China Prepares for War

By | January 14, 2018

[January 14, 2018] There is an old saying that Communist and socialist nations possess militaries that perform poorly at war; especially at the tactical level. Experience seems to bear this out and thus it comes as no surprise that senior government officials in China believe their military to be unprepared for war, lazy, and complacent.

They blame the extended period of peace that has allowed their military to relax when they should have been vigilant. Many younger soldiers having grown up without ever seeing combat further imbues them with a sense of never having to use their equipment or depend upon their leaders.

The People’s Liberation Army has criticized its own military personnel for being paralyzed by peace as China ramps up preparations for war.* The last time the Chinese military was actually involved in a shooting war was in the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979 between Vietnam and China. Being a member of the U.S. military at the time, I remember reading about the conflict and how the Chinese PLA was defeated.

Chinese leaders should be worried about how their military will perform. Communist nations, as do socialist nations, rarely rely upon their military for classic military confrontation but use them mainly as a political arm of the state. This usually means acting to put down riots, guard senior civilian officials, or as a show of force.

The 1989 Tiananmen Square incident ( is an example of how a fully armed military cracked down upon unarmed demonstrators wanting more freedoms. Of greater concern to Chinese officials however is the Chinese philosophy and culture of warfare. Warfare in China is as part of their being as it is in the United States. For example, the Chinese view “peace” as an opportunity to conduct operations that put their enemies at the disadvantage (a good strategy).

That, however, is at the more senior levels of civilian and military governance. At the tactical level, the Chinese military lacks crucial warfighting skills, equipment reliability and capacity, and confidence in their ability to defeat or degrade a determined foe. We saw this in Vietnam and other local areas where their military was called upon to perform.

Senior military leadership in China is, for the most part, an unknown. Some of that information is known but classified so it cannot be reported here. The main point is that their senior leadership is untested at their current levels of employment and that concerns the Chinese government. What will be the outcome of a war to protect their border with India or any unpredictable conflict is questionable.

War is likely to happen and not at a time and place of their choosing. So is the belief of their government and expressing their concerns, while unusual, tells us what any government in their place would do. The last war of any significance China played a part in was in Korea in 1953; far too long ago to have an impact on what they would do today.

We will follow their developments and report on any significant changes here at Don’t expect to see much reported. Remember that China is a closed society where the media is an official arm of the government.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

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