Military doctrine of the PRC: blind spots of theory and practice

Military doctrine of the PRC: blind spots of theory and practice

Military doctrine is a fundamental element of planning and organizing the defense of any state. Moreover, depending on the national specifics in different countries, military doctrine is presented either by a separate military doctrinal document (for example, Russia or the United States), or by a set of concepts of the country’s political leadership and the views of the most authoritative military experts on defense issues.

CPC Central Committee: we will go our own way

The most striking example of the latter option is Chinese military doctrine.

The military doctrine of the People's Republic of China (PRC) continues to be one of the most discussed topics among domestic and foreign experts in the field of defense and security.

Threats to national security from potential adversaries (the USA, Japan and South Korea) are pushing Chinese leaders to conduct targeted training of the national armed forces (AF) for military conflicts of the future, taking into account the latest trends in armed confrontation.

Considering this, the Chinese experience in ensuring national security may be of interest to domestic military theorists and practitioners, since the Chinese took into account the bitter experience of the United States, as well as the USSR/Russia, and went their own way. The first person to put into practice the new military doctrine of the PRC was the Minister of Defense, Admiral Dong Jun (pictured), who took this post in December 2023.

Despite the long-term interest in the topic of Chinese military doctrine among military professionals, it has not received proper coverage and elaboration over the past five years. Confirmation of the thesis put forward is the lack of publication by domestic open research institutes and “think tanks” of comprehensive studies devoted to the military doctrine of the PRC.

It is almost impossible to find relevant literature on the topic of modernization of the Chinese army on the shelves of bookstores and libraries. The most informative studies were published before 2015 - that is, even before the start of large-scale military reform of the PRC Armed Forces.

About China - not only in English

This state of affairs can be explained by several circumstances.

Firstly, the consequences of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic certainly influenced the development of the so-called “military sinology.” Access to Chinese military scientific literature was temporarily slowed down (in some places stopped). Some experts studying Chinese military life have passed away. Young sinologists were forced to change their field and go away to raise the national economy.

On the other hand, after the start of the Northern Military District, the focus of military-political research was somewhat shifted towards the study of military doctrines of NATO countries. At the same time, the interest of the expert community in organizing defense “with Chinese characteristics” has not gone away: this topic is constantly heard in the media and military scientific literature.

The myth of the “Chinese threat” to the Russian Federation has been replaced by the concept of the triangle “USA – Russia – China”, so many conclusions and forecasts for our country are made based on the results of the US-China confrontation. It is noteworthy that most analysts rely in their assessments and forecasts only on English-language sources (annual Pentagon reports on the military power of the PRC, reports of American think tanks).

In a number of cases, the assessment of the military power of the PRC is made on the basis of speculative publications similar to the above infographics of the English-language publications New Tang Dynasty and South China Morning Post.

About accents and aspects

Among domestic publications that have not received wide publicity, it is worth noting the works of Doctor of Military Sciences D. V. Gordienko, published in 2023–2024. This is the monograph “Military aspects of the implementation of geopolitics of the People's Republic of China” and the textbook “People's Liberation Army of China. Military tools for implementing the geopolitics of the People's Republic of China."

In them, using a wide range of Chinese, English and Russian sources, the directions of the military development of the Celestial Empire are comprehensively studied. Based on long-term experience in a specialized sinological institution (ICSA RAS), the author comes to non-trivial conclusions.

For example, while adhering to defense policy, the Chinese leadership can use military force in accordance with the principle of “active defense” to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state. However, the Chinese, using the concept of “active defense,” are able to interpret any threat to national interests as an attack and justify the use of their military force.

For our part, we note that, despite the declarative reflection in legal acts of the very specific conditions that determine the use of Chinese armed forces, it is not always possible to clearly define the boundaries of the transition to their use. This approach is fully consistent with the pragmatic position of the PRC leadership.

Thus, the Central Committee of the CPC and the military command directly have the opportunity to gain approval from the world community through the development of legal mechanisms in China and retain the ability to use force in a specific situation. Thus, China’s military doctrine is undoubtedly of interest to the expert community, but existing approaches to its study require adjustment.

Against the backdrop of the justified militarization of part of the Russian economy due to the difficulties of carrying out the Northern Military District, there is a need to include a special block of research work in the state assignment.

Primarily dedicated to a comprehensive study of Chinese military doctrine in the interests of predicting the military-political situation. In such conditions, it seems more reasonable to identify and neutralize challenges and threats to Russia’s interests, taking into account the Chinese experience.
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  1. +2
    28 February 2024 05: 45
    Theory is good, practice shows something else. As a rule, the theories of previous wars are broken by the reality of subsequent ones... A non-standard approach, sometimes even contrary to theory, is often the basis of success.
  2. +1
    28 February 2024 05: 50
    It is now clear that we have extremely little knowledge about China. Every new act of this country shatters what sinologists gave us. This country needs to be studied and studied. In China, virtuality turns into reality. All over the world it’s the other way around.
  3. +11
    28 February 2024 06: 24
    Military doctrine of the PRC: blind spots of theory and practice

    Such a promising title, and...
    Where is the article about the military doctrine of the PRC?
    1. +2
      28 February 2024 09: 44
      The military doctrine of the PRC is the same as the philosophical one of “an old monkey sitting on the bank of a river and waiting for the corpses of the enemy to float by.” But with such a doctrine, wars are not won.
      1. 0
        4 March 2024 08: 39
        They never won anything, seriously...
    2. +3
      28 February 2024 15: 37
      Quote: Doccor18

      Such a promising title, and...
      Where is the article about the military doctrine of the PRC?

      It seems that this is not an article, but a request for it - to the reading audience.
      Or a request for a review of the mentioned book by D. V. Gordienko
    3. +1
      3 March 2024 11: 17
      Well, I’m not the only one asking where the promised article went. Thank God, I thought the translator wasn't working laughing
  4. +4
    28 February 2024 07: 07
    Almost impossible to find on the shelves of bookstores and libraries current literature on the topic of modernization of the Chinese army
    Everything related to the PLA is a closed topic even in China, and then what can we say about some bookshelves in stores. In the PRC, unlike other countries, they have not yet forgotten how to keep military and state secrets, which means it is simply impossible to glean information about the real state of affairs in the modernization of the Chinese army from open sources. Only what is allowed to be published in open sources is available. And by the way, they are doing the right thing. But the main provisions of the PRC’s military doctrine are available to the general public.
    1. +2
      28 February 2024 08: 40
      Quote: rotmistr60
      Everything related to the PLA is a closed topic even in China, and then what can we say about some bookshelves in stores.

      The topic is closed, but any doctrine has a basic basis that leaves its traces.
      Who and what is modern Russia for China, if we forget about the events at Damansky? It is known that on the “book shelves in stores” in China there were geographical maps on which part of the territory of Russia was shamelessly designated as Cathay. In Russia there was nothing similar in relation to China.
      Let’s not forget that China has territorial claims to all neighboring countries, and after what seemed like a closed “demarcation” of the topic of territorial claims to Russia, already in 2012 it put forward claims to the “originally Chinese” 17 hectares of our Altai mountainous area.
      It is already a historical fact that during the so-called “demarcation” in 2005, the Russian authorities unilaterally transferred about 340 square kilometers of “disputed territories” to the PRC, which were of strategic importance in the border zone. In addition to this, there was a mutual withdrawal of troops 200 kilometers from the border, where our troops retreated to the north from prepared lines into the undeveloped “tundra”, and the Chinese to the south, with a developed transport infrastructure. In addition, there are underground tunnels to the border through which PLA units can be secretly transported.
      It was noted that Chinese medium-range missiles have been advanced to the Russian border, as if in order to be further away in the event of US aggression.
      Now the United States, the United States, is overseas, and the PLA is unlikely to walk along its bottom, and the US Navy is far superior to the Chinese fleet. Here we can only consider a confrontation near the coast of China, where it can create competition for the American fleet grouping. The stumbling block is Taiwan, if we talk about direct confrontation with the United States.
      Surely, in the Chinese doctrine there is a place not only for the return of Taiwan, but also for other “original Chinese territories.”
      There is no need to see China as an enemy, but we must really be aware of possible threats, and here it is more important that our military doctrine takes into account all the risks and is ready to repel both a preventive strike by the United States, where thousands of cruise missiles will be added to ICBMs and aerial bombs, and kept from the temptations of any other people who wanted to go to the “Kemsk volost”, including from the so far friendly China.
  5. +4
    28 February 2024 07: 23
    Our Russian society is generally characterized by a swing from one extreme to another. From nationalization to privatization, from Down to Long Live. From “everything according to the State Planning Committee” to “the market itself will decide everything”.....
    From all-Union congresses that don’t decide a damn thing to a gang of three dudes who are dividing the country into parts in the night Belovezhskaya forest.....

    It’s the same with military doctrine - there are only “non-standard solutions”. From “Kuzkina’s mother” to “friends Kolya and Bush”, and back...

    For normal people, the Law is the Law, the doctrine is really a doctrine.

    Which may not be brilliant, but it will actually be implemented, which is much better than an absolute “non-standard” mess in thoughts and actions.
  6. +2
    28 February 2024 08: 07
    The military doctrine of the PRC, judging by the article, is a complete blank spot
  7. +2
    28 February 2024 13: 04
    In authoritarian states, the layers of “truth” are like layers of onions or cabbage - it is not at all necessary that the stated doctrine is the “inner layer”. Quite the contrary. In the inner layer, as a rule, there is one principle “+-” - it is called “act according to the situation and be ready to lay all the cards on the table, including a pistol and knives.”
  8. +1
    28 February 2024 18: 17
    Quote: curvimeter
    Theory is good, practice shows something else. As a rule, the theories of previous wars are broken by the reality of subsequent ones... A non-standard approach, sometimes even contrary to theory, is often the basis of success.

    Yes and no.

    If you look at history, the "peaks" of progress are actually events that were not foreseen by prevailing theories and authorities - and ideas that were opposed to those theories and authorities.

    Are "outside the box" approaches generally better because of this?

    No! Few of them succeed. But many hundreds or thousands of unsuccessful “non-standard approaches” are not visible, they are simply forgotten. (Survivor Bias)

    That's why you need a good theory - there's nothing more practical - and people with the balls to debunk it.

    (Read "Black Swan" by Taleb)
  9. 0
    28 February 2024 21: 05

    War is a great matter of the state. One cannot but delve into what constitutes the basis of life and death, the path of existence and death, with all care.
    Therefore, judge the art of war based on five circumstances, determine the balance of forces through calculations in order to understand the situation.

    The five circumstances are as follows:

    Firstly - the Path, secondly - Heaven, thirdly - Earth, fourthly - the Commander, fifthly - the Rules.

    The path is when they achieve a position in which the people completely share the intentions of the ruler and are ready to die with him at the same time and live with him at the same time; when people live without deception.

    The sky is light and darkness, cold and heat; this is the order of time. War is won by whether it is followed or opposed.

    The earth is places high and low, distances far or close, terrain rough or flat, passages wide or narrow, positions fatal or life-saving.

    A commander is wisdom, trust, humanity, courage, rigor.

    The rules are military formation, command and management of resources.


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