The CCP Politburo holds “collective study sessions” on a semi-regular basis, in which an outside academic or government expert leads a discussion on a selected topic. Such sessions are important signals as to what issues the senior leadership finds important. The seventh collective study session of the 20th Central Committee Politburo was held on July 24, 2023 and was presided over by Xi Jinping. At this session, Xi delivered a speech on the importance of strengthening military governance to ensure better coordination across departments and services and deepen the integration of military and civil strategic efforts and capabilities.
Zhao Xiaozhuo, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, explains the trajectory of the Ukraine war in terms of two types of warfare: “mechanized warfare,” centered mostly on large-scale platforms such as aircraft and tanks, and “information warfare,” which more systemically integrates such platforms with other tools, including low-cost, dual-use technologies such as drones and social media. Zhao argues that Ukraine has used the latter to its advantage, which has enabled it to—among other things—take out Russian combat platforms through precision strikes.
Zhang Gaoyuan, a security scholar at Peking University, draws lessons for China amid what she terms the digital transformation of intelligence gathering. Zhang argues dual-use technology such as drones and Starlink satellites, open-source social media information, and efforts by non-combatants have been pivotal in guaranteeing Ukraine a steady flow of battlefield intelligence. As a prognosis for China, she promotes greater research into the opportunities and risks digital technologies present for intelligence acquisition and security.
Huang Bin, a former defense industry executive, draws lessons for Beijing from the Russia-Ukraine war, which he sees as worth attention due to rising turbulence in China’s security environment. Huang argues China should increase its military spending as a share of GDP, invest in systems that enhance battlefield situational awareness, step up the production of equipment for special operations, improve its military logistics capabilities, and leverage patriotic education to expand its counterespionage network.
A researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences, the PLA’s main research institute, argues that Russia’s performance in the Ukraine war so far has revealed a range of military deficiencies, including relatively limited battlefield situational awareness, underdeveloped automation of weapons systems, and military personnel shortages. That said, the author argues that Moscow has successfully used nuclear deterrence to discourage NATO from direct military intervention.
Wu Riqiang, a senior security expert from Renmin University, argues that Cold War arms control negotiations between the U.S. and Soviet Union showcase the importance of regular bilateral dialogue and transparency in military modernization to build confidence and avoid miscalculations between nuclear superpowers. As China’s security environment sours and tensions with the United States rise, Wu proposes that Beijing draw lessons from this historical example to develop an arms control approach that best safeguards national interests and security.
Ge Jun, a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officer and researcher, argues that as U.S.-China tensions worsen, Beijing should pursue confidence-building measures (CBMs) with the United States to improve its security environment. Ge draws on CBMs conducted by the United States and Soviet Union during the Cold War to suggest how the effectiveness of such efforts can be maximized, highlighting the importance of private communication channels, ensuring concessions are roughly equivalent, and first exploring other areas of cooperation to build up strategic trust.
In this sweeping analysis of China’s behavior in military crises since 1949, a prominent security analyst argues that Beijing has refined and improved its international crisis management paradigm over time and provides suggestions for future improvements. He argues that China should “closely integrate crisis management, conflict resolution, and opportunity management” as part of its peaceful development.
The CCP Politburo holds “study sessions” on a semi-regular basis, in which an outside academic or government expert leads a discussion on a selected topic. Such sessions are important signals as to what issues the senior leadership finds important. The July 29, 2022 session focused on cultivation of high quality personnel in the military forces to build a “world-class military.”
A chapter covering “strategic deterrence” from the revised textbook by the PLA’s National Defense University (NDU), which serves as an authoritative study reference for senior PLA officers on military doctrine and strategy. This chapter offers insights into the evolution of PLA missions and thinking about how modern technology, military and dual use capabilities, as well as domestic and international developments have shaped the theory and practice of strategic deterrence.