01 July 2007

An Accessible Window into Chinese Military Thought: The Science of Military Strategy

Andrew S. Erickson, An Accessible Window into Chinese Military Thought,” review of Peng Guangqian and Yao Youzhi, eds., The Science of Military Strategy (Beijing: Military Science Press, 2005), Naval War College Review 60.3 (Summer 2007): 133-34.

Since this book has deliberately been made accessible to an overseas audience, it is important to reflect on what message its English-language publication may be intended to convey.

This first English-language volume on strategy by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was translated by a team of experts at the Academy of Military Science from the original Chinese-language version (Zhanlüexue, 2001). Edited by two major generals with significant ability to shape PLA strategy as advisers to China’s powerful Central Military Commission (CMC) and Politburo Standing Committee, this volume undoubtedly reflects elements of critical policy trends in Beijing and hence merits close examination by foreign researchers and policy makers.

The 2001 Chinese-language version is used to educate senior PLA decision makers, including those on the CMC, as well as officers who may become China’s future strategic planners. Now in its fourth printing, it can be read along with a variety of other texts, such as the more operationally and tactically focused Science of Campaigns (Zhanyixue), published by China’s National Defense University in 2000, to better understand actual PLA doctrine.

Part One surveys China’s historical experience and development of military theory. Part Two offers Chinese perspectives on the laws and conduct of war. Part Three examines future warfare and the implications for China, including recent PLA experience and combat guidelines.