China and "Unrestricted Warfare"

In this column (registration required), noted neocon Max Boot describes a Chinese military document that outlines what might be called guerrilla or asymmetric tactics that could be used to conquer the United States. Among other things, the document describes “financial warfare (subverting banking systems and stock markets), drug warfare (attacking the fabric of society by flooding it with illicit drugs), psychological and media warfare (manipulating perceptions to break down enemy will), international law warfare (blocking enemy actions using multinational organizations), resource warfare (seizing control of vital natural resources), even ecological warfare (creating man-made earthquakes or other natural disasters).”

Are Boot’s concerns the intemperate rantings of a modern-day Jacobite? Is he fixated on the “scheming Chinaman” stereotype? Or is there something to this? I’d be particularly interested in the views of people who have seen the original document, and especially those with the ability to discuss China’s military and politics competently and objectively. Boot entitled his column “China’s Stealth War on the U.S.”, which implies that these tactics are already being used. I’d be interested to know whether the original document is just an exploration of “creative” options (dusty stacks of similar tomes can probably be found in the Pentagon basement), or if it was intended as a concrete plan.

I wouldn’t doubt it if the Chinese military has drawn up plans for figting a war with the United States. It’s just one of those things that a military does to hone their planning skills. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve got folks in the Pentagon figuring out the strategy and tactics we’d use if involved in a war with China. Heck, we used to have plans on invading Canada in the early part of the 20th century.


I’ve no doubt the Cinese are thinking along these lines. And we’d eradicate their whole country down to the last man if they tried. But moreover, all of the above are difficult and indirect attacks.

It ain’t classified. And no, it’s not a concrete plan – that would be classified.

There’s no question that some of the things they describe are already being done by the Chinese … and the Americans, and the French and the British, etc. They think of George Soros’ involvement in the Asian Financial crisis as an example of economic warfare and the way the US got irtself invited into APEC (originally an Australasians-only idea) as an example of diplomatic warfare.

Of course that begs the question of where the line is drawn between “warfare” and simply “normal competitive political (yet still peaceful) relations.” But that is precisely their point: such a distinction rigs the game in the US’ favor. Once you declare war against the hyperpower, you’ve already lost. The only chance you have is to engage in war in non-warlike means.

So, yes, China can be said to already be engaged in warlike (in the “unrestricted warfare” sense) acts. Of course, what’s just as disconcerting is that, in their eyes, we are too. Read page 55 and ask yourself how many of those things someone might say the US is engaged in.

It’s also depressing to realize that in 1999, they all but predicted 9/11.

Jacobin, not Jacobite :smack: . Max Boot does not support the Stuart dynasty, as far as I know.

Hehe, you made the correction before I could.

As to the OP, I want to discuss this but am not sure I’m entirely qualified to. Most of my knowledge of China stems from their recent history (~1700-present) and with their current econonomic structure (fascinating in an of itself), but I know very little about their current military.

I’m looking forward to reading what others contribute to this though, it’s a great subject.

“Jacobin” ain’t really an appropriate label for Boot either, is it? A “modern-day Jacobin” in America would be someone who agitates for left-wing social/political revolution in America.

Wooo China…I’m sooo scared.
There is a world of difference between “war” and competitive economic and diplomatic activities. China certainly has it’s own interests just as every country does. Often, these interests may be not be aligned with the interests of the US. It is certainly reasonible, if not preferable that nations settle their differences through the use of economic or diplomatic carrots and sticks instead of military ones.

I do not believe that China wants to destroy us, however I’m quite sure they probably want a bigger seat on the world stage. It is a uniquely American attitude though to take the suggestion of not being in charge of everything as a personal affront.

For my part, I welcome our new Chinese overlords! :slight_smile:

I agree. The United States is a HUGE trading partner for China and China is growing a decent sized middle class that their leaders would not casually piss off at this point by an outright attack on the United States.

That said I do think the Chinese see themselves as heir apparent to be the world’s next superpower and view the US, to some extent at least (and rightly so), as a barrier to gaining that title.

Strange bedfellows and all that.

It surprises me not at all that the Chinese have figured out all sorts of plans for fighting the United States. That’s what militaries do if not actually fighting. The United States has doubtless done the same for China and probably most other countries bigger than Liechtenstein as well. If they didn’t someone is not doing their job. Doesn’t mean by a long shot that the current leadership has any intent of using them…just that they are comforted knowing if the shit does hit the fan they have some pan to fall back on.

It would be irresponsible for any nation’s military not to have plans in hand for fighting any other nation, including a plan for invasion/pre-emptive strike.

Baloney. I have no cite now, but I have read many times that analysts described a general sense of malaise after the collapse of the British Empire post-WWII.

The Soviet Union’s central figure continues to try to play the role of a big global player, which they most certainly aren’t (nuclear arsenal not withstanding). When their economy eventually fixes itself, then they may have it, but until then, they are a recovering nation, IMO.

The US has no problem sharing power, as long as the person we are sharing with is willing to continue sharing, but China, as a member of the (dead?) COMINTERN had in the past the stated purpose of spreading global communism through force of arms if necessary. Their repeated hostile posture towards Taiwan, their support of the regime in North Korea, their history of civil “rights” abuses all display a nation that the powers that be have determined is probably not in line with the intent of playing well with others.

While the US is not consistent in how it deals with foreign powers (we don’t complain much about comparable human “rights” abuses in, say, Saudi Arabia) this may be because we don’t view other nations as a threat to not only ourselves, but to the world at large.

I can’t believe I’m posting in GD! I must be insane!!

For being the foremost communist nation on earth the Chinese are looking remarkably more and more like capitalists. Granted they have a long way to go yet but the direction they have charted seems pretty well established and has a momentum all its own. I bet a wannabe Chairman Mao would find a mighty cold reception these days.

Chinese belligerence towards Taiwan I think is more due to Taiwan being a close US ally than any actual honest desire to go kill them all. China, IMO, sees themselves as the preeminent power in Asia and US meddling in the region ticks them off to no end. In the Chinese view the US should get out of their sphere of power and Taiwan and Japan are major hurdles in China being able to exert its will in what it sees as its own back yard. The reality anyway is short of nuking Taiwan China can’t do much of anything but rattle their saber on this. Actually invading Taiwan would be a massive undertaking, bring them into direct conflict with the US, cost a fortune, not net them much benefit and have an excellent chance of failure. If the Chinese started today it’d take them a few years to assemble their invasion force (no way they could do it today…they have nowhere near the transport craft necessary to make a go of it for one thing).

North Korea is just another thorn in the US side but I bet in private Beijing is not thrilled with their psycho neighbor. How China could want a nuclear armed North Korea with that regime with their finger on the button is beyond me. History is full of examples of a one time ally becoming not friendly. My guess is China is between a rock and a hard place as regards North Korea. To save face and keep up the guise of communist fraternity they must support their historical ally in the face of imperial aggression from the US (hell…Chinese fought the US over it…quite bloody). On the flip side the Chinese must know the North Korean regime is bonkers and they really have little in common anymore.

Part of the reason we went into Iraq. It may take several more years for things to change, but stay tuned. I assure you that the Neocons are not blind to America’s enemies in SA.

Your analysis is only half-way accurate. China insists that Taiwan is part of China. Taiwan, for all practical purposes, disagrees. Chinese leaders are using saber-waving against Taiwan to cover up for domestic instability back home. US “meddling” is only a tertiary issue.

Originally, the Jacobins were French radicals promoting change in France, but the term Jacobin was used early on to describe English supporters of the French Revolution. Today, it is a word that traditional conservatives use to tar neoconservatives, calling attention to the neoconservative belief that American military intervention should be employed to bring the American brand of government to a presumably grateful world.

Rule of Thumb: When a columnist starts suggesting perils that sound like they would be performed by a James Bond supervillian it’s usually a cue to tune him out.

It’s the Chinese authors, not Boot, who talk about these things.

I highly recommend reading the original - it was the most interesting thing I’ve read in a long time. It sounds like what would result if R. Buckminster Fuller had worked for the Rand Corporation. Let’s just say the authors have a pronounced fondness for the Golden Ratio. Thanks to furt for the link.

Well, to be fair, the Taiwanese (well, the Chinese in Taiwan) insisted that they were part of China until the '70s. They just got all huffy when the world decided they weren’t the ones who would be representing the whole of China anymore and weilding the UNSC veto. Then they decided that maybe they weren’t really a part of China after all.

The bolded portion is incorrect, or at best a gross simplification. The change in Taiwanese policy has come as a result of democritization. The mainlanders who came over in 1947 (and wanted to rule the mainland) have mostly died off, and their brutal autocracy slowly gave way to democracy. The change in policy matches pretty closely with the pace at which the actual Taiwanese population has gained power (and children of the mainlanders are assimilating).