PLA Thinking on Deterrence

Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, ...

Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, greets People’s Liberation Army (Photo credit: #PACOM)

In “Embracing the Moon in the Sky or Fishing the Moon in the Water” in the July-August 2012 issue of Air & Space Power Journal, Senior Colonel Xu Weidi at the PLA‘s National Defense University Institute of Strategic Studies offers his thoughts on the effectiveness and limitations of deterrence.

Col. Xu points out (correctly, I think) that the deterrence implicit in the strategic arms race conducted between the USSR and the US between 1945 and 1989 way have prevented nuclear war, but at great cost. Further, Xu reads the history through Sun Tzu’s lenses and finds our current understanding of deterrence as a strategic concept needs more nuance.

While anything published internationally by Chinese military officers is suspect (the notion of “academic independence” is, to say the least, rather underdeveloped under the Party’s watchful eye), there is at the end a veiled question aimed straight at the PLA: “how, to whom, and under what circumstances should a developing nation [i.e., China] demonstrate its deterring might?”

A fascinating read indeed.

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