Chinese Strategists Consider Weaponizing “Complexity Science”


“The network information system … can be damaged or controlled by destroying key nodes in the network information system, creating a destruction ‘multiplier’ effect of ‘100-1=0.’”


The complexity of warfare increases as new capabilities, such as unmanned aircraft, loitering munitions, cyber warfare, and others, are introduced. As complexity increases, so do the risks, prompting Chinese military thinkers to explore the possibilities of using “complexity science,” the study of complex systems, to their advantage. The first excerpted article, published by the People’s Liberation Army’s official newspaper, PLA Daily, and reposted to the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China’s website, underscores the importance of understanding basic science versus the concept of “complexity science.”  A traditional, cause-and-effect system assumes a linear outcome, which is predictable. However, as the article points out, in a complex system, the topic of study of “complexity science,” one slight change could have a huge impact on the course or outcome of the war.[i]

Complexity science is important in both defensive and offensive operations. For example, offensively, the article explains that destroying a key node of an opponent’s network information system, the glue that holds together the joint operations system, can serve as a force multiplier. In defensive operations, to protect their own systems, PLA commanders need to completely understand the emerging nature of complex war systems so that they can predict or anticipate where the adversary might attempt to degrade their systems. In offensive operations, on the other hand, they should use their insight to shape the war and create winning opportunities for themselves. The article explains that coming up with countermeasures and improving the ability to predict emerging technology can be facilitated through modeling and simulation. It also suggests taking advantage of the unpredictable and “fighting opportunities” in combat “to catch the opponent off guard with thunderous momentum.” The second article, published by China’s top military decision-making command body, the Central Military Commission’s authorized news source, China Military Online, details “complexity” in command-and-control (C2) systems. It explains that complexity science offers a new way to understand, guide, and practice war. It also recommends using complexity, around C2, as a weapon to complicate the opponent’s decision-making capacity, while also facilitating one’s own abilities. The key to accomplishing this is by breaking the traditional decision-making methods and reshaping those of the opponent. Humans, becoming increasingly intertwined with machines in the decision-making process at all levels, will create “unprecedentedly prominent battlefield management issues,” the article argues. As variables become more complex it is easier to reshape the opponent’s decision-making process by limiting the adversary’s intelligence capabilities, impairing their reflexes, creating confusion at the intersection, and pushing the opponent to their breaking point.


Sources:

Liu Haiye et al, “认真研究并加以把握运用,战争复杂系统的涌现性 (Carefully Study and Understand the Emergence of Complex War Systems),” PLA Daily (official news source of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army), 17 November 2023. http://www.mod.gov.cn/gfbw/jmsd/16267413.html.

Informatization and intelligentization in the network information system is the “glue” and “catalyst” of the joint operations system. However, it does not always guarantee the network’s effectiveness in driving the entire joint combat system. The network information system not only can serve as a “multiplier” of “1+1>2”in aggregating combat forces that are widely distributed and have heterogeneous functional role, it can be damaged or controlled by destroying key nodes in the network information system, creating a destruction “multiplier” effect of “100-1=0”.

Make good use of the emergent nature of complex war systems: …In recent years, the continued advances in modeling and simulation, artificial intelligence, big data and other technologies, has provided new support for commanders to grasp the emergent nature of complex war systems. If commanders can fully grasp the emergent nature of complex war systems, they might be able to perceive, foresee, utilize or even create “points” where war emerges before their opponents do, thereby becoming more proactive in shaping the war situation and creating winning opportunities.

Gain insights in advance and implement changes before the enemy. Once the emergence of complex war systems occurs, it could cause major global or local changes in the entire battlefield. “Forewarned is forearmed, without prejudging the waste”. Only by sensing and anticipating the possible emergence of key nodes in the war system and key turning points in the combat process before the opponent does, can we implement changes before the enemy and disrupt their operations…(we should) implement various countermeasures for war preparations, and improve the pertinence and predictability of military training and preparations…Methods such as modeling and simulation, which can provide insights into the emergence of complex war systems, should be actively applied to build, restore, and simulate real combat environments and operations in virtual war spaces.


Hu Xiaofeng, “从复杂性科学看指挥控制领域变革趋势 (A Look at Changing Trends in Command and Control From the Perspective of Complexity Science),” China Military Online (news source authorized by the Central Military Commission and sponsored by the People’s Liberation Army), 2 January 2024. http://www.81.cn/ll_208543/16277640.html

Complexity science has provided new possibilities for understanding war and guiding war practice. In the field of command and control, complexity can be used as a weapon to make the opponent’s decision-making more complicated, while oneself can easily deal with it. The key to achieving this effect is to break the original traditional decision-making method and reshape the opponent’s decision-making process.

How to create complexity

In future wars, as the combat system becomes larger and larger, humans and machines become more intertwined in decision-making at all levels, especially the widespread use of intelligent combat platforms, resulting in unprecedentedly prominent battlefield management issues.

Traditional decision-making only changes the decision-making parameters, not the decision-making process, so the decision-making complexity is constant… If complexity methods are introduced, the opponent’s decision-making process can be reshaped, forcing the opponent to introduce new parameters, leading to an increase in decision-making complexity. For example, if one’s own camouflage effect exceeds the opponent’s existing reconnaissance capabilities, it forces it to find new reconnaissance and positioning methods, thereby prompting it to change its decision-making process and make decision-making more complex. So, how to create complexity? It is generally believed that there are mainly the following four methods.

Limit intelligence capabilities. By creating uncertainty to enhance complexity and reduce the adversary’s situational awareness, the adversary can only act with the support of limited information…

Impaired reflexes. Create complexity by leveraging adaptive characteristics to weaken adversaries’ operational responsiveness…

Create confusion at the intersection. Creating chaos and complexity by crossing boundaries to create new emergent effects… Facilitate tipping point transitions. Push your opponent to the breaking point and create complexity, resulting in non-linear transitions…


Notes:

[i] The first article uses an old the British proverb as an example. “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost. For want of a horse, the rider was lost. For want of a rider, the battle was lost. For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.” This analogy underscores the importance of each node, down to the most basic one (the nail). For more on this proverb, see “A Little Neglect May Breed Great Mischief,” Citadel website, accessed 20 January 2024. https://web.citadel.edu/root/images/commandant/assistant-commandant-leadership/for-the-want-of-a-nail.pdf


China Celebrates New Turbofan Engine Design as Giving It a Strategic Advantage

China’s WZ-7 (“Soaring Dragon”) is a high-altitude, long-endurance drone, shown here
on display during the 2022 Zhuhai Airshow.


“With its inherent advantages of having a world-leading industrial system and strong production capacity, China already has an absolute advantage in the Sino-US arms race around UAVs, loitering munitions, and cruise missiles.”


China claims its new turbofan could give it an edge during a high-intensity war. According to the first article posted on the publicly owned Chinese Internet platform Tencent, the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has developed a new-generation, low-cost, easy-to-manufacture turbofan engine, which can be used in high-speed, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and missiles. A turbofan engine, first conceptualized in the 1930s is also known as a fanjet, is a modern variant of the gas turbine engine.

What makes the recent Chinese version unique is that it has a significantly reduced number of parts. According to the second article, published by leading Chinese Internet and gaming provider NetEase, there are only two stages, a fan stage and a high-pressure compressor stage. In contrast, according to the article, the U.S. Global Hawk’s turbofan engine has 13 additional stages. This less complex structure makes it 20 to 30 percent lighter and less expensive to manufacture than other turbofans. The first article argues that these simpler turbofan engines will allow China to produce them faster and increase “the operational efficiency of frontline combat forces.” For example, the People’s Liberation Army will be able to turn to private enterprise with lower technical capabilities than specialized military industrial complex to manufacture the new variant. Noting lessons learned from the Ukraine conflict, the article argues that “the side able to dominate the battlefield is often not the Ukrainian military with its advanced NATO equipment, but the Russian military, which can steadily supply less advanced equipment to the frontlines.” The article also notes that by leveraging its cost and production capacity to provide a continuous supply of units to power its weapons, China can ensure that “when a conflict does break out between [it] and the United States,” the U.S. military will not be able to “engage in a high-intensity war of attrition.”


Sources:

Jiang Fuwei, “中美无人机军备竞赛,中国抢先立于不败之地,可以让美军更清醒 (In Sino-U.S. UAV Arms Race, China’s Advanced, Invincible Position Can Make the U.S. Military Sober Up),” Tencent (a major Chinese platform company that connects users, businesses, and industries with technology and innovation, 1 November 2023. https://new.qq.com/rain/a/20231101A03WF100

“Zhu Junqiang, director of the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that they have developed a new-generation low-cost turbofan engine, and this new engine has been used in a certain type of high-speed, long-endurance UAV.

This type of turbofan engine reportedly adopts a very unusual single-shaft high-pressure direct-drive configuration, which integrates the compressor and fan that must be arranged separately in conventional twin-shaft engines, reducing the number of engine parts by more than 60 percent. This reduces the overall weight and size of this type of engine by 20 to 30 percent compared to conventional twin-shaft configuration engines with the same thrust, and it also reduces fuel consumption by 10 percent.

In other words, the emergence of this type of engine not only signifies that the performance of domestic UAVs, loitering munitions, and even cruise missiles using turbofan engines will be significantly improved, but also that the manufacturing costs of these types of equipment will be further reduced to what can be called a “formidable” level. With its inherent advantages of having a world-leading industrial system and strong production capacity, China already has an absolute advantage in the Sino-US arms race around UAVs, loitering munitions, and cruise missiles…

Once China can produce a new turbofan engine, which costs only 20 percent of that of the existing turbofan engine, even if [the engine] currently can only be used in weapons such as UAVs and cruise missiles, significantly reducing the overall cost can increase the output and equipment quantity of these weapons systems, thereby increasing the operational efficiency of frontline combat forces…

Due to the significant reduction in the number of parts, the degree of difficulty in producing this type of engine is greatly reduced…

Looking at the experience of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the side able to dominate the battlefield is often not the Ukrainian military with its advanced NATO equipment, but the Russian military, which can steadily supply less advanced equipment to the frontlines.

At this point, once the PLA can leverage these advantages in cost and production capacity, it can establish strong anti-loss capabilities and continuous supply capabilities for weapons such as UAVs and cruise missiles.

So, when a conflict does break out between China and the United States, the US military in the Western Pacific will not have the ability to engage in a high-intensity war of attrition with the PLA….


Jianduan Fangu, “我国研制成功高空低油耗涡扇发动机,战略无人机将傲视全球 (My Country Has Developed a Successful High-Altitude, Low-Fuel-Consumption Turbofan Engine and Will Dominate the World of Strategic Drones),” NetEase, (A leading Chinese Internet and gaming provider centered around premium content.), 26 October 2023. https://www.163.com/dy/article/IHVD86H205565PRU.html

The Institute of Engineering Thermophysics of the Chinese Academy of Science developed a high-performance, high-altitude, low-fuel-consumption turbofan engine, with greatly improved technology… First, the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics’ high-altitude, low-fuel-consumption turbofan engine has greatly simplified the engine structure. There is only one stage for the fan and one stage for the high-pressure compressor. The first stage uses a diagonal flow compressor, and the second stage uses a centrifugal compressor. The pressure ratio of each stage is very high, which significantly reduces the number of compressor stages. Comparing it to the Global Hawk’s engine, there are 13 fewer stages, which greatly reduces the number of parts. This reduces the complexity of the engine, which reduces fuel consumption and makes it cheaper.


Image Information:

Image: China’s WZ-7 [R1] (“Soaring Dragon”) is a high-altitude, long-endurance drone, shown here on display during the 2022 Zhuhai Airshow.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WZ-7_at_Airshow_China_Zhuhai_2022.jpg
Attribution: CCA-Share Alike 4.0 Int


China Vaunts Its Fifth Generation Stealth Fighter

Chengdu J-20 fighter displaying its weapon bays, missiles, and avionics during the 2018 Zhuhai Airshow.


“The J-20 can not only launch missiles under optimal conditions but also under emergency and extreme conditions, which can bring important tactical advantages.”


China’s J-20 fifth-generation stealth fighter has undergone many changes since its maiden flight in January 2011, and is now reported to be deployed to all five Chinese Theater Commands.[i] China is now applauding these accomplishments.

According to the excerpted article from the Chinese Communist Party newspaper Global Times, the J-20 [RG1] stealth fighter can “launch missiles under extreme battlefield environments,” providing tactical advantages in combat. In testing the J-20’s capabilities, chief test pilot Li Gang was able to open the bay hatch and launch a missile while performing high-G rolling maneuvers simulating the evasion of an enemy missile attack. The test proved the J-20 could successfully conduct both attack and evasion operations simultaneously.

Over the past decade, the aircraft has evolved becoming more streamlined, decreasing the shock wave angle and wave resistance at transonic speeds, and improving flight maneuverability.[ii] The sensor suite is being upgraded with a new gallium nitride radar, which has a larger bandwidth, stronger detection capability for small targets, and better anti-electronic interference capability.[iii] The fighter is now equipped with domestic WS-15 turbofan engines. The WS-15, as compared to the previous Russian A1-31 and domestic WS-10C engines, marks a significant milestone providing higher thrust and more dynamic performance envelope originally meant for the J-20.[iv] It is unknown how many J-20s are currently deployed. Various sources put the number between 150 and 200. The general consensus is the number of J-20s exceeds (or will soon exceed) the number of F-22 [RG2] As, the most capable U.S. fifth-generation fighter.[v] The second excerpted article from the Global Times reported that the J-20 has been operational in the South China Sea, East China Sea, and Taiwan Strait, where it is used to “safeguard China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and development interests.” As the J-20 extends out over disputed territorial waters, it improves China’s ability to respond to emergencies and could alter the strategic landscape of the region. The J-20 could also intensify tensions and raises the question about what the United States’ strategic response should be.


Sources:

Liu Xuanzun, “China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter Can Launch Missiles Under Extreme Conditions: Test Pilot,” Global Times (Chinese Communist Party’s English language newspaper), 6 October 2023. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202310/1299318.shtml

Despite having to hide its munitions in an internal weapons bay to achieve a high level of stealth, China’s J-20 stealth fighter jet can still launch missiles under extreme battlefield environments, bringing tactical advantages in combat, [Li Gang] the chief test pilot of the aircraft revealed recently.

It took nearly seven years for the J-20 to be commissioned into the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force since its maiden flight in 2011, and during this period, the aircraft underwent a series of combat-oriented test flights that challenged its limits and validated the warplane’s safety under all kinds of extreme conditions, Li Gang, the chief test pilot of the J-20, said in an interview with China Central Television (CCTV) that was aired during the National Day holidays this week.

“It takes some time for the missile to launch after I press the launch button. If an enemy missile were to come for me during this period, I would have to make emergency maneuvers at high speed and high G forces. In this scenario, my missile needs to be ejected from the weapons bay without hitting my own aircraft and without leading to any danger,” Li said.

The test flight confirmed that the J-20 can not only launch missiles under optimal conditions, but also under emergency and extreme conditions, which can bring important tactical advantages, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Friday.


Wei Qi and Fan Wei, “八一飞行表演队换装歼-10C,专家:体现中国空军装备更新加速度更快 (Ba Yi Aerobatics Team Refitted with J-10Cs, Experts: This Reflects Acceleration of Upgrades to Chinese air Force’s Equipment),” HUANQIU SHIBAO (Chinese language version of Global Times—Chinese Communist Party newspaper), 17 May 2023. https://3w.huanqiu.com/a/de583b/4CvJjfBS6E1?p=2&agt=61

[According to military expert] Zhang Xuefeng, “…In the past, when we just had third-generation aircraft, only elite troops could equip the advanced fighters. Now, the J-20 has been deployed in all military theaters…”

Notes:

[i] Wang Yanan, “歼20首次布署就在西部战区,卫星看清后,印度收到一好一坏两消息 ( J-20 Deployed for First Time Western Theater Command; After Being Clearly Seen by Satellite, India Received Two Pieces of News, One Good and One Bad),” Tencent, 26 September 2023. https://new.qq.com/rain/a/20230926A093WB00

[ii] Ma Haoliang, “歼20B新战甲超音速新境界 (J-20B’s New Armor Brings a New Level of Supersonic Speed),” Ta Kung Pao, 30 January 2023. http://www.takungpao.com/news/232108/2023/0130/812950.html

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Rick Joe, “China’s J-20 Gets Another Upgrade,” Diplomat, 1 August 2023. https://thediplomat.com/2023/08/chinas-j-20-gets-another-upgrade/

[v] Richard Fisher, e-mail message to author, 19 October 2023.


Image Information:

Image: Chengdu J-20 fighter displaying its weapon bays, missiles, and avionics during the 2018 Zhuhai Airshow.
Source: emperornie, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:J-20_fighter_(44040541250)_(cropped).jpg
Attribution: CC By-SA 2.0


China’s Attempt To Increase Regional Influence

First and Second Island Chains


“China is attempting to erode the United States’ status as the world’s leading military power and largest economy by pushing “militarily-motivated” regional economic cooperation around the world”


Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) wrote in a recent report that China is trying to erode U.S. military dominance and economic power through a “covert military agenda,” according to Taiwan state-run press agency Focus Taiwan. The MND bases its conclusion on several phenomena, including China’s expanding influence beyond the Second Island Chain,[i] which sees Beijing courting military allies through economic inducements. According to the article, China has pushed to establish a military base in the Solomon Islands, with which it plans to form a strategic partnership, particularly based on economics. China established official diplomatic relations with Solomon Islands in 2019, following the Solomon Islands’ cutting of ties with Taiwan. In celebrating the shift, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated the new ties with China will bring the Solomon Islands “unprecedented development opportunities.”[ii] The article expresses concern that establishing a military base in the Solomon Islands will help China to better project power past the Second Island Chain. China is also using cognitive warfare, gray zone tactics and intimidation, to gain the upper hand over the United States. This includes deploying naval forces and maritime police and militia to interfere with freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Recent reports, such as the second article excerpt, published in the independent Philippine Daily Tribune, underscore this reality. The article argues that China is combining lawfare[iii] and gray zone tactics to wear down its neighbors in the South China Sea and is waiting for “a suitable administration in the United States, which would give less importance to America’s stabilizing role in the Asia-Pacific region.”


Sources:

Matt Yu and Sean Lin, “China Pushing Military Agenda Behind Economic Exchanges: Defense Ministry,” Focus Taiwan (Taiwan state-run press agency), 11 October 2023. https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202310110023

China is attempting to erode the United States’ status as the world’s leading military power and largest economy by pushing “militarily-motivated” regional economic cooperation around the world, as evidenced by its plan to set up a military base in the Solomon Islands, which seeks to expand its power projection past the Second Island Chain, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND).

In a report delivered to the legislature on Wednesday, the MND pointed out that China has a “covert military agenda” aimed at diminishing U.S. military dominance and economic power under its Belt and Road Initiative.

For instance, China has in recent years attempted to establish a military base in the Solomon Islands to consolidate the two countries’ strategic partnership, which is a move aimed at expanding Chinese power projection past the Second Island Chain, according to the report.

In addition, China has adopted aggressive maneuvers in an attempt to establish control over issues relating to the South China Sea, including engaging in “gray zone” activities by deploying its naval forces and maritime police and militia to interfere with other countries’ freedom of navigation in the region, the report said.


“Long-Game Scenario,” Daily Tribune (an independent Philippine daily newspaper), 17 October 2023, https://tribune.net.ph/2023/09/21/long-game-scenario/

The tactic (lawfare and grey zone) involves wearing down its opponents in the South China Sea conflict while waiting for a suitable administration in the United States, which would again give less importance to America’s stabilizing role in the Asia-Pacific region.

China’s preparations for a protracted conflict are evident in its latest moves, from making public the 10-dash line claim, the absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Jakarta, and the water spraying by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel of a Philippine Navy boat on a mission to resupply the grounded Sierra Madre.

Regional analysts said China is employing a combination of lawfare, which is the use of legal systems and institutions to undermine an opponent, and gray zone tactics, which are maneuvers short of war that point to a conflict for the long haul.China’s drafting of a new map was timed to reassert its territorial claims and flex its muscles ahead of the ASEAN and G20 Summits.


Notes:

[i] China’s Island Chain strategy is a maritime strategic concept that the country adopted in the 1980s. For most of its history, China focused on its internal and continental security issues. Then, as China began to open to the rest of the world, it recognized that to be a viable power, it would have to extend out into the maritime domain. The First Island Chain, which consists of the Kuril Islands, the Japanese archipelago, the Ryuku Islands, Taiwan, northern Philippines, and Borneo is the line of defense to which China would project power to protect, deny, and contest other strategic powers. The Second Island Chain reaches out to the Japan Bonin Islands, the Marianas, the western Caroline Islands, and Western New Guinea. The Third Island Chain is the Aleutian Islands, the center of the Pacific Ocean through Oceania, the Hawaiian Islands, American Samoa, New Zealand, and Australia. See Beatrice Heuser and Paul O’Neill, “Episode 5: Admiral Liu Huaqing and China’s Island Chain Strategy,” RUSI, 9 August 2022. https://rusi.org/podcasts/talking-strategy/episode-5-admiral-liu-huaqing-and-chinas-island-chain-strategy

[ii] “2019年9月17日外交部发言人华春莹主持例行记者会  (On September 19, 2019, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying Hosted a Regular Press Conference),” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, 17 September 2019. https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/fyrbt_673021/jzhsl_673025/201909/t20190917_5418035.shtml

[iii] Lawfare, or legal warfare, is the use of legal systems to damage or delegitimize an opponent. China is said to have the most advanced lawfare strategy, which it incorporated as a major military strategy as early as 1999. An example of China’s use of lawfare is when it drafted a new map to reassert its territorial claims and flex its muscles prior to the ASEAN and G20 Summits. Lawfare is one of China’s “Three Warfares” strategy, used to drive the country’s military influence operations. (The other two “warfares” are public opinion warfare and psychological warfare). States. See: Jill Goldenziel, “Law as a Battlefield: The U.S., China, And the Global Escalation of Lawfare,” Cornell Law Review, Vol. 106, 23 September 2021. https://www.cornelllawreview.org/2021/09/23/law-as-a-battlefield-the-u-s-china-and-the-global-escalation-of-lawfare/


Image Information:

Image: First and Second Island Chains
Source: Public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Geographic_Boundaries_of_the_First_and_Second_Island_Chains.png
Attribution: DoD


China Setting the Stage for Reunification

Map showing the proximity between China and Taiwan


“The CCP wrote the “one country, two systems” formula into its party constitution, which sets more definitive guidance on the party’s Taiwan policy.”


Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) is predicting that unification with Taiwan is even higher on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s agenda now that he is in his third five-year term as president. According to Taiwan’s state-run national news agency Zhongyang Tongxunshe (Central News Agency), the MND bases its conclusion on plans and events over the past year. First,  during the 20th National Congress in October 2022, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) adopted the “one country, two systems” formula into its party constitution. The MND views this as providing definitive guidance on the CCP’s Taiwan policy. Second, during the 14th National People’s Congress in March 2023, Xi vowed to lead the CCP to “solidly” promote “the great cause of national reunification.”[i]

Finally, the generals appointed as members of the Central Military Commission, the military’s leading authority, have been those with experience in combat, military technology, and handling Taiwan-related matters.[ii] This was evident in the selection of the two vice chairmen, directly subordinate to Xi. First, Zhang Youxia was selected to serve another term as Vice Chairman. Particularly noteworthy is that Zhang’s selection went against China’s retirement norms: while the retirement age for the PLA is 68, Zhang was 72 when selected for this term. The flouting of these conventions is likely because Zhang has combat experience, although dated, from the 1979 Sino-Vietnam War. The second Vice Chairman, He Weidong, recently led the Eastern Theater Command, which is responsible for PLA operations in the East China Sea and Taiwan. These selections underscore Xi’s strategic thinking. Based on the article, it is important to note the MND is not predicting China will use force to unify with Taiwan by 2027. Rather, it assesses that China is ramping up efforts to promote reunification and build its military capability in the event force is used. As the MND points out, the PLA’s Rocket Force plans to establish precision strike capabilities by 2027 in the “first island chain” consisting of Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines. However, the PLA also plans to establish a “comprehensive and versatile ground force” and push its naval and air force capabilities by 2035 to the “second island chain” consisting of Japan, Guam, and Micronesia. This will give China more capability to counter a potential offensive in support of Taiwan.


Sources:

Matt Yu and Shih Hsiu-chuan,“Pursuing Taiwan Unification High on Xi’s Third Term Agenda: MND,” Focus Taiwan: CNA English News (the national news agency of the Republic of China), 31 August 2023. https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202308310023

Pursuing unification with Taiwan is likely to be high on the agenda during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) third five-year term that began earlier this year, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said in a new report.

…At the congress, the CCP wrote the “one country, two systems” formula into its party constitution, which sets more definitive guidance on the party’s Taiwan policy, the MND said.

Another indication was the first speech given by Xi at the 14th National People’s Congress, after he was elected for an unprecedented third term as president, in which he vowed to lead the CCP to “solidly” promote the “great cause of national reunification,” it added.

Xi has prioritized those with expertise in military technology, combat experience and experience handling matters related to Taiwan in the appointing of CMC generals, the MND said.

The MND added that He Weidong (何衛東) was appointed to hold one of the two CMC vice chairmanships because he was well versed with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military readiness, which would be an asset in the event of a cross-Taiwan Strait conflict.

The MND said the PLA’s Rocket Force aims to establish precise strike capabilities against adversaries in the first island chain by 2027, referring to the chain of islands that make up Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines.It added that the PLA also aims to construct a comprehensive and versatile ground force, to modernize its navy so it is able to counter adversaries spanning from the first island chain to the second island chain by 2035, and to extend the attacking range of the air force to the second island chain by 2035.


Notes:

[i] For recent statements from the current Chinese leadership regarding the importance of Taiwan, see: Dodge Billingsley, “Chinese Officials Justify Reaction To Western Presence In Taiwan Strait,” OE Watch, 07-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/chinese-officials-justify-reaction-to-western-presence-in-taiwan-strait-2/

[ii] For more information on the CMC’s current leadership, see: Brian Waidelich, “China’s New Military Leadership: Possible Strengths and Weaknesses,” Center for Naval Analyses, 11 November 2022. https://www.cna.org/our-media/indepth/2022/11/chinas-new-miliatry-leadership-possible-strengths-and-weaknesses


Image Information:

Image: Map showing the proximity between China and Taiwan
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1995 – /media/File:Taiwan_Strait.png
Attribution: Public Domain


Chinese Cognitive Operations Might Impact Taiwan’s Will To Resist

President of TAIWAN Tsai Ing-wen reviews a Marine Corps battalion in Kaohsiung in July 2020


[The will to fight] depends on our (Taiwan’s) internal conditions. There are differences just on whether to resist China.”


Taiwan might not be prepared to resist a Chinese invasion, according to Shen Po-yang, an associate professor at the Institute of Criminology at Taipei University. The following article excerpt from Taiwan cable TV network Sanlih E-Television News highlights some of Shen’s remarks, which he gave during a meeting held by the World Taiwanese Association and the European Taiwan Association in Vilnius, Lithuania. Shen, who researches Chinese cognitive operations against Taiwan, attributes his conclusion to China’s growing technological capability in disinformation operations and Taiwan’s internal division. He explains that Chinese information operations against Taiwan primarily targets the 20 percent who consider themselves neutral, including those who are undecided on whether Taiwan should commit to war or surrender should the mainland invade. According to the article, a survey of Taiwan’s vulnerability to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) cognitive warfare shows how divided the country is in its beliefs. For example, according to the survey, less than 20 percent of people in Taiwan believe the disinformation comes from external forces; 30 percent believe it comes from China; 20 percent believe it comes from the United States; and 20 percent believe it comes from Japan. According to Shen, “The reality is very far away (from what people believe).” Complementing the technical aspects of Chinese cognitive operations, Shen sees Xi Jinping’s continued emphasis on the “China Dream” as an ideology to win over the people when the economy is bad and he concludes that Taiwan’s will to resist will depend on their internal conditions. A study in the Oxford Journal of Global Security Studies,[i] explains that China’s vast cognitive operations against Taiwan are conducted through various governmental departments and party agencies that deal with Taiwan affairs including the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, the United Front Work Department, the PLA, and Propaganda Department. The CCP’s primary goal is to promote unification and to increase Taiwan’s internal conflict and anti-independence views. The study describes four ways in which China conducts cognitive operations. First, China uses military intimidation as a kind of psychological manipulation to prevent Taiwan from seeking independence. Second, China uses economic and sociocultural factors to increase its influence by promoting bilateral exchange across the Taiwan Strait. Third, China uses Mazuism, a popular folk religion that originated in China but is practiced by 70 percent of Taiwan’s population, to strengthen its connection with Taiwan culturally. Finally, China uses disinformation and content farms on the internet to sway public opinion.[ii]


Sources:

“「台灣抵抗意志不如烏克蘭」學者:恐不及因應資訊戰 (Taiwan’s Will to Resist is Not as Good as Ukraine’s’; Scholar: It May Not Be Able to Cope With Information Warfare),” Sanlih E-Television News (Taiwan cable TV network), 11 September 2023. https://www.setn.com/News.aspx?NewsID=1351592&utm_campaign=viewallnews

Shen Boyang, a scholar who specializes in the CCP’s cognitive operations against Taiwan, said that he is worried that Taiwan does not have enough time to prepare for information warfare, because China’s technology is becoming more and more sophisticated, and Taiwan’s internal divisions have made The lack of will to resist China is different from the situation faced by countries such as Lithuania and Ukraine when facing Russia.

Shen Boyang pointed out at the forum that the main targets of China’s information manipulation on Taiwan are those who consider themselves neutral, neither blue nor green, including those who have not yet made up their minds on whether to commit war or surrender when facing the CCP’s invasion of Taiwan. This group of about 20% of Taiwanese people are gradually being China controls and locks in through cross-strait exchanges or the collection of personal information on the Internet.

His survey showed Taiwan’s vulnerability to the Chinese Communist Party’s cognitive warfare. For example, less than 20% of Taiwanese believe that fake news mainly comes from external forces, of which more than 30% point to China, but 20% each point to the United States or Japan. “With The reality is very far away.”

… there is the emotional aspect. After Xi Jinping came to power, he has continuously emphasized the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” internally, which may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because in the past, the CCP could rely on the economy to stabilize its internal affairs. “When the economy is good, there is no need to talk about great rejuvenation, but when the economy is bad, it must use ideology.”What worries him most is the will of the Taiwanese people to resist. “This depends on our internal conditions. There are differences just on whether to resist China.” …


Notes:

[i] Tzu-Chieh Hung and Tzu-Wei Hung, “How China’s Cognitive Warfare Works: A Frontline Perspective of Taiwan’s Anti-Disinformation Wars,” Journal of Global Security studies, Volume 7, Issue 4, December 2022 https://academic.oup.com/jogss/article/7/4/ogac016/6647447

[ii] Social media has an important role in China’s cognitive warfare tactics. Social media can be used to spread “deepfakes” and “accelerationism” to deliberately manipulate emotions and collective consciousness to sway public opinion and exacerbate polarization. For more information, see Cindy Hurst, “Chinese Observations on the Role and Impact of Social Media in Cognitive Warfare,” OE Watch, 05-2022 https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2022/chinese-observations-on-the-role-and-impact-of-social-media-in-cognitive-warfare/; and Cindy Hurst, “China Wages Cognitive Warfare To Shape Taiwanese Public Opinion,” OE Watch, 02-2022. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2022/china-wages-cognitive-warfare-to-shape-taiwanese-public-opinion/


Image Information:

Image: President of TAIWAN Tsai Ing-wen reviews a Marine Corps battalion in Kaohsiung in July 2020
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_China_Marine_Corps – /media/File:President_of_TAIWAN_Tsai_Ing-wen_reviews_a_Marine_Corps_battalion_in_Kaohsiung_in_July_2020_臺灣總統蔡英文校閱海軍陸戰隊九九旅步二營.jpg
Attribution: CC By 2.0


China Now Claims To Have World’s Top Destroyer Force

The Nanchang, China’s first launched Type 055 destroyer.

The Nanchang, China’s first launched Type 055 destroyer.


“Now, as the four Type 055 destroyers of the first Destroyer Detachment of the PLA Navy are fully operational, they will provide more solid support for the Chinese Navy to penetrate the island chains and cruise the ocean.”


According to the Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing news source Ta Kung Pao, the Chinese Navy recently saw its sixth Type 055[GRLCUT(1]  stealth-guided missile destroyer, “Wuxi,” achieve “total combat capability.” The article also claims that by having the Type 055 stealth guided-missile destroyers now fully combat ready, “the detachment has become the world’s top destroyer force.” The second article excerpt, published in the Chinese state-run Global Times, explains that the Wuxi recently participated in a rigorous three-day trial in the Yellow Sea, where it conducted comprehensive air defense, missile defense, sea attack, and anti-submarine operations in a complex electromagnetic environment. The tests, focusing on “future missions, environments, and opponents,” incorporated surface ships, submarines, fighters, and other forces to produce multiple air, underwater, and surface threats that put to test the Wuxi’s integrated combat capability.

According to Ta Kung Pao, Type 055 destroyers are equipped with China’s most advanced air defense, anti-missile, anti-ship, and anti-submarine weapons. They have “strong information perception, command and coordination, air defense and anti-missile, sea-to-sea and sea-to-land strike capabilities” and possess strong anti-ship capabilities that can “crush any opponent.” Previous reporting claimed that a dual-band radar system gives the Type 055 anti-stealth and anti-satellite capabilities in low-Earth orbit providing “Chinese forces a key edge over their opponents in modern warfare.”[i]

The Type 055 destroyer’s primary mission is expected to be as an aircraft carrier escort: to provide a wider detection range and early warning capability, stronger firepower, and overall increased protection for the aircraft carrier. The Type 055 also has the capacity to serve as a command ship and is expected to help the Chinese navy break through the island chains[ii] and ultimately achieve a blue-water capability. There are currently eight operational Type 055 destroyers. The first four have been assigned to the First Destroyer Detachment in the North Sea Fleet, while the next four have been assigned to the Ninth Destroyer Detachment in the South China Fleet. The North Sea Fleet safeguards the country’s northern maritime borders from the Bohai and Yellow Seas. According to Ta Kung Pao, China is currently constructing its ninth Type 055 destroyer, which is expected to be assigned to the East Sea Fleet.


Sources:

“055型四剑合璧 护航母破岛链 (Four Type 055 Destroyers Escort the Aircraft Carrier Liaoning to Break Through the Island Chains), Ta Kung Pao (Hong Kong-based, pro-Beijing news source), 3 April 2023, http://www.takungpao.com/news/232108/2023/0403/835819.html

Wuxi, the Chinese Navy’s sixth Type 055 stealth guided-missile destroyer, has recently passed a full-course test, officially achieving total combat capability. So far, all four 10,000 ton-class destroyers of the first destroyer detachment under the North Sea Fleet (NSF) have achieved full combat capability, and the detachment has become the world’s top destroyer force.

The 13,000-ton Type 055 guided missile destroyer has been praised by U.S. media as the world’s second most powerful guided missile destroyer after the U.S. Zumwalt-class. From January 2020, when Nanchang, the first Type 055 destroyer, came into service, to February 2023, when Xianyang joined the navy, eight 10,000 ton-class destroyers of this type have sailed across our country’s vast seas in a short period of three years. …As a result, the Type 055 destroyers have more robust comprehensive capabilities.

Destroyers are the indispensable main ships in the surface combat system. The Type 055 10,000-ton large destroyers are equipped with the Chinese Navy’s most advanced air defense, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons, with strong information perception, command and coordination, air defense and anti-missile, sea-to-sea and sea-to-land strike capabilities. In particular, equipped with the hypersonic anti-ship YJ-21 missile, the 055 large destroyers has the anti-ship ability to crush any opponent. The formation of several large destroyers of this type also enables the PLA Navy to adopt more flexible and diversified methods of warfare.

Now, as the four Type 055 destroyers of the first Destroyer Detachment of the PLA Navy are fully operational, they will provide more solid support for the Chinese Navy to penetrate the island chains and cruise the ocean.”


Liu Xuanzun, “PLA Navy’s Type 055 large destroyer Wuxi achieves operational capability, ‘boosting North Sea Fleet’s far sea capabilities’,” Global Times (Chinese state-run news outlet), 26 March 2023. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202303/1287983.shtml

Organized by a vessel training center affiliated with the PLA Northern Theater Command Navy, the Type 055 large destroyer Wuxi recently went through a three-day full-course acceptance test in the Yellow Sea over training subjects including comprehensive air defense, missile defense, sea attack and anti-submarine actions in a complex electromagnetic environment, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Saturday.The vessel training center dispatched other forces including surface vessels, submarines and fighter jets to confront or support the Wuxi during the test, so the Wuxi could display its capabilities in dealing with all kinds of emergencies under multiple surface, underwater and air threats, CCTV reported.


Notes:

[i] For more information see: Liu Xuanzun, “China’s Type 055 Destroyer has Anti-Stealth, Anti-Satellite Capabilities: Report,” Global Times, 11 October 2020. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202010/1203103.shtml

[ii] The island chain strategy was originally conceptualized in 1951 by the West to contain the Soviet Union and China by surrounding them with naval bases in the West Pacific to project power and restrict access. There are currently three island chains in the Pacific Ocean. The First Island Chain begins at the Kuril Islands and runs through the Japanese Archipelago, Ryuku Islands, Taiwan, northwest Philippines, and ends around Borneo. The Second Island Chain consists of the Bonin Islands, Volcano Islands, Mariana Islands, western Caroline Islands, and Western New Guinea. The Third Island Chain begins at the Aleutian Islands and runs through the center of the Pacific Ocean through the Hawaiian Islands, American Samoa, Fiji, and New Zealand. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Island Chains became an area of focus in and around China. To break out of the island chains, among other things, China must have a “blue water” capable navy that can control the seas at wide ranges. See Andrew S. Erickson and Joel Wuthnow, “Why Islands Still Matter in Asia: The Enduring Significance of the Pacific ‘Island Chains,” The National Interest, 5 February 2016, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/why-islands-still-matter-asia-15121; and Joe Fallon, “Breaking the Island Chains,”Defence Viewpoints from the UK Defence Forum, 10 February 2020, https://www.defenceviewpoints.co.uk/articles-and-analysis/breaking-the-island-chains


Images and Charts:

Chinese Type 055 Destroyers


Image Information:

Image: The Nanchang, China’s first launched Type 055 destroyer.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_055_destroyer#/media/File:PLANS_Nanchang_(DDG-101)_20210427.jpg
Attribution: Japan Ministry of Defense, Joint Staff Office; CC-BY 4.0

Taiwan Considers “Porcupine Strategy” Against Chinese Invasion


“Taiwan’s asymmetrical warfare strategy is commonly referred to as the ‘the porcupine strategy.’ A porcupine braces itself by hardening its many quills when faced with a huge predator.”


In recent years, Taiwan has felt an increasing sense of urgency to develop a strong system of defense because mounting cross-Strait tensions, China’s growing military might, and gray-zone activities that are one step short of the use of force. Since 2017, some Taiwanese commentators have advocated for the development of a “porcupine strategy” to ward off a potential Chinese invasion.[i] A porcupine strategy, viewed as asymmetric warfare, is used by a weaker opponent to counter an attack from a more powerful one. In Taiwan’s case, this would mean hardening its defenses and inflicting many small, but significant and early, losses for China using many weapons spread throughout the island. As described in the first excerpt, published in Taiwan’s English-language publication Taipei Times, “the pain of stepping on (a porcupine’s) quills become the main deterrent to crushing it.” The second excerpted article, published by the newly established English-language news and opinion site, Japan Forward, also discusses the porcupine strategy. The article attributes retired Admiral Lee Hsi-ming, who served as chief of Taiwan’s General Staff from 2017 to 2019, with being the architect of Taiwan’s overall defense strategy, at which a porcupine approach was the core. Lee argues that the best option is to deter the enemy from attacking. This article also describes a scenario in which People’s Liberation Army forces gather around Taiwan to conduct standard military exercises prior to the unexpected attack. While larger Taiwanese targets, such as fighter jets and large naval vessels, would be easier to see and therefore destroy if taken by surprise by China, smaller mobile weapon systems that are well dispersed throughout the island and its environs—such as small missile-equipped boats, multiple rocket launchers, and mobile missiles—would be less vulnerable. However, according to the article, while Taiwanese leadership understands the importance of asymmetric weapons, the Taiwanese armed forces have not yet fully embraced the “porcupine strategy.”


Sources: 

“Editorial: ‘Porcupine Strategy’ the Right Move,” Taipei Times (Taiwan’s English-language sister publication of Liberty Times), 29 April 2022. https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/
editorials/archives/2022/04/29/2003777394

Taiwan’s Overall Defense Concept is based on a strategy of asymmetric warfare. Instead of acquiring expensive jets and submarines, the strategy focuses on deployments of mobile and concealable defensive weapons across Taiwan, especially missiles for use against ships and planes. This is the “porcupine strategy” — the pain of stepping on the animal’s quills becomes the main deterrent to crushing it.

Yoshiaki Nishimi, “Taiwan Military Expert: ‘Porcupine Strategy’ Could Deter Chinese Invasion,” Japan Forward (a new English-language news and opinion website), 27 January 2023. https://japan-forward.com/taiwan-military-expert-porcupine-strategy-could-deter-chinese-invasion/

…retired admiral Lee Hsi-ming, who served as chief of the General Staff of the Republic of China (Taiwan) from 2017 to 2019. He spoke to a group of reporters, including a Sankei Shimbun correspondent, in Taipei in November of last year. During his time in office, as the military power gap with China rapidly widened, [retired admiral Lee Hsi-ming, who served as chief of the General Staff of the Republic of China… from 2017 to 2019] sought ways to defend Taiwan through “asymmetric operations.” In fact, Taiwan’s “Overall Defense Concept,” which has this strategy at its core, is his brainchild.

Taiwan’s asymmetrical warfare strategy is commonly referred to as the “porcupine strategy.” A porcupine braces itself by hardening its many quills when faced with a huge predator. Similarly, this strategy is designed to prevent occupation by an invading Chinese force by inflicting severe pain (damage) with smaller weapons widely dispersed throughout the island. 

“Taiwan needs an asymmetric strategy to deter China,” Lee emphasizes. “That means having a large number of small weapons that are less susceptible to long-range attacks, more mobile, and capable of conducting precision strikes.”

“Taiwan does not have the strength to go toe-to-toe against China in a traditional ‘symmetrical war’ involving aircraft carriers against aircraft carriers, warplanes against warplanes, and tanks against tanks. After all, there is a disparity of more than twenty times between their defense budgets.”

Taiwan’s asymmetrical warfare strategy is commonly referred to as the “porcupine strategy.” A porcupine braces itself by hardening its many quills when faced with a huge predator. Similarly, this strategy is designed to prevent occupation by an invading Chinese force by inflicting severe pain (damage) with smaller weapons widely dispersed throughout the island.

“The best course of action is to deter the enemy and keep him from making a move,” explains Lee. “To that end, Taiwan must prepare itself as quickly as possible. We must demonstrate that we have the capacity to prevent a successful Chinese invasion.”Lee argues that the only option for Taiwan is “deterrence by denial.” In other words, a defense capable of physically blocking an attack by the other side. What scenario does Lee offer in which Taiwan would be able to repel the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)?


Notes:

[i] The concept of a porcupine strategy gained popularity following the 2008 release of a study published in the Naval War College Review. At the time, Taiwan was intent on building up its weapons systems to try to match those of the People’s Liberation Army. Countering Taiwan’s belief that like weapons would help to deter China from attacking, the study instead described using alternative asymmetric warfare to counter China’s short-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and manned tactical aircraft. For more information, please see: William S. Murray, “Revisiting Taiwan’s Defense Strategy,” Naval War College Review, Vol. 61, No. 3, Article 3, 2008. https://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1814&context=nwc-review

A Chinese Perspective on the Pitfalls of Military Intelligentization


“The growing use of intelligent weapons and equipment increases the risk of losing control in a crisis.”


Chinese military strategists are increasingly focused on developing practices of military “intelligentization,” the next generation of warfare expected to improve the military’s combat efficiency.[i] Intelligentization, also referred to as intelligent warfare, is the Chinese concept of applying machine speed and processing power of artificial intelligence (AI) to military planning, operational command, and decision support.[ii] The rate of developing intelligent weapons and systems is progressing at such a rapid pace, however, that it comes with potential risks, according to the following article published in the People’s Liberation Army’s official newspaper PLA Daily. According to the article, the anti-jamming ability of current intelligent systems is too weak, making intelligent systems more vulnerable. For example, drone command and control relies on communication links that connect the drones to rear personnel. If the communication link is jammed, the operator will lose control of the drone. Therefore, improved anti-jamming capability is necessary to ensure communications links are not disrupted. The article also explains that the reliability of today’s AI technology is questionable. While the AI systems’ level of intelligence is superior to that of a human, there is not yet a reliable test to ensure they will not fail in a complex combat scenario.

The article also warns that using intelligent weapons and equipment increases the risk of losing control in a crisis. For example, military operations that rely on intelligent weapons and equipment could surpass the speed of political decision making. This could weaken the decision-maker’s ability to control the situation. The article further warns that the use of intelligent weapons and equipment in large-scale combat could increase tension between countries as well as lead to changing the psychology of combatants, potentially causing them to become more desensitized to killing because of their greater distance from the battlefield and gradually reducing caution in decision-making.

The article notes that countries are increasingly pouring money into AI technology to gain military advantage, and this struggle for predominance could lead to a dangerous arms race. With current AI technology, for example, the algorithms used to distinguish civilians from combatants are not yet reliable, thereby potentially putting the lives of civilians at risk. Based on the article, there is still a long way to go before China has perfected the software to not only drive AI weapons and equipment, but also to test them to ensure they are ready to meet all the demands of the battlefield.


Source:

Luo Zhaocheng, “关注智能化武器装备运用风险 (Pay Attention to Risks in Using Intelligentized Weapons and Equipment),” PLA Daily (Official newspaper of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army), 5 January 2023. http://www.81.cn/ll/2023-01/05/content_10209877.htm

… Currently, the world’s major countries are vigorously pursuing the development of military intelligentization of weapons and equipment across the different operational domains. While the new technology greatly enhances combat capabilities, it also could pose some great risks.

…the anti-jamming capability of intelligent weapons and equipment is weak. This could cause a loss of operational control over systems. The intelligent weapons and equipment currently used by various countries often require command and control to be conducted by rear area personnel who rely on communications links. As these links are jammed, it will be difficult to return them to operational effectiveness… Iran’s successful capturing of U.S. drones through jamming technology is a typical example…

Artificial intelligence technology in certain fields is shown to far exceed human intelligence. However, its reliability and interpretability are questionable… Presently, countries have conducted repeated simulation tests and even actual combat using intelligent weapons and equipment. However, there is still no reliable testing method to ensure its dependability should it run into a complex battlefield environment.

Wide-scale application of intelligent operations could trigger an arms race, leading to the risk of disposition for unsafe AI systems…

The use of intelligent weapons and equipment can impact the international strategic balance and increase the risk of war breaking out. The use of smart weapons and equipment increases the risk of “firing the first shot.”

The growing use of intelligent weapons and equipment increases the risk of losing control in a crisis…

…Intelligent weapons and equipment put participating personnel further away from the battlefield. Participants’ apathy will grow as distance increases…


Notes:

[i] For other Chinese insights on intelligentization, see Cindy Hurst, “China: ‘New Concepts’ in Unmanned Combat,” OE Watch, October 2020. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/376077 and Peter Wood, “A Chinese Perspective on Intelligent Warfare and Future Urban Operations,” OE Watch, November 2020. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/376999

[ii] For an example of intelligent warfare, see Cindy Hurst, “The ‘Blade of Victory’: A Chinese Perspective on Drone Swarms,” OE Watch, March 2020. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/358341

China Likely To Boost Nuclear Triad

“China’s second-strike capability is powerful enough to destroy the globe.”


The following article, published in South China Morning Post (SCMP), anticipates[RG1]  that China is going to upgrade its air-, ground-, and sea-based nuclear delivery platforms to fulfill President Xi Jinping’s recent call for a “strong system of strategic deterrence.” SCMP, Hong Kong’s most prominent online English daily, based its information on interviews with various Chinese defense analysts. Zhou Chenming, a researcher with the Yuan Wang military science and technology think tank in Beijing, said that deterrence through conventional weapons during the Russia-Ukraine conflict revealed weakness on the battlefield, with both sides locked in endless fights and neither one able to use aircraft and tanks to overwhelm the other.[i] In contrast, according to Song Zhongping, a defense commentator and former instructor for the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Forces, “Russia’s powerful nuclear triad” had “deterred the U.S. and NATO from direct combat with the Russian military.” Therefore, analysts see further boosting China’s nuclear triad as a wise option.

To do so, Zhou Chenming argued that developing the Xian H-20 supersonic stealth bomber will help to further boost China’s nuclear triad. While Chinese authorities over the past years have remained tight-lipped about its capabilities and progress in development, Chinese experts expect it to have good stealth characteristics to provide defense penetration capabilities; a range of about 10,000 km, extendable through aerial refueling; both nuclear and conventional capability; and a fully advanced electronic warfare capability.[ii] According to the SCMP excerpt, the H-20 is expected to double China’s nuclear strike range. Zhou Bo, a senior fellow at Tsinghua University’s Center for International Security and Strategy, explained that China’s nuclear arsenal has always been smaller than that of the United States and Russia.[iii] Therefore, China “must modernize its capabilities” and increase its nuclear arsenal to become more effective. In contrast, according to Zhou Chenming, because of China’s “no first use” policy, the country does not need to expand its nuclear arsenal because China’s second-strike capability is “powerful enough to destroy the globe.”


Source:

Minnie Chan, “Upgrades for China’s Nuclear Triad as Xi Jinping Pushes for Stronger Strategic Deterrence: Analysts,” South China Morning Post (Hong Kong Chinese daily, once considered independent but now suspect of promoting China soft power abroad), 29 October 2022. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3197705/upgrades-chinas-nuclear-triad-xi-jinping-pushes-stronger-strategic-deterrence-analysts

Defence experts say China is expected to upgrade its air, ground and sea-based nuclear delivery systems – or nuclear triad – following President Xi Jinping’s call for a “strong system of strategic deterrence.”

Defence analysts said the Ukraine war and an increasingly uncertain global order had reminded Beijing that conventional weapons were not enough for real “strategic deterrence.”

“Deterrence with conventional weapons revealed their weakness on the battlefield of the Ukraine war, which has seen the Russian military and Ukraine’s NATO-aided forces locked in endless fights, as neither could use aircraft and tanks to overwhelm each other,” said Zhou Chenming, a researcher with the Yuan Wang military science and technology think tank in Beijing.

China’s strategic deterrence will be significantly upgraded once the H-20 is put into service…

Chinese military magazines and social media suggested the H-20’s maiden flight could happen this year, but Beijing has been reluctant to announce any progress on the bomber.

Zhou Chenming of the Yuan Wang think tank said that Beijing’s best option was to raise the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, rather than expand its nuclear arsenal and trigger an arms race.

“Since Beijing has promised to maintain its ‘no first use’ policy, China doesn’t need to expand its nuclear arsenal, as its nuclear technology is now on a par with the US and Russia, meaning China’s second-strike capability is also powerful enough to destroy the globe,” Zhou said.


Notes:

[i] The “Yuan Wang military science and technology think thank” can also be referred to as “Beijing Yuanwang Military Technology Think Tank” [北京远望军事科技智库] or simply “Yuan Wang Think Tank.” It appears to be an independent Chinese think tank that focuses oncutting-edgee technology and highlights aspects of defense.

[ii] See Zhang Lijun and Li Wei, “中国新一代远程轰炸机拥有五大突出特点 (The Five Outstanding Features of China’s New Generation of Long-range Bombers),” China Youth Daily (newspaper of the Communist Youth League of China), 16 February 2017. http://zqb.cyol.com/html/2017-02/16/nw.D110000zgqnb_20170216_1-12.htm

[iii] China is estimated to have 200 to 300 nuclear warheads.