The New Chinese Grand Strategy

Chinese Tactics > PART ONE: People’s Liberation Army Forces > Chapter 1: People’s Liberation Army Fundamentals > The New Chinese Grand Strategy

 1-15. China desires status as a world power, likely using Imperial Great Britain or post-World War II
United States as a model. This end state helps to achieve many smaller goals important to the Chinese:
global influence, economic development, internal security, and CPC primacy. China views this final
objective as incremental: it seeks to be a “prosperous society” by 2035, with the CPC still remaining the
dominant political entity in China. This objective likely implies China being a regional hegemon in the
Western Pacific, with a robust middle class and fully modernized military. The country desires to transition to a “leading world power” by the year 2049 (the centennial anniversary of the country’s founding), complete with a “world-class military.” These objectives are not nebulous, nor are they fanciful thinking—they are written into the CPC Constitution. Of note, despite the nature of these objectives, the Chinese government does not describe itself as seeking either regional or global hegemony.

1-16. Throughout Chinese history, beginning in the third century B.C. through the Second Sino-Japanese
War (1937-45), incursions, invasions, and occupations along China’s vast land border and coastline were
constant. This fostered a deep-set national sense of sovereignty and border sanctity among the Chinese.
Even in the Imperial Age (pre-1912), Chinese leaders sought to offset external threats through a combination of political savvy and military strength. China was historically the dominant economic and
military power in East Asia, and Chinese leaders used this power to try and ensure domestic security and

1-17. Much of this economic and military power was lost during the colonial and world-war periods, a
time the Chinese refer to as a “century of humiliation.” China’s transition to a Communist political and
economic system was a long and enormously destructive process that further marginalized its once-
dominant power. It was not until the late 1970s that the country’s resurgence really began. During this
recent period of enormous economic growth and political change, China again began to seek a position as a world power. Though the global environment has changed through the years, the Chinese approach to
security and economic growth has not.

1-18. China today seeks what it views as a restoration of its position as a global power through what are
described by the CPC as peaceful and relatively unprovocative means. Bilateral and multilateral
relationships are viewed as optimal, where all parties to a matter see benefit from an arrangement. China
seeks a positive relationship with the West—especially the United States—underpinned by a massive
exchange of trade and economic interdependence. China also seeks to modernize its military—not through
aggressive, short-term arms buildup, but through long-term investment and development. It also seeks
courteous—if not cordial—relations with its neighbors in East Asia. In short, China wishes to be a good
neighbor and a good global citizen.

1-19. This approach has thus far yielded mixed results. Territorial disputes across the Western Pacific and
East Asia, aggressive cyber activities, uncooperative diplomacy, questionable trade practices, and a
horrendous human rights record all undermine the Chinese goal of being seen as a benevolent superpower.
Activities that China views as fundamentally defensive—such as the establishment of artificial island
airbases in the South China Sea—are seen as aggressive and provocative by virtually every other party in
the region. Chinese cyber activities, seen by the nation as simple surveillance and deterrence activities,
have caused several high-profile international incidents.


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