China Prepares the People’s Liberation Army for War

china_pla_reutersby John J. Xenakis

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • China’s directive to the People’s Liberation Army: Get Ready for War
  • China steps up nationalistic war-like rhetoric
  • China’s historic mistake
  • 146 lines, 1183 words, 7376 characters
China’s directive to the People’s Liberation Army: Get Ready for War


China’s DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile

China’s General Staff Headquarters issued a harsh directive on Wednesday to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to prepare for war:

In 2013, the goal set for the entire army and the People’s Armed Police force is to bolster their capabilities to fight and their ability to win a war… to be well-prepared for a war by subjecting the army to hard and rigorous training on an actual combat basis.

Although past directives have directed soldiers to be prepared in case of war, this year’s directive, for the first time, uses the Chinese word “dazhang,” which means “fighting war,” and uses it 10 times in the 1000 word directive.

Last month, China announced plans to board and seize foreign ships in the South China Sea, starting in 2013, and has been conducting naval drills with warships in preparation.

While the official directive does not mention Japan, various commentaries makes clear that Japan is the would-be adversary. VOA, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)China Military Online (Beijing), and People’s Daily Online / Military (Beijing)

China steps up nationalistic war-like rhetoric

China’s military budget has been increasing exponentially for years, as I and others have reported, and this year it’s finally paying off: China’s military is deploying a large number of new warships, tanks, missiles, submarines, and strike aircraft, much of it in preparation for potential full-scale war with the United States.

These weapons include hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of mobile, nuclear ballistic missiles targeting American cities and newly developed missiles capable of striking and disabling American aircraft carriers. For the first time in its modern history, China has the firepower to contest control of disputed territory far from its coastal waters.

Flush with pride and confidence, senior officers in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are using increasingly hawkish and nationalistic rhetoric when discussing issues related to Japan or the United States. Some of these officers call for “short, sharp wars” to assert China’s sovereignty, or to “strike first,” “prepare for conflict,” or “kill a chicken to scare the monkeys.”

The United States has mutual defense treaties with Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and a number of other countries. The purpose of those treaties, signed after WW II, was to discourage anyone from starting a new war, since anyone fighting a war with one of these countries would automatically have a war with the United States as well.

Dai Xu, a Chinese Air Force Colonel, is arguing for a short, decisive war with one of China’s neighbors–Vietnam, the Philippines, or Japan–in order to establish sovereignty over the Pacific region without risking war with the United States. This is the “kill a chicken to scare the monkeys” philosophy. According to this theory, America will NOT honor its mutual defense agreements with any of these countries, because the U.S. will not want to risk having its cities destroyed by Chinese ballistic missiles. He points to China’s 1962 border clash with India, which China won decisively, leading to decades of peace.

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