PLA Colonels on "Unrestricted Warfare": Part I

A November 1999 report from U.S. Embassy Beijing

Summary: Two senior PLA Air Force colonels wrote "Unrestricted Warfare", presented here in summary translation, to explore how technology innovation is setting off a revolution in military tactics, strategy and organization. "Unrestricted Warfare" discusses new types of warfare which may be conducted by civilians as well as by soldiers including computer hacker attacks, trade wars and finance wars. "Unrestricted Warfare" provides insight into the thinking of some Chinese military theorists about the impact of science and technological change on China and other countries. Many Chinese books and magazines on military subjects have appeared this year. Overviews of three other recent books by a National Defense University Professor on innovations on the lessons of the Gulf and Kosovo wars along with his reflections on post-Kosovo U.S. - China relations are provided in the appendix to this first of four summaries of "Unrestricted Warfare". End summary. 

High Tech War Removes Military/Civilian Distinctions

Two PLA Air Force senior colonels, Qiao Liang [STC: 0829 5328] of the PLA Air Force Political Department and Wang Xiangsui [STC: 3769 3276 4482] of the Guangzhou Military District PLA Air Force Political Department, published "Unrestricted Warfare" - Assumptions on War and Tactics in the Age of Globalization" in February 1999. Rather than examining new military technologies, the two senior colonels take a step back and discuss how the coming of various new technologies in general is in turn bringing changes in military tactics, strategies and organization. "Unrestricted Warfare" is written in a clear and light-hearted style.

"Unrestricted Warfare" Addresses Economic, Organizational, Human Talent Issues Essential to Innovation, Adaptation

The big picture implications of technological change for the Chinese military in "Unrestricted Warfare" come into perspective when we consider how in both the civilian and military spheres, scientific and technological change depend on far more than science and technology as narrowly defined. The most important applications of new technologies as well as the organizational changes and social and business adaptations needed to make the best use of these technologies are not always apparent at first. Military high technology depends increasingly on the flow of innovations from the civilian economy. In both the civilian and military sectors, it takes time to learn how to use a new technology effectively. Technological change in China as in other societies is often hindered by a variety of economic, social and political obstacles.

Tech Change Bars: Unemployment, Lack of Market Pressure

The slow adaptation of Chinese business to computers over the past two decades is one example. Examinations of the Y2K situation in China show that in many sectors where computers have come into wide use, organizations continue to do business much as they did before. They have not made the radical cuts in their work force that computerization would seem to make possible. Among the reasons may be that many companies, especially state-run enterprises, do not feel the pressure to make painful efficiency improving changes that stockholders demand of market-oriented companies in Western countries.

Other obstacles to technical innovation in China include the need to keep staffing high despite technical innovations, since large employment cuts might threaten social stability. Constant and often unnecessary interference by government in business decisions, especially in northern China, also slow the spread of technological innovations and other best practices. Indeed, the question "why don’t best practices spread" more rapidly is one of the most important questions facing foreign technical assistance programs in China. The answer seems to be the many Chinese walls between and within organizations and the weakness of market incentives compared with the bureaucratic power of the command economy in many areas.

Reform Needed to Stem Brain Drain, Close Twenty Year Lag

Professor Zhang Zhaozhong in his September 1999 book "Who is the Next Target?" (overview in appendix) points to the visa line at the U.S. Embassy as clear evidence of a brain drain and argues that China must reform its system, use human talent more effectively and pay better in order to retain talent. If it does not, Zhang says, China will have great difficulty overcoming its twenty-year lag behind the United States in overall scientific and technological development.

War Books and Articles Widespread This Year

During this year of the Kosovo War, the mistaken bombing of the PRC Embassy in Belgrade and cross-strait tensions, there has been a flood of books and articles about war, military strategy and comparisons of the strengths of mainland and Taiwan forces. Military officers such as the PLA senior colonels who wrote "Unrestricted Warfare" and the very prolific National Defense University Professor Zhang Zhaozhong express more balanced views on U.S. - China relations than some popular Chinese writers.

A Calmer PRC Military View on U.S. - China Relations

The September 1999 "Who is the Next Target" by Zhang Zhaozhong reflects this cooler view in his consideration of the fall of the USSR on p. 127.

"The case of Russia makes us realize that mutually beneficial relations and coexistence with the United States, Japan, France and other big countries are important for all. It is not a matter of one side begging the other since it must be based on national interests and on the fundamental importance of developing our country. It is this that makes relations between countries move forward.

"That there are contradictions and disputes between China and the United States and other countries is normal. Too close a relationship or an alliance is abnormal since every country must always consider its own distinct national interests. International relations are different from personal friendships. Although the Kosovo War occurred and hegemonism and power politics are all too widespread in the world, peace and development are still the main line of development for the twenty-first century.... Yet there are still people in the West who want to destroy us or divide us, so we must think about our national defense and not just about peace, development and making money," wrote Professor Zhang Zhaozhong.

Overview of Three Zhang Zhaozhong Military S and T Books

Three 1999 books by National Defense University Professor Zhang Zhaozhong are described in the appendix below. The three books are:

-- Who Will Win the Next War? (March 1999)

-- How Far is War From Us? (July 1999)

-- Who is the Next Target? (September 1999)

Zhang Zhaozhong, director of the Military Science and Technology Education and Research Office at National Defense University is frequently interviewed in the Chinese media.

The Intersection of EST and Security Issues

Several other Embassy Beijing reports and Chinese press excerpts on the intersection of EST and security issues are available on the U.S. Embassy web page at

These include several reports on information security and a 1998 book by a PLA Navy Captain who sees environmental deterioration and natural resource depletion as China's most important security concerns. 

Publication Information

"Unrestricted Warfare"-Thoughts on War and Strategy in a Global Era [Chaoxianzhan - dui quanqiuhua shidai zhanzheng yu zhanfa de xiangding] by Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui was published February 1999 by People’s Liberation Army Arts Publishers (Address: Jiefangjun Wenyi Chubanshe, Baishiqiao #42, Beijing 100081)

This is the first of a four part summary translation of "Unrestricted Warfare". FBIS began issuing a chapter by chapter translation of "Unrestricted Warfare" after we had nearly completed our summary of the book.

[Page numbers in text below refer to the first edition of "Unrestricted Warfare". Many paragraph headings have been added for the convenience of the reader.]




Advances in science and technology are making dreams come true. Wonderful toys emerge regularly from Bell Labs and from Sony. Bill Gates makes a new version of Windows every year. With the cloning of the sheep "Dolly", mankind seems to be pushing even the Creator aside. The intimidating SU-27 Russian fighter aircraft has never seen battle and the SU-35 fighter is now ready but many have doubts whether it will be a successful airplane. (p. 2, 8) Technology is like a magic slipper. Once the profit motive is involved, all the rest is just clicking your heels and say where you want to go!

Many new technologies arise in many different fields so to say that we live in the nuclear age or the information age is to slight important technologies in other fields. Many new fields such as biotechnology, materials technology and information science interpenetrate each other. New technologies become old technologies very quickly. Perhaps one day a technology that humankind cannot control will emerge and destroy us all. Yet humanity always charges forward searching for newer and better technologies. Solutions to technical problems often bring with them new problems that must be solved. The most important of these new emerging technologies is information technology. Technologies can really no longer be using singly. Information technology helps blend together an array of new technologies. [pp. 3-5]

One Weapon No Longer Dominates: Combinations Rule

Armies need ever-newer technologies and well-trained soldiers who can handle them. In the Gulf War 500 new technologies developed during the 1980s were used. The Gulf War became a showcase of modern weaponry. Yet the most important lesson was not the technologies themselves but the systematization trend to be seen in the development and use of these weapons. Take the "Patriot" missile that intercepted the Scuds. Superficially like shooting birds with a rifle, the process of missile interception is much more complex. It required coordination across half the globe. A satellite acquires the target, sends a warning to a ground station in Australia, which sends a signal by way of the Mount Cheyenne Command Center to the Command Center in Riyadh which orders the Patriot crew to prepare to fire the Patriot missile. This warning stage takes 90 seconds. Many weapons systems now overcome barriers to time and space: something unimaginable before the rise of information technology. Before World War II a single weapon could bring about a revolution in military affairs. No longer. Now no one weapon dominates.  

What is War? Are Hacker Attacks and CNN Weapons?

The blending of technologies for war in the global era have ended the dominance of weapons in war. From this new baseline the relations of weapons to war have changed and made the concept of war itself vague. Is a hacker attack an act of war? Is using financial tools to destroy a country’s economy and act of war? Did the CNN report of the body of an American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia sap the will of Americans to send their soldiers out to be the policemen of the world and so change the world strategic balance? When we decide just what is an act of war do we look at methods or effects? According to the conventional definition of war, there is no way to come to a satisfactory answer to these questions.

When we consider that any one of these non-war activities could be elements of the new kind war of the future we have to give this new kind of war that transcends boundaries and limits: "Unrestricted Warfare".  

"Unrestricted Warfare": Military/Civilian Distinctions Break Down

"Unrestricted Warfare" means that any methods can be prepared for use, information is everywhere, the battlefield is everywhere, and that any technology might be combined with any other technology, and that the boundaries between war and non-war and between military and non-military affairs has systematically broken down. [pp. 6-7]  

Book One On New War

Chapter 1 The Revolution in Weaponry Came First

The revolution in weaponry created the conditions for a revolution in military affairs. Every new weapon creates the possibility of new tactics and strategy. This was true for the crossbow, for gunpowder just as it is for the high technology weapons of today. Once a single new weapon could bring about a revolution in military affairs. Now, since more and more weapons have been invented, the importance of any one weapon has decreased. Excluding the use of nuclear weapons, of course, which as time goes by seems more and more unlikely. It is not simply a matter of high tech warfare" or "information warfare". What is high tech? Logically high tech means something in relation to something else that is low tech. So it is a relative term. The M-60 tank and the B-52 bomber, as products of the technology of the 1960s and 1970s (sic) are low tech compared with the Abrams tank, the F-117 and the Patriot missile. Yet these high tech weapons look out of date compared with the B-2, the F-22, and the Comanche helicopter. Technology constantly changes, so what is high tech? [pp. 12- 13]

Adding information components to all weapons does not an information war make. These might be called informatized weapons. The F-22 for all its informatized functions is still a fighter plane. Informatized warfare in its broad sense and information war in the narrow sense are two completely different things. The former uses information functionality to strengthen existing weapons; the latter uses information as a tool or suppresses information in order to fight a war. An excessive stress on information technologies just puts money into Bill Gates’ pocket and neglects other important rising technologies such as materials technology and biotechnology. [p. 14]

Use Your Weapons to Fight Or Make Weapons to Suit

"Uses the weapons you have to fight a war" and "Depending upon the war that you will fight create the weapons that you will need" are two very different conceptions that illustrate the difference between the wars of the past and the wars of the future. Now "use the weapons you have to fight a war" is still very important. Finding the optimal combination of weapons available and using them to their maximum effectiveness is essential. It is not just backward countries that take do this actively. The U.S. as well needs to do this if it is to fight a modern, expensive war. The only difference between the backward country in the United States in the choice that it is forced to make is that the United States has more to choose from.

Synergies Between Different Generation Weapons Powerful

Finding the right combination of weapons can not only make up for the weaknesses of different generations of weapons, it can be a "force multiplier" of weapons effectiveness. One example is the use of the B-52 bomber as it neared the end of its service life as a launching platform for cruise missiles and other precision guided weapons. An A-10 aircraft with infrared missiles attached to its exterior gains a night attack capability it never had before. Moreover, combining the A-10 with the Apache helicopter makes a tremendously effective fighting force. [15 – 16]

Better and Better Weapons Selections on World Markets

The weapons markets of today feature and ever expanding array of weapons and many sources for weapons. These channels make a wide range of choices possible. Different generations of weapons can be combined to breakthrough old prejudices about weapon generation, use, and combinations of weapons. The obsolete weapon can become a wonder weapon. A superstitious belief that the very latest weapon is needed to fight modern war might lead paradoxically to a situation in which the wonder weapon turns out to be a dud. We are in a transitional period in a weapons revolution from which explosive power as the measure of a weapon to a new period in which the information is measure of a weapon. We have no way of predicting how long this period will last. Until the transition to the next stage is complete, any country, including the United States deciding what weapons to use to fight which war will be the determine the relationship between weapons and the fighting of wars. Although this principle is the most fundamental one, it is perhaps not an eternal principle. [17]

From Random Discovery to Directed Research

The progress of scientific and technological progress is less and less driven passively by discoveries that come along and more and more by directed research. The "depending upon the war that you will fight, create the weapons that you will need" that the Americans propose has brought about the biggest change in the relationship between weapons and tactics since war began. In first deciding how a war will be fought and then developing weapons, the Americans "ate their first crab" in the "integrated air-land battlefield". The "digitized battlefield" and the "digitized combat units" are the first efforts in this direction. This method is threatening the rule that changes in weaponry always precede revolutions in military affairs. A new interactive relationship between weapons and tactics is emerging. The meaning of weapons is also changing. No longer are isolated weapons but rather weapons systems are being developed. The F-111 was not able to be used effectively in combination with other weapons and became an expensive lesson. The idea that one or two weapons alone will be the killer weapons that will destroy enemies has become obsolete.

High Tech Units Vulnerable to Low Tech Adversaries

"Depending upon the war that you will fight, create the weapons that you will need" is a two-edged sword. It offers active choices and a method to confront a vast array of possibilities. It is a great breakthrough in military history yet it also conceals with itself a great hazard of modern warfare. Who are you fighting? The U.S. military in Somalia found that it could not handle crowds on the street as it tried to fight an enemy that used unconventional tactics. On the battlefield of the future, a digitized units might guerilla units that use unconventional tactics. The further apart the generations of military technology used by opposing sides, the harder it is for them to fight to a resolution. High tech troops have difficulty fighting unconventional wars and opponents fighting low-tech wars. [pp. 17 – 18]

[Note on p. 31 on this section: (12) In the November 1998 issue of "National Defense University Journal" Chen Bojiang discusses his interview with Chairman Philip Aodien [?] of the Defense Subcommittee of the U.S. Congress. During the interview, Aodien said several times that the greatest threat to the United States is "asymmetric war".]

New Concept Weapons and Weapons Concepts

Nearly all the weapons that have been invented up to the present day can be called old concept weapons. The old concept means that a weapons can be characterized adequately by its mobility and its destructiveness. Even high tech weapons like precision guided bombs are just weapons to which some intelligent functionality has been added. These kinds of weapons are designed to be used by professional soldiers on a well-defined battlefield. Yet these weapons and weapons platforms are a dead end as far as the wars of the future are concerned. These efforts to gild conventional weapons with high tech are doomed by the massive spending in high tech arms races.

USSR Lesson: High Tech Arms Race Brought Bankruptcy

In order to maintain weapons superiority ever-higher sums must be spent. Which no nation can afford in the end. The final result is that the weapons built to defend the country end up driving the country into bankruptcy. The Soviet military theorist Aoerjiakefu was the first to see the coming revolution in military affairs. Yet his far-sightedness paradoxically was one of the factor that drove the USSR into bankruptcy by accelerating the arms race with the United States and so leading to unsustainable Soviet military spending. A great empire collapse without a shot being fired just as Gibbons wrote: an empire ends with a whimper, not with a roar.

But the U.S. Is Making the Same Mistake

The United States is walking down the same path as the USSR. Each new generation of weapons costs more to develop and produce. The F-15s and F-16s of the 1960s and 70s cost USD 1 billion, the B2 USD 10 billion and the F-22 USD 13 billion. The B-2 bomber at USD 1.3 billion each cost three times their weight in gold. Weapons such as the Comanche helicopter is making the arms of the U.S. [pp. 19 – 20]

An Unfortunate U.S. Lead in Both Technology And Its Applications

New concept weapons are cropping up everywhere. What is a little unfair is that the Americans lead in this area, too. The U.S. used silver iodide powder and defoliants to help detect soldiers walking on the Ho Chi Minh trail during the Vietnam War. The combination of technical strength and financial resources makes the U.S. unparalleled in this area. Although Americans are good at making new concept weapons, they are especially good at coming up with new weapons concepts – using the weapons in original ways. That requires a systematic and philosophical thinking not the strength of the Americans who are practical people good at coming up with new technologies.

Methods of Attack: Viruses, Finance Are Also Weapons

New weapons concepts are completely different from new concept weapons. New weapons concepts is a broad conception of weapons that transcends the military field – whatever method can be used to fight a war is a weapon. In this view, whatever provides benefits to mankind can also be turned around to be a weapon to harm mankind. That is to say that there is nothing in the world that cannot become a weapon. This smashes our conception of just what a weapon is. Just as technology is multiplying the number of different kinds of weapons, new thinking breaks down the distinction between weapon and non-weapon. To our way of thinking, a planned stock market crash, a computer virus attack, making the currency exchange rate of an enemy country erratic, and spreading rumors on the Internet about the leaders of an enemy country can all be thought of as new concept weapons. This new way of thinking puts weapons into the daily lives of civilians. New concept weapons can make of war something that even military professionals will find hard to imagine. Both soldiers and civilians will be disturbed to see items in their everyday lives become weapons that can attack and kill. [pp. 21 – 22]

The Merciful Trend in Weapons

Until the atomic bomb came on the stage, wars were fought in an environment in which the power to kill and injure the enemy was scarce. The history of weaponry is the story of a steady increase in killing and destruction capability. After the mushroom cloud rose over the plains of New Mexico, military people got the power to totally destroy their enemies hundreds and thousands of times over. They had an excess of killing power for the first time in history.

Historical Trend Towards Killing Power Ended With Bomb: Now Pendulum Swings Towards Less Killing Power

There is a principle in philosophy that whenever something reaches its extreme, it must then reverse its direction. [Note: in Chinese the famous adage "wuji bifan". End note] Nuclear weapons were a dead end. What good is it to destroy enemies a thousand times over and to destroy the Earth? Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) and the Balance of Terror are the results of that situation. A new trend appeared in weaponry, towards greater precision and control. After the Second World War, revulsion at the destructiveness of nuclear weapons resulted in a taboo against their use. Moreover, technology made it increasingly possible to attack the heart of an enemy with less damage. More options made it possible for the goal to become establishing control over rather than killing and maiming the enemy. War concepts and weapons concepts changed. The idea of forcing an unconditional surrender through unlimited killing and wars with battles like Verdun became obsolete. [pp. 23 – 24]

Wounding Soldiers Can Be More Effective Than Killing

Precision and non-lethal weapons appeared. The weapons development goal was not strength but "greater mercy". A precision weapon hits on target and causes less collateral damage in a surgical strike. An example is the way the Russians used a cellular telephone signal and a guided missile to close forever the mouth of the Chechen leader Tudayafu [transliteration]. Non-lethal weapons destroy the combat capability of soldiers and weapons but does not kill people. In the Gulf War, the number of Iraqi civilians numbered just a few thousand – far fewer than were killed in the bombing of Dresden during the Second World War. A tank might be defeated by explosives or by lasers than blinds the soldiers in the tank. On a battlefield, an enemy is burdened more by the wounded who need assistance than by the dead, who need none. Wounding rather than killing soldiers creates terror in other soldiers and potent anti-war propaganda for the people back home. Yet we should not fall into the trap of thinking that "merciful weapons" will eventually lead to bloodless wars played on computers.

[Note: Footnotes on this chapter on pp. 28 – 33 have abundant references to American military writings on these subjects. End note]

The Face of The God of War Is Hard To Discern

Ever since hunters turned their hunting weapons into weapons of war, war has been composed of three elements: soldiers, weapons and battlefields. This is all changing now. According to Clausewitz, "War is the extension of politics." Yet wars have been fought for many reasons. The Opium War Britain fought against China must have been the biggest state drug promotion campaign of all history. Hitler fought for living room for the German people. The Japanese fought for their East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. With the end of the Cold War many have had to face the difficult question, "Who is the enemy?" The old Cold War slogans have lost their force. Now alliances shift frequently. The U.S. helped Iran fight Iraq, but shortly thereafter Iran became the enemy of the U.S. The old saying is still true: "Countries have no eternal friends, only eternal interests." We can see this in the war over the Iraqi conquest of Kuwait. The U.S. and other allied countries (and the soldiers fighting) called it a war to liberate Kuwait, but actually it was fought over Middle East oil. In war, often the ostensible objective and the actual objective are two different things. [pp. 34 – 38]

Where is War Fought?

Technology has changed where the battlefields are. The First World War was fought in trenches along a very long line. The old battlefields of barbed wire and machine guns were slaughterhouses. Rapid advances in technology has moved war from two to three dimensions. New weapons give rise to new strategies. The British General John Fredrich Fuller showed this for tanks in his classic "Tanks in the Great War" as did the Italian Guilio Douhet did for airpower in his book "The Conquest of the Air" and the Russian Tuheqiefusuji [transliteration] for coordinated command on the battlefield. Ludendorff who fought the Russian in Poland and the Western powers at Verdun was a proponent of total war both on and off the battlefield. In World War II Hitler didn’t realize that he was making a strategic revolution when in using long range missiles like the V-1 and the V-2 he erased the boundary between the battlefront and the rear. Advances in technology due to satellites, submarines, electromagnetic radiation and guided missiles have further extended the battlefield to nearly every corner of our world.  

The Battlefield is Everywhere

The combination of weapons systems can create a new kind of technical space – a new battlefield that never existed before. Electronic and information technologies have created a net space, which can become a battlefield. The battlefield extends simultaneously at the micro, medium-range and macro level as well as in various hybrid technical spaces in ways in never did before. The proliferation of weapons and technologies has blurred the distinction between the soldiers and civilians and between the battlefield and the non-battlefield. The battlefield is everywhere. From a computer room or on from the trading floor of a stock exchange a lethal attack on a foreign country can be launched. In such a world is there anywhere that is not a battlefield? Where is the battlefield? It is everywhere. [pp. 38 – 42] 

Who Will Fight the Wars of the Future? Bookworms?

Beginning with the "one million man reduction" in the size of the Chinese military in 1985, the militaries of the world have been reducing their manpower. Some said this was because of the end of the Cold War. Yet the more important reason was the technical revolution that made large armies inefficient and made a smaller force with higher technical training more effective than a larger force. The new technology changed military thinking and the theory of war. In the new world in which even nuclear war may become an obsolete concept, the near-sighted bookworm may be a better candidate for the soldier of the future than a big, powerfully built person. One example may be a September 1995 U.S. Defense Department test in which a USAF officer with a computer and modem broke into a U.S. Navy command and control center.  

Distant Attacks By Soldiers Who Don't Get Their Hands Dirty

Rapidly changing technologies is creating a big generation gap in militaries. The generation gap is manifesting itself both physically and mentally. Even the West Point "beast barracks" may not be able to drum out of these young people the weak, scholarly tendency rooted in them by contemporary society. Attacks beyond visual range make it possible to make a bloody attack on the enemy all without getting one’s clothes dirty. The digital solder of tomorrow is weakening the position of the old blood and iron warrior of tradition more than ever before. [pp. 42 – 43]  

Civilian Elite's Role in War Does Not Make For Mao's People's War

Information technologies have transformed the division of labor in industrial society. War is no longer the preserve of professional soldiers. The increasing involvement of civilians in war is far from the "People’s War" of Mao Zedong’s theory since it is not the masses of people but a technically-trained elite of civilians that is getting involved in military affairs. Who will play the main role in the next war? Professional military people or civilian technicians? The first and strongest challenge to appear thus far is from the computer hackers. Hackers, mostly people without military training who rely only on their own technical skills, easily penetrate military and national security computer systems. In 1994 a 16-year old hacker in England penetrated some U.S. military and government systems. An attack by a 16 year old is not an act of war. But how then do we determine what an act of war is? What is a civilian action and what is a non-professional military act of war? How many of the 230,000 of attacks on U.S. DoD computer systems in 1994 were organized? There is no way to know. [p. 44] 

Hackers, Net Users Have Own Rules, Great Power

Computer networks have greater and greater influences on world affairs. Hackers and many non-hackers wandering on the computer networks of the world act according to their own ethics – they are not bound by the playing rules of society at large. They can use the web to challenge evil. One example is the eyewitness to attacks on ethnic Chinese in Indonesia by the Chinese military who broke the Suharto government’s information embargo by putting a report on the web that woke up the world to these atrocities. The Indonesian military stood accused before the world. A hacker called MilwOrm as a protest against Indian atomic bomb tests broke into the India Atomic Research Center web site, changed the web page and downloaded 5 megabytes of data. A hacker might in some cases have the same impact as an atomic bomb. [p. 45] 

Non-State Organization Threat: Terrorists, U.S. Militias

Some non-state organizations are bigger threats to the world than hackers are. These include the Islamic Jihad, the civilian militias of the United States, the Omu Church of Japan, and Ben Laden who blew up the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. A state using limited means has great difficulty defeating a non-state organization willing to use unlimited means. These non-state organizations and non-professional soldiers have carried out a number of military activities but also a number of non-military wars. These people are not always hackers – they might be computer systems analysts, software engineers, stock manipulators, financiers who move vast amounts of capital internationally, or mass media kings and even newspaper columnists or TV hosts. These people have their own beliefs that they hold no less strongly than Ben Laden does. From this perspective, how can one deny that George Soros is a financial terrorist?

[Note: Mainstream Chinese economists do not see George Soros as a "financial terrorist". A Chinese economist told ESTOFF Chinese economists argued against Malaysian colleagues holding this view in a 1998 Hong Kong conference on the Asian Economic Crisis. Chinese bookstores today have several admiring biographies of George Soros. Some Chinese journalists and policymakers probably share the view of the authors, however. End note] 

Today's Soldiers Are Becoming Fading Dinosaurs

Modern technology has transformed weapons and the battlefield and made fuzzy the concept of the combatant. Global terrorists, non-professional combatants, and non-state organizations are a growing threat to sovereign states. Faced with these threats, the professional solider of today resembles the great, powerful but poorly adapted dinosaur.

[pp. 46 – 47]




Appendix One: Recent Books by Professor Zhang Zhaozhong of National Defense University

Who Will Win the Next War? [Shei neng ying xia yi chang zhanzheng] [published by China Youth Press [Zhongguo Qingnian Chubanshe], March 1999

How Far is War From Us? [Zhangzheng Li Women you duoyuan] published by PLA Publishing House, July 1999 (580 pages)

Who is the Next Target?, [Xia yige mubiao shi shei?] published by China Youth Press (404 pages)

An Overview of "Who Will Win the Next War"

Who Will Win the Next War by Zhang Zhaozhong published in March, 1999 by Youth Publishing House. This book, published in March 1999 is by a prominent PRC defense analyst. Zhang Zhaozhong served for 30 years in the PRC Navy and is now is a professor and director of the S&T Research Office at National Defense University. Zhang examines the latest weapons technologies as they were used in December 1998 against Iraq and in the Gulf War. The greatest threat comes now from the air. Zhang discusses "fire and forget" missiles, laser weapons, stealth weaponry, and the recent revival from the ashes of the old Star Wars plan. Zhang discusses the lessons of the six nation naval semi-annual exercises held around Hawaii in July-August 1998.

Will aircraft carriers be obsolete in the 21st Century? Mushroom clouds over South Asia: India and Pakistan. Chinese scientists have shown that superstitions like Nostradamus’ prediction that the world will end on August 19, 1999 are wrong. Peace and stability look to be the main trends in the early 21st century, so a major war is unlikely and many of the big countries continue to reduce their armaments and military budgets, but some military confrontations are quite possible. How will China face the Pacific Century? The Pacific Ocean isn’t very pacific: the U.S. depends on island bases as unsinkable aircraft carriers. How should China prepare to win the next war? Continued reform is essential to building China’s strength. The 1300 page April 1992 U.S. DoD final report on the Gulf War gives excellent insights into U.S. military thinking and strategy. The increasing stress on high technology weaponry is clear. The U.S. is building the informatized military of the 21st Century and using reorganization to boost effectiveness.

China should shift its focus from weapons quantity to weapons quality. Government decision makers and technical advisory departments should be kept distinct in order to avoid conflicts of interest. Military authority should not be divided by service but rather all military elements in a certain region should be under a unified command. This will be especially important in the task of protecting China’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone and 350 km continental shelf zone that became effective when the UN Law of the Sea officially took effect in 1994. Strengthening military procurement and merging military and civilian product standards so that the military can procure from the civilian market is an important trend of the 1990s.


An Overview of "How Far is War From Us?" from the PLA Publishing House

"How Far is War From Us?" is mostly technical and drawing largely from open U.S. sources (including internet sites) such as the U.S. Department of Defense "Defense Science and Technology Strategy for 2000 – 2005" published in 1996. The book also addresses broader themes such as the information revolution, the technological wave theories of Alvin Toffler ("The Third Wave") and other information age theorists.

[Note: Alvin Toffler's books and theories are very well known in China. Toffler may well be more frequently cited in China than in the U.S. End note]

Long sections of the "How Far is War From Us?" are focus on the basics of C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, information, monitoring and reconnaissance), information warfare, the informatization of equipment such as tanks, ships and aircraft. The book also addresses issues such as new strategy, new tactics and new ways of organizing military forces.

The non-Chinese familiar with the English language literature will find the last section the most interesting one. Although this chapter like others, relies heavily on foreign literature, the lessons that the Zhang wants China to draw are clear. One specifically Chinese issue (p. 530 ff) is the advantage of monetarizing military benefits so that soldiers can arrange for housing and their children’s education on the market rather than being part of a military subculture separate from society.


Overview of "Who is the Next Target?"

Themes addressed in chapters of "Who is the Next Target" include:

Lessons of the Kosovo War: Serbia used decoys effectively so its tank losses were far less than NATO thought. Serbia built many fake as well as real tank shelters along its highways: China should consider similar tactics. Serbia gave in not because of the NATO attack but because of the position taken by Russia on Kosovo. The greatest difference between the Gulf War and Kosovo were the causes of the war. The Gulf War was a response to the invasion of Kuwait. The Kosovo war was a totally unjustified NATO intervention in the purely internal affairs of Yugoslavia.

A review of 50 years of NATO. Is it creating a new Cold War? The Warsaw Pact dissolved but NATO didn’t. France and Germany have their own ideas and may differ with the USA on important issues in the future. The new "NATO Strategic Concept for the Twenty-First Century"(p. 47) has troubling aspects. NATO is changing from a military to a military-political organization and from focusing on protecting the territorial integrity of member states to preventing "new threats" to European security such as terrorism. As NATO expands eastwards who will be its next target?

As Samuel Huntington remarked, the US is becoming more and more isolated (p. 51, 69) and is accumulating more and more enemies. Are the Americans really as wealthy and powerful as Chinese people think? Then why would they give that tremendous insult to China by attacking its embassy? (p. 57) That was just another case of acting after their embassies were blow up in Africa – they went and hit civilian targets in Sudan and Afghanistan just to show how strong and how dominant they are. This U.S. hegemonism is all about constraining other nations but what force is there to put constraints on the United States? Will Russia be able to constrain the U.S. over the next twenty years? That is not the right question to ask. Ask instead "Will Russia be able to avoid a steep decline so that it becomes just another developing country – and a developing country that ranks behind China at that."

Will sleeping giant Russia awake?. The Russia –Belarus alliance left Yugoslavia out in the cold (p. 86). The deterioration of the Russian forces raises the question: "Can the Russian military fight?" The Russian deployment in Kosovo made headlines but that the fact that the Russian troops had to depend on the UK troops for food didn’t.

What is the lesson of Russia? (p. 127) The case of Russia makes us realize that mutually beneficial relations and coexistence with the United States, Japan, France and other big countries are important for all. It is not a matter of one side begging the other since it must be based on national interests and on the fundamental importance of developing our country. It is this that makes relations between countries move forward.

That there are contradictions and disputes between China and the United States and other countries is normal. Too close a relationship or an alliance is abnormal since every country must always consider its own distinct national interests. International relations are different from personal friendships. Although there was a Kosovo War and hegemonism and power politics are all too widespread in the world, peace and development are still the main line of development for the twenty-first century.... Yet there are still people in the West who want to destroy us or divide us so we must think about our national defense and not just about peace, development and making money.

Disagreements on human rights between the U.S. and China arise from differences in history, culture, and level of development, outlook and social system.

What wins wars? In the end not the weapons but the people, whoever can combine people and high tech most effectively wins. Example: (p. 238) Only 20 percent of the U.S. guided missiles reached their targets. How did the Yugoslavs do it? Scouts on mountaintops saw missile launches from ships, relayed the information to the Yugoslav command. Then everyone shot at the missiles with rifles, machine guns, revolvers – everything. Many were shot down. Chairman Mao (p. 244) used strategy to win against armies with superior weaponry. The same principle applies today.

The Chinese people are waking up. The backward get kicked around. Only if China develops and become a strong country will it be able to take its place in the world, said Deng Xiaoping. The Chinese people are becoming much more concerned about national defense issues (p. 267). Just look at the people in line for visas at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing – all that student talent built by China is going off to the USA. Part of the problem is the system, part is the way human talents are used, part is low pay – China needs to solve this problem. China spends too little on science and technology, a key basis of military strength. China is at least twenty years behind the United States in its overall scientific and technological development.