department has invested $1 billion in establishing a network to safeguard its information system." (631) However, Captain Shen writes that the American system may not be so safe from attack, because there are many ways to destroy information systems:

A sixth asymmetric approach to naval warfare is to use submarines with new types of torpedoes. Shen predicts that the most powerful naval weapon in future warfare will be submarines. He writes, "After the First World War, the dominant vessel was the battleship. In the Second World War, it was the aircraft carrier. If another global war breaks out, the most powerful weapon will be the submarine." (632) Torpedoes do not require a submarine and can also be launched from Chinese small patrol boats.

Air Power

In "The Military Revolution and Air Power," Major General Zheng Shenxia, President of Air Force Command College, and Colonel Zhang Changzhi make a case that the RMA will strengthen aerospace forces more than others. (633) They emphasize the growing importance of precision strike capability, stealth, night vision, longer range attacks, lethality of smart munitions, increased C3I capability, and electronic warfare. They were deeply impressed by the U.S. capability in the Gulf War to "capture all the high-frequency and ultrahigh-frequency radio signals of the Iraqi army and store information gathered by 34 reconnaissance satellites, 260 electronic reconnaissance planes, and 40 warning aircraft" and then "destroy the Iraqi communication system." They conclude that "this explains that information is the key to victory." According to General Zheng, China's future air force must integrate space, air, and air defense forces into one. Following the struggle for air control, he says, "Space control will become a decisive component of strategic initiative."

In "21st Century Air Warfare," Colonel Min Zengfu of the Air Force Command Institute argues, "The air battlefield will become decisively significant" in future warfare. He, too, stresses that China's air force must be "linked" to space forces. Min concludes that not only is it correct to say, "He who controls outer space controls the earth," but also "To maintain air superiority one must control outer space." (634)

Nanotechnology Weapons

An article by Major General Sun Bailin of the Academy of Military Science is particularly important because it illustrates how asymmetric attacks on U.S. military forces could be carried out with extremely advanced technology. General Sun points out that U.S. dependence on "information superhighways" will make it vulnerable to attack by microscale robot "electrical incapacitation systems." (635)

The targets would be American electrical power systems, civilian aviation systems, transportation networks, seaports and shipping, highways, television broadcast stations, telecommunications systems, computer centers, factories and enterprises, and so forth. Sun also suggests that U.S. military equipment will also be vulnerable to asymmetrical attack by "ant robots." According to General Sun, these are a type of microscale electromechanical system that can be controlled with sound. The energy source of ant robots is a microscale microphone that can transform sound into energy. People can use them to creep into the enemy's vital equipment and lurk there for as long as several decades. In peacetime, they do not cause any problem. In the event of relations between two countries deteriorating, to the point that they develop into warfare, remote control equipment can be used to activate the hidden ant robots, so that they can destroy or "devour" the enemy's equipment.

"Magic Weapons"

In "Military Conflicts in the New Era," Major General Zheng Qinsheng points out that the well-known scientist Qian Xuesen "laid bare the essence of the military revolution" to be information technology. (636) Zheng, like Chang Mengxiong, advocates new measures of effectiveness.

In a rare remark that apparently criticizes Local War theorists, Zheng asks, "Where shall we place the nucleus of high-tech development? Where shall we put the main emphasis of local high-tech wars?" Zheng reveals that "a consensus on these issues has yet to be reached throughout the army. People still tend to place greater emphasis on hardware instead of software, and on the present instead of the future. Such a transitional 'optical parallax' is hindering us from gaining a correct grasp of major contradictions." Zheng concludes by recommending a conscientious study of the RMA, new ideas on military development, and "magic weapons" that can really serve our purpose.

combat concepts

The COSTIND journal, Contemporary Military Affairs, published an article in March 1996 by Chen Huan, who calls for rapid technology development of information, stealth, and long-range precision strike capability. (637) Chen predicts new operational concepts will appear in future wars:

-Laser weapons
-Ultrahigh frequency weapons
-Ultrasonic wave weapons
-Stealth weapons
-Electromagnetic guns."

Because the efficacy of these new-concept weapons depends on the hard-shell support of a space platform, once the space platform is lost, their efficacy will be weakened and they will even become powerless. In this way, the two sides in a war will focus on offensive and defensive operations conducted from space platforms in outer space, and these operations will certainly become a new form in future wars. In the U.S. Armed Forces, a new service--the Space Force--is being discussed, showing that the idea of outer space combat is close to moving from theory to actual combat." (638)

defense investment decisions

Resource Allocation

Western estimates of China's defense budget range from U.S. $8 billion to over $100 billion. Little is known with confidence about how it is allocated, but there is evidence that China's leadership cannot decide among several future paths that have been proposed by policy analysts and is therefore allocating resources among three distinct paths. Two of these paths represent reforms. Advocates of these two reform schools seem to be arrayed against a third group of conservative traditionalists who have been losing their share of the allocation of defense investments. There is muted debate among these schools and discussion about how to invest defense spending in the decade ahead. The outcome of this debate may shift the future balance in defense resource allocations.

Investments Recommended by RMA Advocates

Since at least 1994, RMA visionaries (represented in numerous articles and five books in 1997) have been calling for China to attempt to leapfrog the United States in the next two decades by investing mainly in the most exotic advanced military technology and in new doctrines and new organizations along the lines of American and Russian writings on a potential RMA. Judging by the tone of the authors in this RMA school, they have not yet been successful. One of their members complained in an unusual signed article in the main military newspaper in February 1998 that the recent rate of innovation in doctrine, technology and organization has not been sufficient. Books by these authors have warned that if China tries to match U.S. military technology in the short term (rather than by leapfrogging), after 20 years China will only be further behind. This warning has not been heeded by the second and more influential Local War school.

Investments Recommended by the Power Projection Advocates

A second reformist school of thought, identified by its use of the concept of local war or power projection, seems to be somewhat more confident than RMA advocates that it has gained a significant share of new defense investment. Like the RMA advocates, this Local War school identifies itself as "reformers." They have tried to achieve their evolutionary reforms since the early 1980s. These evolutionary reformers are caught between the traditional conservatives, who have the lion's share of the investment budget, and the RMA advocates, who, in the eyes of the Local War reformers, appear to be championing unrealistic goals. Local War advocates have written since the mid-1980s that China needs a power projection capability that will provide at least decisive force against challenges to China's borders.

This school counts among its members most of the current high command of the Chinese Armed Forces. However, Local War advocates, while satisfied at the direction of defense investment, seem discontent about the level of funding the central government is providing. Thus, the authors of this school express veiled criticism of the pace and scope of the development of China's power projection forces. They complain, for example, that all China's neighbors possess more advanced military technology. They complain of the slow pace of Chinese programs to develop aerial refueling, at-sea replenishment, airborne warning and control aircraft, a national command and control system, sufficient airborne and amphibious forces, an aircraft carrier program, and fighter aircraft. In the nuclear field, they express concern that U.S.-supplied theater missile defense will neutralize China's nuclear forces targeted on its Asian neighbors and the United States. This group of reformers is not comfortable with the level of investment of defense resources, even if they seem pleased at its goals. They may seek additional resources as China's economy prospers.

Investments Recommended by the People's War Advocates

A third school of thought probably still commands the greater part of Chinese defense investment. They still endorse the concept of People's War, or active defense, and they benefit most by the status quo in China's Armed Forces. They probably resist the innovations of both the RMA advocates and the Local War reformers, because their main preference is to preserve the world's largest standing army and to maintain China's complete reliance on indigenous defense production; they oppose troop cuts and the purchase of foreign weapons systems. The PLA was 7 million strong in the early 1980s, and only after major controversy was it reduced to 3 million, with a recent promise (debated for the past 5 years) that another 500,000 may be cut by 2000. The People's War school also prefers to maintain a national mobilization capability for wartime defense industry (to include production of light arms and ammunition). The People's War school may not be completely antagonistic to the reforms of the Local War advocates in the direction of limited power projection, as long as the expense does not compromise the large standing army and a suitable defense mobilization base and does not lead to dependence on foreign weapons or foreign technology.


The debates and the competition for defense resources among the three schools can result in very different outcomes over a decade or two into the future. For example, the Local War or Power Projection school may eventually pose a challenge to U.S. naval and air forces in the Western Pacific. Over time, the Chinese have explicitly stated they intend to attain military influence out to the "first island chain" (roughly 500 to 1,000 miles from China) with their power projection forces. They cannot operate in this area today, yet Chinese authors emphasize that enormous natural resources await exploitation by China in this area. China's authors claim that China in the past century was humiliated by Japan and the Western imperialists because it lacked modern military technology. China particularly lacked advanced naval forces, and so it lost the province of Taiwan and other areas. Yet this school cannot obtain the necessary resources if the programs championed by the other two schools must also be funded.

In order to commit more resources to either power projection or developing RMA technology and doctrine, China must resolve or neglect a number of threats that will otherwise continue to claim the lion's share of defense investment. If these kinds of threats are reduced, then the RMA and Local War advocates can claim a larger share of defense resources. If China's economic growth rate continues to be three or four times faster than the U.S. economic growth rate (8 percent for China, 2.5 percent for the United States), then the estimates of the World Bank suggest that in the first quarter of the 20th century, China will have enormous resources with which to develop power projection and/or RMA capabilities. In some scenarios, the level of Chinese defense investment could exceed that of the United States within two decades.

Even with greater resources China's defense reformers of both the RMA and Local War schools need to free up those resources by resolving the threats and challenges that the programs of People's War school are designed to handle. Otherwise, conservatives will continue to dominate the defense investment process.

For example, a China with a GNP equal to the United States and focused on the RMA or advanced power projection forces would be a challenge to the United States. In contrast, a China focused on defense investments "turned inward" would be very different. China may decide to focus "inward" on:

Much more needs to be known about China's secretive defense decisionmaking process before a thorough understanding is achieved about why China's leaders may select one path instead of another. This is probably worth attempting. Whether the People's War advocates continue to dominate China's military investment decisions may become an issue of some importance to the United States over the long term.

No Chinese author has yet publicly identified the relationship among the three different "schools of future warfare" and alternative future security environments. It is plausible that such debates are still too sensitive a subject for open publication. One could speculate, however, that a long-term security environment of "peace and development" would be a forecast that favors the RMA advocates and who propose that China should identify new technologies and new operational concepts and even set up new types of military organizations in order to leapfrog ahead a generation, as Mi Zhenyu and others advocate. Similarly, Local War advocates would welcome a second type of forecast about the future security environment over next two decades that emphasizes the high probability of local wars along China's frontiers. These local wars might include Taiwan's declaring independence, or maritime border disputes in the South China Sea or Central Asia. Such a forecast would mean that Beijing would have to invest heavily in the program of these advocates.  Finally, one could imagine that People's War advocates would welcome Chinese authors who emphasize the threat of dismemberment, foreign subversion, or a land invasion by a future fascist Japan, or even the rise to power of a madman like Hitler in India, the United States, or Russia.


569. Xia Liping, Wang Zhongchun, Wen Zhonghua, and Xu Weidi, "Shijie zhanlue xingshi de zhuyao tedian yu qushi" (The world strategic situation--characteristics and trends), Heping yu fazhan (Peace and Development) 47, no. 1 (February 1994): 18.

570. Colonel Xu Weidi, "Post Cold War Naval Security Environment," World Military Trends (Beijing: Academy of Military Science, no date).

571. Shen Qurong "May Earlier Maturity Come to Peace: Thoughts on Asia's Future," Contemporary International Relations 6, no. 9 (September 1996): 14.

572. Ibid., 14.

573. Liu Mingde, "The Implications of Changes in Warfare After the Disintegration of the Bipolar Structure," Guoji zhanlue yanjiu (International Strategic Studies) 24, no. 2 (June 1992): 7-8.

574. Yang Shuheng, "Lengzhan hou daguo he diqu liliang dui Zhongya de zhengduo" (The struggles over Central Asia by major nations and regional forces in the post-Cold War period), Heping yu fazhan (Peace and Development) 60, no. 2 (June 1997): 29, 45.

575. A recent endorsement of People's War appeared January 9, 1998, in Liberation Army Daily. It quoted Defense Minister Chi Haotian, who at the National Defense University stated, "Under high-tech conditions, we still need to insist on People's War." Chi said that People's War "is the product of historical and dialectical materialism."

576. The author conducted over 60 interviews with Chinese military and civilian authors from March 1995 to October 1998.

577. Li Qinggong, "Dangqian de guoji junshi anquan xingshi" (The current international military security situation), Guoji zhanlue yanjiu (International Strategic Studies) 47, no. 1 (January 1998): 9. Li is a Research Fellow at China Institute of International Strategic Studies (CIISS).

578. One description of RMAs comes from a Senior Adviser at CIISS, who writes, "A relatively typical view in our country has it that human history has thus far witnessed five military revolutions: The earliest one emerged with bare-handed fights; the second one accompanied the extensive military use of 'cold steel' after the invention of metallurgy; the third radical change in the military field came to the fore when human society stepped into the era of hot arms, as gunpowder was invented and firearms were used militarily on a large scale; mankind found itself in the period of mechanized warfare following the manufacture of internal combustion engines and the fabrication and broad military utilization of mechanical weapons from the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century; and the fifth revolution in military affairs began to emerge during the second half of this century in company with the extensive military application of nuclear weapons, electronic and micro-electronic technology, computers, remote sensing and control technology, new material and energy technology, oceaneering and bioengineering technology, and aerospace technology, as well as with the epochal character of the historical transition period and the evolution in the international situation." Wang Zhenxi, "The New Wave of Military Revolution in the World," Guoji zhanlue yanjiu (International Strategic Studies) 44, no. 2 (April 1997): 2.

579. V. D. Sokolovskiy, Soviet Military Strategy (London: MacDonald and James, 1968), 18.

580. Dennis Blasko, "Better Late Than Never: Non-equipment Aspects of PLA Ground Force Modernization," in Chinese Military Modernization, eds. C. Dennison Lane, Mark Weisenbloom, and Dimon Liu (Washington: AEI Press, 1996), 131.

581. Captain Chen Yungkang and Lieutenant Commander Chai Wenchung, "A Study of the Evolving PRC Naval Strategy," China Mainland (September 1, 1997): 7-10, 13-20.

582. In the following discussion of the force structure of the three schools, the author is deeply indebted to Dennis Blasko's observations. See Dennis J. Blasko, "A New PLA Force Structure," in The People's Liberation Army in the Information Age, eds. James C. Mulvenon and Richard H. Yang (Santa Monica, CA: The RAND Corporation, 1999), 258-288.

583. For examples of Chinese writing on People's Warfare, see Liu Sheng'e and Miao Lin, Xiandai jubu zhanzheng tiaojian xia de renmin zhanzheng (People's War under the conditions of high-technology warfare)(Beijing: Guofang daxue chubanshe, 1996); Song Shilun, A Preliminary Probe into Mao Zedong's Military Thought (in Chinese)(Beijing: Junshi kexue chubanshe, 1983); Wang Pufeng, ed., Mao Zedong junshi zhanlue lun (On Mao Zedong's military strategy)(Beijing: Junshi kexue chubanshe, 1993); and Xia Zhengnan, Mao Zedong junshi zhanlue lun (Mao Zedong's military methodology)(Beijing: Junshi kexue chubanshe, 1995). See also the following six articles, all in Michael Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare (Washington: National Defense University Press, 1997): Chen Zhou, "Zhongguo xiandai jubu zhanzheng lilun yu Meiguo youxian zhanzheng lilun zhi butong" (Chinese modern local war and U.S. limited war), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 33, no. 4 (Winter 1995): 43-47; Fang Ning, "Shilun woguo xin shiqi de guofang zhengce" (Defense policy in the new era), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 29, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 43-49; Shen Kuiguan, "Gao jishu zhanzheng zhong yilieshengyou de bianzhengfa (Dialectics of defeating the superior with the inferior), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 29, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 105-109; Wang Naiming, "Jianchi jiji fangyu, shixing xiandai tiaojian xia renmin zhanzheng" (Adhere to active defense and modern people's war)," in Deng Xiaoping zhanlue sixiang lun (On Deng Xiaoping's Strategic Thought), eds. Peng Guangqian and Yao Youzhi (Beijing: Junshi kexue chubanshe, 1994), 280-298; Wei Jincheng, "Information War: A New Form of People's War" (in Chinese), Jiefangjun bao (Liberation Army Daily), June 25, 1996; and Zhao Nanqi, "Xu" (Deng Xiaoping's theory of defense modernization), in Deng Xiaoping zhanlue sixiang lun (On Deng Xiaoping's strategic thought), eds. Peng Guangqian and Yao Youzhi (Beijing: Junshi kexue chubanshe, 1994), 1-12, foreword.

584. Shen Kuiguan, "Gao jishu zhanzheng zhong yilieshengyou de bianzhengfa (Dialectics of defeating the superior with the inferior)," Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 29, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 105-109, in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 218-219.

585. Wang Naiming, "Jianchi jiji fangyu, shixing xiandai tiaojian xia renmin zhanzheng" (Adhere to active defense and modern people's war). In Deng Xiaoping zhanlue sixiang lun (On Deng Xiaoping's strategic thought), eds. Peng Guangqian and Yao Youzhi (Beijing: Military Science Press, 1994), 280-298, in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 43.

586. Fang Ning, "Shilun woguo xin shiqi de guofang zhengce" (Defense policy in the new era), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 29, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 43-49, in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 54-55.

587. China National Defense News, June 3, 1994. More recently Xinhua reported, "The General Political Department entrusted the Nanjing Political Academy with the running of a session to study how to teach the course 'An Introduction to Mao Zedong Thought' in military academies and schools a few days ago. More than 130 teachers for political theory from academies and schools of the armed forces and the Armed Police Force carried out thorough study and discussion on how to improve the teaching of this course. The study and discussion session was aimed at seeking unity in the guiding ideology, purposes, and requirements of the teaching of the course 'An Introduction to Mao Zedong Thought,' energetically exploring the key points, difficult points, teaching methods, and teaching characteristics of the course, and raising the overall teaching level of the course 'An Introduction to Mao Zedong Thought' in all academies and schools of the armed forces." "Academy Runs PLA Session on Teaching Mao Zedong Thought," Beijing Xinhua Domestic Service, June 12, 1999, in FBIS-CHI-1999-0612, June 12, 1999.

588. Six representative articles on local war by senior officers are: Liu Huaqing, "Yi shi wei jian jiaqiang guofang xiandaihua jianshe" (Defense modernization in historical perspective), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 29, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 7-8; Fu Quanyou, "Wojun houqin xiandaihua jianshe de zhinan" (Future logistics modernization), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 26, no. 1 (Spring 1994): 2-10; Yang Huan, "Woguo zhanlue he wuqi zhuangbei de fazhan" (China's strategic nuclear weaponry), in Huitou yu zhanwang (Retrospect and prospect: Chinese defense science, technology and industry)(Beijing: Guofang gongye chubanshe), 157-159; Wu Jianguo, "Gaojishu zhanzheng zhong de he yinying bu rong hushi" (Nuclear shadows on high-tech warfare), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 33, no. 4 (Winter 1995): 107-109; Chen Benchan, "Woguo zhuangjiabing wuqizhuangbei fazhan de huigu yu zhanwang" (Research and development of armor), in Huitou yu zhanwang (Retrospect and prospect: Chinese defense science, technology and industry)(Beijing: Guofang gongye chubanshe), 169-171; Ding Henggao, "Guofang keji gongye fazhan yu gaige ruogan wenti de sikao" (Reforming defense science, technology and industry), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 27, no. 2 (Summer 1994): 67-73; all in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare.

589. Dennis J. Blasko, "A New PLA Force Structure," 258-288.

590. S and T Daily, April 16, 1994.

591. For example, the Liberation Army Daily, June 9, 1999 quotes General Cao Gangchuan, director of the General Armament Department of the PLA speaking on the future navy.

592. Cary Huang, "Beijing Sets Up Panel on High Tech Weapons," Hong Kong Standard, June 11, 1999, 6, in FBIS-CHI-1999-0611, June 14, 1999. The article further stated, " Beijing is . . . setting up a powerful task force . . . under the all-powerful Central Military Commission, it is a revival of the mainland's endeavor from the late 1950s to 1970s, when Marshal Ni Rongzhen was assigned by chairman Mao Zedong to head an army of leading scientists, engineers, technicians and intelligence officers to develop China's first nuclear bomb. The task force, headed by General Xiong Guangkai, deputy chief of the general staff in charge of the PLA intelligence and military research units, will comprise officials from several central military and civilian agencies."

593. A proximate cause for this Chinese invasion was Vietnam's seizing a number of strategic hilltops inside China and shelling Chinese nearby villages in December 1978. Other factors were harrassment of Chinese fishermen by the Vietnamese Navy, Vietnamese expulsion of at least 200,000 ethnic Chinese, Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia and liquidation of a pro-Chinese government there, and Vietnam's growing military alliance with the Soviet Union.

594. Harvey Nelson, Power and Insecurity: Beijing and Moscow and Washington, 1949-1988 (Boulder, CO: Westview Press), 12.

595. The source is "Declaration of all Democratic Parties," November 4, 1950, in The Great "Opposing America, Assisting Korea" Movement (Beijing: New China Bookstore, 1954), 366-367. Later, General Wu Xiuquan at the United Nations Security Council described an American master plan to invade China that included bases and arrangements in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

596. Chinese authors frequently refer to Andrew Marshall, Head of the Office of Net Assessment, at the U.S. Department of Defense. For example, Peng Guangqian of AMS, after visiting the United States and meeting Marshall wrote, "He [Marshall] emphasized that China is a major power with tremendous potential, that is worth special attention, currently, although China still is behind the U.S. in military technology, if China makes a breakthrough in military theory innovation, then it is very possible that it will be in the leading rank of countries in the RMA. Peng Guangqian, "Meiguo junshi geming de jiji changdaozhe, Maxie'er" (The active initiator of the U.S. RMA, Marshall), Junshi wenchai (Military Digest) 4-5 (1996): 92-93.

597. Wang Pufeng, "Yingjie xinxi zhanzheng de tiaozhan" (The challenge of information warfare), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 30, no. 1 (Spring 1995): 8-18, in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 317-326.

598. Shen Zhongchang, Zhou Xinsheng and Zhang Haiying, "21 shiji haizhan chutan" (21st- century naval warfare), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 30, no. 1 (Spring 1995): 28-32, in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 261-274.

599. Chang Mengxiong, "21 shiji wuqi he jundui zhanwang" (Weapons of the 21st century), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 30, no. 1 (Spring 1995): 19-24, 49, in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 249-260.

600. Su Enze, "Strategy of the East is Advancing Toward a New Phase--Discussion on Welcoming the Challenge of a Military Revolution" (in Chinese), Jiefangjun bao (Liberation Army Daily), March 5,1996, 6.

601. Yan Xuetong, "China's Post-Cold War Security Strategy." Contemporary International Relations, 5, no. 5 (1995).

602. Yao Yunzhu, "The Evolution of Military Doctrine of the Chinese PLA from 1985 to 1995," Korean Journal of Defense Analysis 7, no. 2 (Winter 1995): 57.

603. Ibid., 80.

604. Wang Pufeng, "Yingjie xinxi zhanzheng de tiaozhan," in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 325. Wang further clarifies his argument in a book on information warfare and the RMA stating, "Based on fighting an information war with existing weaponry, China's military is technically weak, but in the combat arena China's strength is People's War. Information warfare is warfare's technical form, it determines the large quantity of information technology used in war. People's Warfare is warfare's political form, it determines the righteous nature of warfare. Their content is different in nature, but on China's battlefield, China uses People's Warfare to fight information warfare, or in information warfare it fights a People's War, we must take these two different natured things and fuse them into a warfare furnace." Wang Pufeng, Xinxi zhanzheng yu junshi geming (Information Warfare and the revolution in military affairs)(Beijing: Junshi kexue chubanshe, 1995: 203-204.)

605. Wei Jincheng, "Information War: A New form of People's War," Jiefangjun bao (Liberation Army Daily), June 25, 1996, in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare.

606. An anthropologist has observed that Chinese involved in factional disputes carry on the conflict by denying to outsiders that the other factions even exist. Few Chinese analysts footnote other analysts or comment about other's work in any article or book. See Barbara L. K. Pillsbury, "Factionalism Observed: Behind the 'Face' of Harmony in a Chinese Community," The China Quarterly, no. 74 (June 1978): 241-272.

607. This new third school has no senior leader like Mao or Deng to serve as a patron as yet. It tends to cite American specialists about the RMA (including Andrew W. Marshall), without reference to Mao or Deng. It will be important if the speeches of President Jiang Zemin ever incorporate this school rather than continuing (for the past 5 years) to endorse a vague mixture of both the Mao and Deng approaches.

608. Each of the three schools of thought identified above--People's War, combined arms and information warfare, and RMA--has certain themes that identify it. For People's War advocates, one clue is appeals for "defense conversion," or the production of commercial products (to assist with the politically correct goal of economic growth), but still carefully maintaining the capability to shift rapidly back to wartime intensity of production of light weapons to arm the millions who will be mobilized to defeat the invader.

609. For a strategic framework, see Peng Guangqian and Wang Guangxu, Jushi zhanlue jian lun (A general discussion of military strategy)(n.p.: Jiefangjun chubanshe, 1989), 161-162; and Liu Mingtao and Yang Chengjun, Gao jishu zhanzheng zhong de daodan zhan (Missile wars during high tech warfare)(Beijing: Guofang daxue chubanshe, 1993).

610. Bao Zhongxing, "Jianshe tianjun gouxiang" (The notion of building a space army), in Jundui xiandaihua jianshe, NDU Research Department, Military Construction Research Institute, 431-442. Cited in Alastair Iain Johnston, "China's New 'Old Thinking': The Concept of Limited Deterrence," International Security 20, no. 3 (Winter 1995): 24.

611. Wang Pufeng, Xinxi zhanzheng yu junshi geming (Information warfare and the revolution in military affairs)(Beijing: Junshi kexue chubanshe, 1995); Li Qingshan, Xin junshi geming yu gao jishu zhanzheng (The new revolution in military affairs and high-technology warfare)(Beijing: Junshi kexue chubanshe, 1995); Gao Chunxiang, ed., Xin junshi geming lun (On the new revolution in military affairs)(Beijing: Junshi kexue chubanshe, 1996).

612. Wang Zhenxi, "The New Wave of Military Revolution in the World," Guoji zhanlue yanjiu (International Strategic Studies) 44, no. 2 (April 1997): 2. Wang is a Senior Adviser at CIISS.

613. Shen Qurong "May Earlier Maturity Come to Peace: Thoughts on Asia's Future", Contemporary International Relations 6, no. 9 (September 1966): 11.

614. See chapter five.

615. The importance of innovation in developing the RMA has been stressed by several authors. For example, Colonel Zhang Zhaozhong of NDU has stated, "If we have to face a war, how can we win the next war? Answer: Innovation is the soul of a nation's progress and development, and although China's economic strength does not match that of the developed countries, and our military expenditure cannot reach the level of the western countries, the more that this is so, the more we need the spirit of innovation." Ma Ling, "The Attempt Behind the 'Bombing in Error'--Interview with Renowned Military Commentator Zhang Zhaozhong," Ta Kung Pao (Hong Kong), May 17, 1999, A4, in FBIS-CHI-1999-1518, May 17, 1999. Zhang is Director of the Science and Technology Teaching and Research Section at NDU.

616. Three were entitled, A New Version of the 36 Stratagems, Strategy in the Three Kingdoms Era, and Eastern Zhou Strategies.

617. This highly tentative speculation could help to explain the many Chinese open-source references, recently uncovered by Mark Stokes, to previously unknown Chinese programs to develop laser weapons, antisatellite weapons, high-powered microwave weapons, electric rail guns, and other advanced technologies. Stokes examines them in his forthcoming study for the U.S. Air Force Academy Institute for National Security Studies.

618. Huan Xiang, "Xin jishu geming dui junshi de yingxiang" (The influence of the new technological revolution on military affairs), in Huan Xiang wenji (The collected works of Huan Xiang)(Beijing: Shijie zhishi chubanshe, 1994), 1259. The article was originally published in Jiefangjun bao (Liberation Army Daily), June 7 and 14, 1985. See also Huan Xiang "Xin Jishu geming yu woguo duice" (The new technological revolution and china's decisionmaking), in Huan Xiang wenji, 1074-1088; and Huan Xiang, "Jiefangjun yaoyong yu yinjie xin jishu geming de tiaozhan" (The People's Liberation Army must bravely meet the challenge of the new technological revolution), in Huan Xiang wenji, 1089-1094.

619. See Mi Zhenyu, Zhongguo guofang fazhan gouxiang (China's national defense development concepts)(Beijing: Jiefangjun chubanshe, 1988), in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 361-381.

620. Ibid.

621. Zhang Feng and Libing Yan, "Historical Mission of Soldiers Straddling 21st Century--Roundup of Forum for Experts on How to Meet the Challenge of the World Military Revolution," Jiefangjun bao (Liberation Army Daily), January 2, 1996, 6, in FBIS-CHI-96-061, January 2, 1996.

622. Chang Mengxiong, "21 shiji wuqi he jundui zhanwang," in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 249-260.

623. Ibid.

624. Ibid.

625. Ibid.

626. Shen Zhongchang, Zhang Haiying and Zhou Xinsheng, "21 shiji haizhan chu tan" (21st century naval warfare), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 33, no. 1 (Spring 1995): 28-32, in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 261-274.

627. Ibid.

628. Ibid.

629. Ibid.

630. Ibid.

631. Shen Zhongchang, Zhang Haiying and Zhou Xinsheng, "Xin junshi geming yu haizhan ji haijun jianshe" (The military revolution in naval warfare), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 34, no. 1 (Spring 1996): 57-60, 82, in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 275-284.

632. Ibid.

633. Zheng Shenxia and Zhang Changzhi, "Xin junshi geming yu kongzhong lilian jianshe" (The miliary revolution in air power), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 34, no 1. (Spring 1996): 50-56, in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 297-309.

634. Min Zengfu, "21 shiji kongzhong zhanchang guankui" (21st century air warfare), Zhongguo junshi kexue (China Military Science) 30, no. 1 (Spring 1995): 33-40, in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 285-296.

635. Sun Bailin, "Nanotechnology Weapons on Future Battlefields," National Defense (June 15, 1996), in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 413-420.

636. Zheng Qinsheng, "Military Conflicts in the New Era," Jiefangjun bao (Liberation Army Daily) June 16, 1996, 6, in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 399-407.

637. Chen Huan, "Di san ci junshi geming bijiang chansheng shenyuan yingxiang" (The third military revolution), Xiandai junshi (Contemporary Military Affairs) 30, no. 3 (1996): 8-10, in Pillsbury, Chinese Views of Future Warfare, 389-398.

638. Ibid.

639. Ibid.

640. Gu Guanfu, "Russian Foreign Policy in Evolution," Contemporary International Relations, no. 11 (1994).

641. Zhu Xiaoli and Zhao Xiaozhuo, Mei-E xin junshi geming (America, Russia and the revolution in military affairs)(Beijing: Junshi kexue chubanshe, 1996), 2.

642. Gao Chunxiang, ed., Xinjunshi geming lun (On the new revolution in military affairs)(Beijing: Junshi kexue chubanshe, 1996), 196.