Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hybrid Warfare With Chinese Characteristics

image from article, with caption: Image Credit: Chinese soldiers image via Hung Chung Chih /

The Ukraine Crisis has caused a renewed interest in the concept known as hybrid warfare (HW). There has been much speculation around hybrid warfare, and the concept has so far been notoriously hard to define. The description that seems to be most commonly accepted is that HW is a type of warfare which entails the use of a combination of different types of warfare by an adversary. This primarily entails employing a mixture of conventional and irregular troops in order for a specific actor to achieve its political goals. Furthermore, it also includes the widespread use of intelligence, propaganda and diplomatic means in order to persuade the adversary to surrender. The goal of an actor employing hybrid warfare is not merely the control of a piece of territory, nor the destruction of an opponent’s military force. ... 
Throughout China’s history, elements of hybrid warfare have often been crucial components of its conflicts with its neighbors. Imperial Chinese rulers often dealt with their “barbarian” neighbors by following a recipe based on the “four methods approach”. Firstly, foreigners should be kept divided by “using barbarian to fight barbarians.” This would entail using barbarian mercenaries and strategic alliances to ensure division among China’s nomadic neighbors. The contemporary analogy would be “diplomatic warfare”; neutralizing unfriendly states through public diplomacy, support for local insurgencies and pressure in international organizations. Secondly, if this failed, bribes and tribute would be presented to foreign leaders in order to dissuade them from attacking China. The current equivalent would be the granting of lucrative trade and aid deals — a sort of economic warfare combined with a “soft power” approach. Thirdly, China would build fortifications in order to deter outside attack. Finally, if all else failed, military expeditions would be deployed. ...

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