As China’s military confidence grows, it’s now looking to “design” how war is fought

As China’s military confidence grows, it’s now looking to “design” how war is fought

By Kristin Huang*

China is expected to become more proactive in seeking to shape military events as its technology advances instead of following other powers, according to analysts.

But a shift to pre-emptive planning could push China’s neighbours in the Indo-Pacific and the United States to try to counterbalance its moves and possibly prepare for a “pre-war period”, they said.

The change was highlighted in an official publication released this month laying out China’s next five-year development plan to 2025. Xu Qiliang, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, wrote that China had to “broaden its strategic approaches to catch up, surpass and accelerate the transition from passively adapting to war to actively designing how a war is fought”.
He also said China had to give full play to the driving force of reform to build an innovative People’s Liberation Army. China has
set a target of 2027 for the PLA to become a modern military force, according to a communique released after a high-level meeting last month.

Song Zhongping, a former instructor with the PLA’s Second Artillery Corps, said the emphasis on “designing” war indicated that China would focus more on developing weapons for how it saw a future conflict may be waged, and in areas where other nations lacked strength.

“In past years, [China] has been passive, only responding to the plans of other nations, and the weapons they have,” Song said. “If we can get the upper hand in terms of how a war is fought and develop our strategy, then other nations will follow.”

One area would be developing drones to ensure different types of troops were equipped with such weapons, he said.

It represents a major strategic shift for China’s military, according to analysts.

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