China’s White Pa­per on Na­tional Mil­i­tary Strat­egy

At the global level China is con­cerned about the US which is car­ry­ing on its ‘re­bal­anc­ing’ strat­egy and is en­hanc­ing its mil­i­tary pres­ence and its mil­i­tary al­liances in this re­gion

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral V.K. Kapoor (Retd)

At the global level China is con­cerned about the US which is car­ry­ing on its ‘re­bal­anc­ing’ strat­egy and is en­hanc­ing its mil­i­tary pres­ence and its mil­i­tary al­liances in this re­gion.

THE RISE OF CHINA as an eco­nomic su­per­power and its eco­nomic su­pe­ri­or­ity over the West has im­pacted upon the world in dif­fer­ent ways. The whole world is won­der­ing how China will lever­age its eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal power in the fu­ture and this will be in­deed one of the most im­por­tant fac­tors in de­ter­min­ing the se­cu­rity dy­nam­ics of Asia in the 21st cen­tury. It is in this con­text that the China’s first White Pa­per on Na­tional Mil­i­tary Strat­egy in May 2015 is rel­e­vant and vi­tal for a broader un­der­stand­ing of their aims and as­pi­ra­tions, and the thrust and di­rec­tion of their mil­i­tary mod­erni­sa­tion.

China’s Des­tiny

Some western observers seem to sug­gest that the pa­per re­flects a new Chi­nese ag­gres­sive­ness, es­pe­cially in con­nec­tion with ten­sions in the South China Sea. A de­tailed pe­rusal, how­ever, sug­gests that the doc­u­ment is not a re­sponse to cur­rent events, but rather it is a strate­gic plan which de­fines their fu­ture thrust ar­eas for ac­quir­ing new mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties. A close read­ing of the pa­per re­veals many re­mark­able as­pects. Some of these as­pects are ex­plained in the suc­ceed­ing para­graphs.

China read­ily ac­cepts that its des­tiny is tied to the des­tiny of the whole world. This is ob­vi­ous be­cause its econ­omy de­pends upon the mar­kets all over the world more­over its in­or­di­nately high re­quire­ment of oil and gas is also de­pen­dent upon the energy rich na­tions of the world which re­quires a strong healthy po­lit­i­cal re­la­tion­ship with all con­cerned. Hence China feels that a pros­per­ous and sta­ble world would pro­vide China with op­por­tu­ni­ties, while China’s peace­ful de­vel­op­ment also of­fers an op­por­tu­nity for the whole world.

At the global level China is con­cerned about the US which is car­ry­ing on its ‘re­bal­anc­ing’ strat­egy and is en­hanc­ing its mil­i­tary pres­ence and its mil­i­tary al­liances in this re­gion. It is also wary of Ja­pan which is now over­haul­ing its mil­i­tary struc­ture and poli­cies. It is crit­i­cal of the coun­tries which have mar­itime claims in South China Sea. It con­tin­ues its claims on the re­uni­fi­ca­tion of Tai­wan and what it calls as na­tional re­ju­ve­na­tion.

At the re­gional level its pos­ses­sive at­ti­tude and ag­gres­sive­ness about the South China Sea is ob­vi­ous from the state­ment: Some ex­ter­nal coun­tries are also busy med­dling in South China Sea af­fairs; a tiny few main­tain con­stant close-in air and sea sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais­sance against China.

Se­cu­rity Chal­lenges

China feels that with the growth of its na­tional se­cu­rity it is more vul­ner­a­ble to in­ter­na­tional and re­gional tur­moil, ter­ror­ism, piracy, se­ri­ous nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and epi­demics, and the se­cu­rity of over­seas in­ter­ests con­cern­ing energy and re­sources, strate­gic sea lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion (SLOCs), as well as in­sti­tu­tions, per­son­nel and as­sets abroad, has be­come an im­mi­nent is­sue.

The White Pa­per fo­cuses on the new revo­lu­tion in mil­i­tary tech­nol­ogy (RMA) in­volv­ing long-range, pre­cise, smart, stealthy and un­manned weapons and equip­ment, outer space and cy­ber space is­sues and the im­por­tance of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in fu­ture wars and there­fore refers to the restruc­tur­ing of mil­i­tary forces and the trans­for­ma­tion re­quired.

China has spelt out its na­tional aim of a mod­er­ately pros­per­ous so­ci­ety by 2021 and a mod­ern so­cial­ist coun­try that is pros­per­ous, strong, demo­cratic, cul­tur­ally ad­vanced and har­mo­nious by 2049 when the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China (PRC) marks its cen­te­nary.

Tasks for Armed Forces

To­wards the ful­fil­ment of the aims given above it sees the fol­low­ing strate­gic tasks for the armed forces: To deal with a wide range of emer­gen­cies and mil­i­tary threats, and ef­fec­tively safe­guard the sovereignty and se­cu­rity of China’s ter­ri­to­rial land, air and sea. To res­o­lutely safe­guard the uni­fi­ca­tion of the mother­land. To safe­guard China’s se­cu­rity and in­ter­ests in new do­mains. To safe­guard the se­cu­rity of China’s over­seas in­ter­ests. To main­tain strate­gic deter­rence and carry out nu­clear coun­ter­at­tack. To par­tic­i­pate in re­gional and in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion and main­tain re­gional and world peace. To strengthen ef­forts in oper­a­tions against in­fil­tra­tion, sep­a­ratism and ter­ror­ism so as to main­tain China’s po­lit­i­cal se­cu­rity and so­cial sta­bil­ity. To per­form such tasks as emer­gency res­cue and dis­as­ter re­lief, rights and in­ter­ests pro­tec­tion, guard du­ties, and sup­port for na­tional eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment.

Strate­gic Thought

As far as its strate­gic thought is con­cerned, it con­tin­ues to ad­vo­cate the strate­gic con­cept of ac­tive de­fence which it states is the essence of the CPC’s mil­i­tary strate­gic thought. It ex­plains that from the long ex­pe­ri­ence of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary wars the peo­ple’s armed forces have de­vel­oped a com­plete set of strate­gic con­cepts of ac­tive de­fence, which es­sen­tially are: ad­her­ence to the unity of strate­gic de­fence and op­er­a­tional and tac­ti­cal of­fense; ad­her­ence to the prin­ci­ples of de­fence, self-de­fence and post-emp­tive strike; and ad­her­ence to the stance that “We will not at­tack un­less we are at­tacked, but we will surely coun­ter­at­tack if at­tacked.”

In 2004, the strate­gic guide­line for ac­tive de­fence enu­mer­ated in 1993 was mod­i­fied. PMS which means mak­ing prepa­ra­tion for mil­i­tary strug­gle was mod­i­fied in 2004 to win­ning lo­cal wars un­der con­di­tions of in­for­ma­tion­i­sa­tion (their term for this era of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy). China also seems to have ac­cepted that the fu­ture wars will de­mand use of in­te­grated com­bat forces to pre­vail in sys­tem-ver­sus-sys­tem oper­a­tions fea­tur­ing in­for­ma­tion dom­i­nance, pre­ci­sion strikes and joint oper­a­tions.

Ca­pa­bil­i­ties that China Wants to Ac­quire

The ca­pa­bil­i­ties that it wants to ac­quire ser­vice wise are given be­low:

In keep­ing with the strate­gic re­quire­ment of mo­bile oper­a­tions and multi-di­men­sional of­fense and de­fence, the PLA Army (PLAA) is look­ing at trans-theater mo­bil­ity. It will fo­cus on build­ing small, mul­ti­func­tional and mod­u­lar units, and will adapt it­self to tasks in dif­fer­ent re­gions, de­velop the ca­pac­ity for dif­fer­ent types of war­fare in­clud­ing joint oper­a­tions. PLA Navy (PLAN) is shift­ing its fo­cus from ‘ off­shore wa­ters de­fence’ to the com­bi­na­tion of ‘off­shore wa­ters de­fense’ with ‘open seas pro­tec­tion,’ and build a com­bined, multi-func­tional and ef­fi­cient marine com­bat force struc­ture. It is look­ing at en­hanc­ing its ca­pa­bil­i­ties for strate­gic deter­rence and coun­ter­at­tack, mar­itime ma­noeu­vres, joint oper­a­tions at sea, com­pre­hen­sive de­fence and com­pre­hen­sive sup­port, thus ac­quir­ing blue wa­ter ca­pa­bil­ity. The PLA Air Force (PLAAF) is shift­ing fo­cus from ter­ri­to­rial air de­fence to both de­fence and of­fense, and build an aerospace force struc­ture that can meet the re­quire­ments of in­for­ma­tionised oper­a­tions. The PLA Sec­ond Ar­tillery Force (PLASAF) will strengthen its ca­pa­bil­i­ties for strate­gic deter­rence and nu­clear coun­ter­at­tack, and medium- and long-range pre­ci­sion strikes. The Peo­ples Armed Po­lice Force (PAPF) will en­hance its ca­pa­bil­i­ties for per­form­ing diver­si­fied tasks cen­ter­ing on guard duty and con­tin­gency re­sponse in in­for­ma­tionised con­di­tions.

Mar­itime Force: It is em­pha­sis­ing on the need to de­velop a mod­ern mar­itime mil­i­tary force struc­ture com­men­su­rate with its na­tional se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment in­ter­ests in­clud­ing over­seas in­ter­ests, thus it at­tempt­ing to build­ing it­self into a mar­itime power.

Outer Space: It is also keep­ing it­self abreast of the dy­nam­ics of outer space, deal with se­cu­rity threats and chal­lenges in that do­main, and se­cure its space as­sets to serve its na­tional eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment, and main­tain outer space se­cu­rity.

Cy­ber: It is ex­pe­dit­ing the de­vel­op­ment of a cy­ber force, and en­hances its ca­pa­bil­i­ties of cy­berspace sit­u­a­tion aware­ness, cy­ber de­fence to sup­port the coun­try’s en­deav­ours in cy­berspace.

Nu­clear Force Struc­ture: It is op­ti­mis­ing its nu­clear force struc­ture, im­prov­ing strate­gic early warn­ing, com­mand and con­trol, mis­sile pen­e­tra­tion, rapid re­ac­tion, and sur­viv­abil­ity and pro­tec­tion, with a view to de­ter­ring other coun­tries from us­ing or threat­en­ing to use nu­clear weapons against China.

Lo­gis­tic Sys­tem: It is also at­tempt­ing to build a lo­gis­tics sys­tem that can pro­vide sup­port for fight­ing and win­ning mod­ern wars, serve the mod­erni­sa­tion of the armed forces, and trans­form to­wards in­for­ma­tion­i­sa­tion.

Train­ing: As far as train­ing is con­cerned China wants to im­prove in­sti­tu­tional ed­u­ca­tion, unit train­ing and mil­i­tary pro­fes­sional ed­u­ca­tion, so as to pool more tal­ented peo­ple and cul­ti­vate more per­son­nel who can meet the de­mands of in­for­ma­tionised war­fare.

Ad­vanced Mil­i­tary The­o­ries: It is also fo­cus­ing on de­vel­op­ing the­o­ries so as to bring into place a sys­tem of ad­vanced mil­i­tary the­o­ries com­men­su­rate with the re­quire­ment of win­ning fu­ture wars.

Pre­pared­ness/Readi­ness for War

In keep­ing with the com­plex strate­gic re­quire­ment China’s armed forces are look­ing at in­no­va­tive ways of pre­par­ing for and achiev­ing readi­ness for fu­ture wars which it calls PMS in both tra­di­tional (con­ven­tional) war­fare and new in se­cu­rity do­mains (new chal­lenges such as ter­ror­ism, space and cy­ber). Keep­ing these threats and chal­lenges in mind, it is adapt­ing it­self to the up­grad­ing of weapons and equip­ment as well as changes in or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­tures and doc­trines.

In­dia’s Po­si­tion

While the stated po­si­tion of China is of peace­ful de­vel­op­ment but many coun­tries are not pre­pared to ac­cept this stated po­si­tion. In­dia is fac­ing China’s in­creas­ing claims on its ter­ri­tory in which they now claim the en­tire In­dian state of Arunachal Pradesh as a part of South­ern Ti­bet. While China has re­solved its bound­ary dis­putes (less mar­itime bound­aries) with al­most all its neigh­bours, there is lit­tle progress in the case of In­dia, de­spite the upgra­da­tion of bound­ary talks to the po­lit­i­cal level. A dis­tinct hard­en­ing of the Chi­nese po­si­tion and ag­gres­sive­ness on the borders with In­dia is dis­cernible. In this con­text, the rapid in­te­gra­tion of Ti­bet with the main­land, and up­grad­ing of strate­gic in­fra­struc­ture in the re­gion are a cause of con­cern.

In China, the cur­rent regime’s sta­bil­ity, fo­cused lead­er­ship, and sus­tained eco­nomic growth and a dou­ble digit growth in their de­fence bud­gets for the past two decades so far gives pos­i­tive in­di­ca­tors for their mil­i­tary mod­erni­sa­tion and leads us to be­lieve that they will achieve what they have set out in their White Pa­per. How­ever, im­pon­der­ables like so­cial and eco­nomic im­bal­ances within China, re­sponses of global pow­ers and play­ers like US, Ja­pan, EU and oth­ers and China’s armed forces abil­ity to ab­sorb state-ofthe-art tech­nol­ogy will dic­tate the level of suc­cess of such mod­erni­sa­tion in fu­ture.

PRC is de­pen­dent on latest ac­qui­si­tions mainly from Rus­sia and Is­rael and these ac­count for ap­prox­i­mately 60 to 70 per cent of mod­ern weaponary as against 30 per cent in­dige­nous pro­duc­tion. In next two decades PRC would like to re­verse this trend. China’s con­tin­ued de­pen­dence on for­eign mil­i­tary tech­nol­ogy does not pro­vide the as­sur­ance that the PLA will be able to threaten the global or even Asia-Pa­cific bal­ance of power in the next two decades or so. How­ever the hard­ware that China is buy­ing, or seek­ing to buy, al­lows us to dis­cern po­ten­tial ca­pa­bil­i­ties that can­not be ig­nored.

While we can de­bate re­gard­ing the ex­tent of China’s mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the fu­ture, In­dia’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties are in­deed at its low­est level cur­rently. In ev­ery ser­vice and in­deed in ev­ery depart­ment/ arm of ev­ery ser­vice there are glar­ing voids. More­over most of the equip­ment held es­pe­cially in the army has seen bet­ter days. Our po­lit­i­cal and bu­reau­cratic lead­er­ship have failed to equip our forces to meet the fu­ture threats and chal­lenges.

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