Anyone with any interest in trying to understand China should study and know the "three warfares." When my good friend Dean Cheng talks about China, I listen.
Winning Without Fighting: Chinese Public Opinion Warfare and the Need for a Robust American Response
By Dean Cheng
November 26, 2012
November 26, 2012
Abstract : Over the past decade, the People's Republic of China has exhibited a growing interest in waging asymmetrical warfare. The purpose of this interest is chilling: to enable the PRC to win a war against the U.S. without firing a shot. To this end, the PRC is expanding potential areas of conflict from the purely military (i.e., involving the direct or indirect use of military forces) to the more political. Such expansion will be fueled by manipulation of public opinion, legal systems, and enemy leadership. It is essential that the United States counter the PRC's new soft-power surge not only by rebutting political attacks, but also by taking the offensive and promoting America's positions to a global audience.
Over the past decade, the People's Republic of China (PRC) has exhibited a growing interest in waging asymmetrical warfare. To this end, the PRC released an initial set of regulations regarding political warfare in December 2003, before updating them in 2010. These "political work regulations" for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) address the importance of waging "the three warfares": public opinion warfare, psychological warfare, and legal warfare.
The "three warfares" represent the PRC's commitment to expanding potential areas of conflict from the purely military (i.e., involving the direct or indirect use of military forces) to the more political. Such expansion will be fueled by manipulation of public opinion, legal systems, and enemy leadership. But unlike more traditional military conflict, the foundation for political warfare must be established during peacetime so as to create beneficial conditions and context for the military conflict and, in turn, precipitate an early end to a conflict on terms favorable to the PRC. Indeed, if waged successfully, political warfare allows one side to win without fighting.
In hopes of being able to alter the strategic context of any future U.S.-PRC confrontation, the PRC is improving its ability to influence both global and Chinese public opinion. If the United States does not counter Chinese political warfare efforts, it may well find that its access to the Western Pacific is endangered by a lack of regional support—long before American forces even begin moving toward the area. In order to avoid being outmaneuvered by a PRC intent on winning without firing a shot, the U.S. must strengthen its strategic communications, public diplomacy, and media outreach capabilities.
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