Institute for National Strategic Studies

Chinese Views of Future Warfare


The Strategic Thought of Deng Xiaoping


Senior Colonel Peng Guangqian

Deng Xiaoping's strategic thought constitutes a scientific system with rich content. As opposed to philosophical thinkers, Deng Xiaoping's strategic thoughts were not the result of study; rather, they grew out of practical necessity in the course of leading and planning the unprecedented socialist modernization of the huge Asian country with a quarter of the world's population. They are characterized by the times and practicality. On this point, Deng Xiaoping's strategic thoughts are innately consistent with Mao Zedong's strategic thoughts. However, comparatively speaking, the main ideas of Mao Zedong's strategic thoughts matured during the revolutionary war years. His most brilliant thought was that which guided the millions of Chinese people to engage in the magnificent people's war. In this sense, we can say that the main body of Mao Zedong's strategic thoughts was composed of military strategic thoughts that guided the war, whose objective was to seize power through military struggle and to strive for our national independence and liberation.

Deng Xiaoping's strategic thoughts were formed and developed under the new historic conditions after the proletariat had gained power. They are based on the practice of Chinese socialist modernization as well as peaceful development in the world. Therefore we can say that Deng Xiaoping's strategic thoughts have modern China and the world as the framework, with their main goal as the peaceful development of China and the world at large. They can be epitomized in three major parts: international strategic thoughts, national development strategic thoughts, and national security strategic thoughts.

Seeking Peace and Development

Deng Xiaoping always thinks with a view on the general trend of mankind's development and has the international strategic environment as the backdrop. That is an important characteristic of Deng Xiaoping's strategic thoughts. He believes that the development of China can not be separated from the world. Deng Xiaoping's international strategic thoughts contain the following main points:

Socialist Modernization Drive

Development strategy is the core of Deng Xiaoping's strategic thought. Taking into consideration the characteristics of our times, the international challenges and opportunities that we face, the socialist development stage that we are in, as well as the purpose of the Chinese Communist Party and its goals in managing the country, Deng Xiaoping made a comprehensive analysis of the fundamental tasks, strategic objectives, steps, and focal points that we face at the initial stage of socialism. He put forward a whole set of ideas on creating socialism with vitality and revitalizing the Chinese nation.

Having studied the actual conditions in our country, and with great courage and realistic spirit, he drew the important inference that we are still at the initial stage of socialism, and set the strategic tasks for building a socialist market economy, thus he cast away the radical ideology that we had long been perplexed with. The theories of socialism at the initial stage and of the socialist market economy are the cornerstones of Deng Xiaoping's national development strategy. They have made important contributions to Marxism and laid the theoretical foundation for the speedy and healthy development of China's socialist modernization in the new era.

On the strategic goals of development, Deng Xiaoping issued calls to further liberate and develop production forces, to increase the comprehensive power of our socialist state and to increase our people's living standard continuously. He pointed out that the ultimate aim of the Chinese people is to turn our country into a prosperous, strong, democratic, and civilized socialist modern state.

With regard to the strategic steps for development, he linked long-term goals with arrangements for each step of development and set a realistic "three steps" development strategy. First, from 1981 to 1990, we should double our gross national product and basically solve the problem of food and clothing. So far we have already realized the first objective. Then, by the end of this century, our goal is to have our GNP reach $1 trillion, with a per capita income of $800 to $1,000. In other words, our goal is to reach a level of comparative prosperity. Within the ensuing 50 years, we shall strive to approach the level of developed countries and basically realize our goal of modernization.

Deng Xiaoping also had the strategic idea of "one central task and two basic points." That is to say, we should take the socialist modernization construction as the central task, while adhering to the policy of reform and opening up and upholding the four basic principles. This should be our Party's basic line in the new era. It has been proved by history to be the only correct line and is the lifeblood of our Party and people of all nationalities. We shall never have any doubt about this line.

On the strategic focal points of development, he made it clear that we should pay attention to economic development at all times, and wholeheartedly work on the four modernizations. He emphasized that the focal points are agriculture, energy, transportation, science, and education. For the first time, he put forward a thesis about science and technology being the main production force, and Chinese intellectuals being a part of the working class. He formulated a series of important policies on "respecting knowledge, respecting talents," and on holding a position in the area of high technology.

On the strategic requirements of development, he stressed that we should face up to the serious challenges of international competition in the current global economy as well as in the area of science and technology, and seize upon the historical opportunity. At a time when the international strategic structure is undergoing profound changes, and the socialist movement is temporarily at a low ebb, we should calmly observe and cope with the situation, be good at keeping a low profile, and try our best to do our work well in China.

On the strategic means of development, he stressed that we should take Marxism as our guiding ideology, and use practice as the only criterion of truth. We should not see books as dogmas, and not blindly copy foreign models. Rather, we should liberate our minds, seek truth from facts, go our own way, and build socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Creating a Stable Environment at Home and Abroad

The development of our country is closely linked with its security. The gist of Deng Xiaoping's strategic thoughts on national security is about creating a peaceful and stable strategic environment and a favorable situation, and providing strong security protection for the nation's development. Their main points include the following.

On the starting point of national security, Deng Xiaoping emphasized the idea of mutual security as well as security for the whole. He stressed the security interests of our own country as well as the security interests of relevant countries. He closely linked our national security with the security of our neighbors, our region, and even the world at large, so as to build up a genuine and reliable security environment.

On the building of national security strength, he dismissed the old idea of merely seeking military power, and instead suggested that we develop the comprehensive power of the country. National security lies in the overall development of the country, and national security strength should be thoroughly strengthened. With regard to the function of national security strategy, he pointed out that we should first of all strive to prevent the breakout of war and have crisis situations under control. The maintenance of peace will ensure that our national economic development and the smooth continuation of the four modernizations not be affected by the chaos of war. At a time when reform and opening up and socialist modernization are increasingly being carried out, Deng Xiaoping specially emphasized that we should uphold our independence and sovereignty, defend our socialist cause, and guard the policies and lines formulated since 1978. We should make sure that our country enjoys a long period of peace and stability.

On the relationship between national defense development and economic development, he stressed that defense development must be subordinated to and serve the needs of national economic development. Defense development is only a part of national economic development, and should be planned and developed in coordination with national economic development. The armed forces should actively support and participate in economic development, and the rich defense industry resources should be put into use in national economic development. We should greatly develop our civilian industry and try in every possible way to develop our national economy. When the overall situation is improved, and the national power greatly strengthened, it will be easier for our national defense development.

With regard to the guiding ideology for armed forces development, he stressed that we should have the combination of a small but highly trained standing army with strong large reserves. We should reduce the number of people in the armed forces, but improve the quality of our army, including overall qualifications of our officers and soldiers. The level of defense equipment should be raised, and an appropriate force structure should be established. We should strive to improve the fighting capability of our armed forces, so that they will meet the requirements of modern warfare.

On the strategy for military action, he insisted that we should have a policy of active defense, and practice people's warfare under modern conditions. We should be good at learning the new characteristics and new patterns of limited warfare under modern high-technological conditions. We should give full play to our strong points while striking the enemy at its weak points. We shall adopt flexible tactics to win future wars against aggressors.

The close interconnection between the above three parts constitutes the complete entity of Deng Xiaoping's strategic thoughts. The national development strategy is the core of Deng Xiaoping's strategic thoughts. The problem of development is not only a global strategic problem in the world today, but the main challenge and historical task that modern China is facing. Only when the problem of development is solved, our national comprehensive power is strengthened, and our people's living standards greatly increased, can our nation's ambition be realized and can we really stand up among the nations of the world. We could then effectively raise the level of the material and spiritual civilization of socialism and have genuine national security and international standing. The strategic thoughts on national development have all along occupied a leading position in Deng Xiaoping's strategic thought system. Other strategic thoughts are based on and conditioned by it. However, Deng Xiaoping's strategic thought on national development does not stand out in isolation, but is closely related to strategic thoughts on national security and international strategy. The development of modern China can not be separated from the outside world, especially at a time when the world is growing smaller each day. In the information age of closer relationships, practicing isolationism is suicidal. At the same time, the development of the country is not possible without necessary security protection. Because hegemonism and power politics still exist, we should definitely not give up our sacred right of self defense. Therefore, Deng Xiaoping has always considered China's development in the context of the overall world strategic situation and has adopted an active posture in international society, in order to acquire more energy for development through international exchanges. When he thinks of the problem of development, he thinks of opposing hegemonism and power politics and safeguarding world peace. He strives to have a stable security environment and a favorable international strategic situation to facilitate development. In Deng Xiaoping's strategic thoughts, international strategy and national security strategy must be subordinated to and serve the national development strategy. They are the precondition and basic guarantee for the realization of the national development strategy and are integral parts of Deng Xiaoping's overall strategic thought.

In summary, the focal point of Deng Xiaoping's strategic thought is about peace, development, stability, security, and national revitalization. It is the basic line in the development of Deng Xiaoping's strategic thought, and is the essence of his strategic thought.


General Zhao Nanqi

National defense has always been a high priority in Deng Xiaoping's strategic thinking. As the chief engineer of the Chinese modernization drive, Deng Xiaoping has always seen the modernization of national defense as an important component part of the four modernizations. Viewed from the strategic angle of global trends, and taking the fundamental national interests as the starting point, he has given comprehensive answers to a series of important theoretical questions on the building of China's socialist national defense in a period of relative peace.

The Guiding Ideology for National Defense Construction

The guiding ideology for national defense construction is the theoretical foundation for making general policies for national defense construction. Having a correct understanding of the problems of war and peace in modern times, and recognizing the need to change the focal point of domestic work, Deng Xiaoping changed the guiding ideology for national defense construction in a timely fashion. On the question of war and peace, he rejected the viewpoint that world war was unavoidable, and made the judgment that world war could be avoided. On the trend of our times, he pointed out that the new trend is peace and development. On the focal point of domestic work, he replaced class struggle with economic construction as the central task. The three conclusions were drawn at different times, but were related and affected each other. Because of these conclusions, we are required by history to have strategic changes in the guiding ideology of national defense construction.

Since the founding of new China, it had been the viewpoint of our Party for a fairly long period of time that war was unavoidable, or even imminent. It was objective and reasonable at the time, but it put our national defense construction in a constant state of having to cope with the imminence of war. It affected our national economic construction and restricted the development of national defense and armed forces building. Deng Xiaoping began to consider this problem in the mid 1970s. In 1975, he said that there would be no world war in 5 years time. Since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CCP Central Committee, the focal point of our Party's work shifted from class struggle to economic construction. But still many comrades both within and without the Party were concerned about the danger of war. Deng Xiaoping paid closer attention to the changes in the international situation. Each year he would say that war would not break out in 5 to 10 years. On October 10, 1984, he was more explicit in pointing out that our views had changed somewhat on the issue of the dangers of war. He said the breakout of war was still a possibility, but the factors for checking the outbreak of war were increasing. On March 4, 1985, he further pointed out that there had been pleasing development of the forces for checking the outbreak of war. On June 4, 1985, he finally made a clear statement at an enlarged conference of the Central Military Committee. He said that we had changed our original viewpoint on the imminence of war after analyzing the international situation. He believed it possible that world war would not break out for a fairly long period of time, and the maintenance of world peace was promising. On September 14, 1985, he further pointed out that war could be avoided if we did a good job.

On the basis of the new understanding of the issue of war and peace, Deng Xiaoping has made new judgment on the trend of the times. He believes that peace and development are the two major issues in the world today. His viewpoint has improved our understanding of the current international situation and is a prerequisite for making a correct strategy. Our understanding of the world today has changed from the point of view of war and revolution into one of peace and development. The change requires not only scientific analysis and judgment, but strategic courage as well.

After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CCP Central Committee, we changed our viewpoint of the international situation and we changed our policy. First, we changed our views on war and peace, and we believed that there would be no world war in a relatively long period of time. Secondly, there was an important change in our foreign policy. We changed our strategic policy on a united front to fight against Soviet hegemonism, and we adopted a foreign policy of independence. After that we set our minds on economic construction. The essence of the change was to make full use of the period of relative peace without major wars and to pay close attention to making plans for our modernization drive. Additionally, in accord with the national economic construction, we should constantly increase our national defense strength, and improve our capability of self defense under the conditions of modern warfare.

Focusing on Economic Construction,
Readjusting Defense Strategy

Having had a correct guiding ideology for national defense construction, we should work out a scientific development strategy for national defense, so as to make national defense construction most cost effective. As the development of national defense depends on the overall economic development of our country, the development strategy of national defense should first solve the problem of correctly handling the relationship between economic and defense construction.

Mao Zedong, in his article "On Ten Relationships," clearly explained the correct way to handle the relationship between economic and defense construction in times of relative peace. However, owing to various reasons, this was not well practiced in reality. Deng Xiaoping paid close attention to this strategic problem. In 1977, he pointed out that the modernization of national defense would be possible only after the development of the country's industry and agriculture. In 1980, he said that if the budget for the military was too large, it would not be conducive to economic construction. If the armed forces had too many servicemen, it would affect its modernization. It is our policy to reduce the number of people in the armed forces, so as to save money for the renewal of equipment. It would be even better if we could save more money for economic construction. In 1984, he further pointed out that we were in a time when the whole country should wholeheartedly support the national economic construction. The army should in no way hinder the overall situation of economic development, and must be subordinated to it. Moreover, Deng Xiaoping put forward specific suggestions for action-e.g. the air force could vacate some airports either for joint military and civilian use, or simply for civilian use, to support the nation's aviation business. The navy's ports could also be jointly used or turned over to civilian control, so as to increase our nation's shipping capability. In order to put the idea into effect, Deng Xiaoping especially emphasized at an enlarged conference of the Central Military Committee in 1985 that we must do well in our economic work, that to do so is our main objective, and everything else should make way for it.

Subsequently, he put forward a development strategy for national defense that suited China's conditions. He asked the armed forces to exercise forbearance in this century, and resolutely made the important decision to cut the military by one million servicemen. He also established new means for the building of defense science and technology, the defense industry, and the reserve force for national defense.

In light of the realities of the new era, Deng Xiaoping raised the goal of military development and proposed to have a revolutionary, modern, and regular military. To meet the requirement of modern warfare, and taking into consideration the conditions of our military, Deng Xiaoping pointed out that the key issue for our military was to enhance its ability to fight a modern war. The command system should gradually be modernized. We should have a strong air force, as control of the air is a must in modern warfare. Navy construction must pay attention to real fighting capability. We must rely on science, and only by doing so will we have a future. He paid special attention to regularization. Speaking during a military exercise in northern China in September 1981, he personally added "regular" to the goal of building a strong revolutionary, modern military. Among the three goals, modernization is the central task and the criterion is improvement of fighting capability. Regularization means systematization and rule by law, because in that way it would be effective and more reliable. Revolutionization is the guarantee of modernization and regularization. The military must be true to the character, that is to say that, it is the armed forces of the Party, of the people, and of the country.

Functions and Tasks of National Defense

The functions and tasks of national defense require the whole country to carry them out. The military is the main body of the national defense force, and shoulders the main tasks. The functions and tasks of our military are clearly stipulated in the constitution. Article 29 of the constitution says, the tasks of the national armed forces are to strengthen national defense, resist aggression, defend the country, and defend the people working in peace. In light of the domestic and international situation that we faced in the new era, Deng Xiaoping gave further clear definition to the function and tasks of our army. At the enlarged conference of the Central Military Committee on November 12, 1989, Deng Xiaoping pointed out that the army forces should make further contribution to the safeguarding of our national independence and sovereignty, the safeguarding of our nation's socialist cause, and the safeguarding of the lines and policies formulated since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CCP Central Committee.

On the development of the military and the national defense, Deng Xiaoping stressed this from the angle of the antiaggression and emphasized putting the military and national defense in the overall context of safeguarding national interests. He clearly pointed out in 1979 that it's inconceivable that our regular army, the public security organizations, the courts, and prisons should wither away. In his speech at the military exercises in northern China in 1981, he said that our army is the pillar of the dictatorship of people's democracy and should be the model in carrying out the lines and policies of the Party. After the political turmoil in 1989, he further stressed the importance of stability in the military. Our military should always be under the leadership of our Party. It should always be the guardian of the country, of socialism, and of our people's interests.

After the adjustments in our national security strategy and in our development strategy, and along with the speedy development of our national economy, the content of our national interests has been continuously enlarged. In light of the needs of our national security in the new era, Deng Xiaoping pointed out that the fundamental task for our army is to make further contributions to the safeguarding of our Party's basic line.

The most important thing that the army should do to safeguard the basic line is to provide a security guarantee for the central task of economic construction. Deng Xiaoping said on many occasions that the two prerequisites for our modernization drive are a peaceful international environment and a stable domestic situation. Therefore, what we most hope for are peace and stability. So far as the international environment is concerned, the bipolar world has ended, and world war is now avoidable. However, the world is undergoing complicated and profound changes. There are many uncertainties, and the dangers of war still exist. Our army should maintain sharp vigilance, shoulder the sacred duty of defending our country, and be prepared to fight against aggression. Domestically speaking, we are still in the initial stage of socialism, and we do not have a solid economic foundation. There is no enemy class, but hostile elements do exist. At the same time, we still face the problem of reunification of the motherland, and will soon resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macao. Furthermore, we are accelerating the speed of reform and opening up and will come across many new problems and contradictions in the course of setting up a socialist market economy system. We need a stable domestic situation, and the military is duty-bound to fight against aggression and to safeguard the domestic stability.

New Ways To Use the National Defense Force

Utilizing Comprehensive National Power
Deng Xiaoping believed that strong comprehensive national power is the effective guarantee for safeguarding the national security as well as world peace. In other words, comprehensive national power is the decisive factor in determining the strength of the national defense force. Deng Xiaoping once pointed out in 1980 that the successes we had in our economic construction would determine the role we would play in international affairs. When our country is developed and more prosperous, we shall have a bigger role to play in the world. The reunification of the motherland likewise depends on the success of our economic construction. Deng Xiaoping also pointed out that a stronger China means that there would be a more reliable peace in the world, for a more developed China would greatly strengthen the force for peace to restrain the breakout of war.

Strive for the Settlement of Disputes Through Peaceful Means

Under the new conditions of our times, safeguarding peace is in accord with the fundamental interests of our country. History has shown that mankind can not solve every dispute by going to war. Based on years of observation and study of the international situation of social struggle, Deng Xiaoping creatively put forward new ideas on international dispute solving through peaceful means. He has said that we need to have new ways to solve the various disputes in the world today. New problems need to find new ways. He pointed out that we should use peaceful means and not war to solve problems. It would be most proper to solve international disputes through peaceful means. For example, on the question of Nansha islands, we have proposed that on the condition of their recognizing Chinese sovereignty, we could have joint development with relevant countries. With regard to the political and economic problems in the world, we propose that a new international political and economic order be established. Creating new ways to solve problems-which normally are pursued but not necessarily solved through war-by using nonviolent means is, in Deng Xiaoping's words, quite unconventional and requires one to have strategic courage to make the suggestions.

People's Warfare, and the Strategy of Active Defense

We do not want war, but we should be prepared to fight to defend our national interests. What kind of guiding ideology and strategy should we adopt if and when war is forced on us? Deng Xiaoping believes that under modern conditions, people's warfare is still the magic weapon for defeating the enemy. He has pointed out that should the enemy come now, practice has shown that so long as we uphold people's warfare, we will be able to win the war in the end with the weapons we have available. We have always had the experience of being able to defeat a superior enemy force with our inferior weaponry, because we have been fighting just and people's wars. As people's warfare is different now than in the past (those wars were fought with different equipment, by different means and in different forms), we need to remember Mao Zedong's thoughts on military affairs and study people's warfare under modern conditions. By doing so, we will be in an invincible position.

In light of the changes both at home and abroad, and based on the ideas of people's warfare, Deng Xiaoping has reestablished the strategic policy of active defense. The nature of the strategy is defensive, but it is active in substance at the same time. In the event of war, we should adopt vigorous measures to fight. Our point of departure should be to defeat the enemy's superior force with our inferior equipment. Deng Xiaoping has also put forward a series of ideas on the question of future warfare, e.g., strategic thought on the navy's offshore defense and the air force's control of the air. He asks the whole armed forces to strengthen the study of people's warfare under modern conditions and to develop military science for our country.

Practice has shown that Deng Xiaoping's theory on national defense construction is in accord with the theme of our time and suits the needs of modern warfare. It reflects the needs of our national security in peacetime and serves as the guiding principle for military development and for the development of our national defense in the new era.


Colonel Hong Baoxiu

In order to correctly formulate policies, it is important to have a scientific analysis of the international situation and an accurate assessment of the trends of war and peace. After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CCP Central Committee, Deng Xiaoping put forward a series of new points of view and judgments on the issue of war and peace, thus enriching the theory of war and peace.

Trend of the Times: Peace and Development

As early as October 31, 1984, Deng Xiaoping said, "There are two outstanding problems internationally, one is the problem of peace, and the other is the north-south problem." In March 1985, he said again, "The real major issues of the world today, issues of global strategic proportion, are the problem of peace and the economic problem or the problem of development. The problem of peace is the east-west problem, and the problem of development is the north-south problem. In summary, there are the issues of east, west, north and south." Deng Xiaoping vividly summarized the complicated current international issues into four words, and brought to light the major contradictions in the world today, expounding that the theme of our times has changed from war and revolution to peace and development.

Based on the understanding of the theme of the world today, Deng Xiaoping put forward guiding principles for domestic and foreign policies that conform to peace and development.

With regard to our foreign policy, Deng Xiaoping pointed out, "We adopt a foreign policy of opposing hegemonism and safeguarding world peace." He stressed, "China is a force for the maintenance of world peace and stability, and is not a force of destruction. The stronger China becomes, the more reliable world peace will be. In the past, there were people in the world who believed that China was 'warlike'. I and other Chinese leaders, including late Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai, have stated on many occasions that China hopes for peace most. . . . It is important for us to set up an image of force for peace, and for restraining war. That should be the actual role we shall play in the world." Under the guidance of this policy, we have improved our relations with the United States and the former Soviet Union, strengthened our cooperation with Third World countries, and energetically developed our relations with Europe and Japan. Deng Xiaoping has all along adhered to the foreign policy of safeguarding world peace. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, with drastic and profound changes taking place in the world, Deng Xiaoping asked us to calmly observe and cope with the situation and hold our ground. He pointed out, "We should persist in having exchanges with all countries, and should strengthen our exchanges with the United States and the Soviet Union. No matter what happens in the Soviet Union, we should calmly develop our relations with it on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence. That should include our political relationship and we should not hold any debate on ideology."

With regard to our domestic policies, Deng Xiaoping emphasized that we should take full advantage of the historical opportunity of international relaxation and speed up our own development. He said that there would be a relatively long period of peace in the world, a world without the outbreak of a third world war. We should firmly grasp the central task of economic construction, taking advantage of the opportunity. Now is the best time for reform. During his inspection tour of southern China in 1992, Deng Xiaoping said, "I worry about missing the opportunity. . . . If we do not develop, or if we develop too slowly, there will be problems when people make a comparison. . . . Troubles occur in some countries in the world. Essentially speaking, the reasons for these are the bad performance of their economy, people don't have enough to eat and wear, the increase in wages is eaten up by inflation, and there is a decline in the standard of living." With a strong sense of urgency and responsibility, Deng Xiaoping has repeatedly stressed the need to speed up our development. He pointed out, "Whether we can withstand the pressure of hegemonism and power politics, and uphold socialism, will depend on whether we can have a speedy development and realize our development strategy. . . . So long as we can accomplish this, we will be as stable as Mount Taishan."

New Predictions for War and Peace

On the issue of war and peace, the traditional point of view holds that so long as there is imperialism, wars are unavoidable. After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CCP Central Committee, Deng Xiaoping made new predictions and judgments on the developing trends of war and peace of our times. In his speech at the enlarged conference of the Central Military Committee on June 4, 1985, he said that our viewpoint has always been that war is unavoidable and imminent. After careful observation of the situation in recent years, we now believe that "it is a possibility that world war on a large scale will not break out for a relatively long period of time. The maintenance of world peace is promising." Deng Xiaoping's new judgments on world war are correct conclusions based on the scientific analysis of the international situation.

Wth the rivalry and confrontation between the two large groups of east and west and between two superpowers ended, the major factors that could lead to world war no longer exist. "Only the two superpowers have the capability to fight a world war, others do not have such a capability." The old situation of U.S.-Soviet confrontation changed after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The danger of a U.S.-Russian collision leading to a world war has greatly lessened. Different forces in the world are disintegrating and realigning, and new antagonistic military groups that are capable of fighting great wars will not be formed for quite a while.

As arms race among world powers has receded to second place, and development in economics, science, and technology has become the focal point of competition. Deng Xiaoping pointed out, "The new scientific and technological revolution is fast developing in the world. Economics, science, and technology are increasingly taking on prominent roles in the global competition. The United States, the Soviet Union, developed and developing countries are all facing the situation seriously." For some time that the major military powers of the world have been cutting down the number of their armaments, and the arms race has been cooling down. Major powers are carrying out economic reforms and adjustments, and vigorously developing new high technology, in order to have economic and technological superiority and gain the initiative strategically.

The world economy is developing in the direction of regionalization, globalization, and groupings, resulting in interdependence and integration, and has become an important factor restraining the outbreak of world war. After World War II, the economic activities of the world became more and more globalized. We have seen surges in the development of multinational corporations, international merges, joint ventures, and the internationalization of share holders. Currently, there are 37,000 multinational corporations in the world, and their products account for 40 percent of the world's total. As economic life becomes more internationalized, the features of regionalization and groupings become more prominent. As the world economy becomes more integrated, it creates situations of interdependence. Under such circumstances, should one side launch a war, it not only strikes the other side but damages its own interests as well.

The terror of nuclear weapons is also an important factor restraining the outbreak of war. Deng Xiaoping once said, "Both the United States and the Soviet Union have a lot of nuclear as well as conventional weapons. Each is capable of destroying the other, and neither dares to strike first." After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the United States and Russia quickened their pace of nuclear disarmament. The presidents of the two countries made statements that they no longer see each other as targets of their strategic nuclear weapons-but they still own over 95 percent of world's nuclear weapons. According to their disarmament agreements, the two sides will still maintain a stockpile of 20,000 nuclear weapons. Therefore, nuclear terror remains an important factor restraining the outbreak of war.

As the world's multipolar process speeds up, the forces for peace outweigh the elements of war, effectively checking world war. The end of the old structure has seen the quickening of the trend of multipolarity. Though the United States has become the only superpower, it lacks the economic power to dominate the world. Germany and Japan have increased their economic power and political influence, but their military strength is still constrained by various domestic and international factors. The Soviet Union has disintegrated, but Russia is still a strong military power, particularly it is a nuclear power that should not be overlooked. Though Third World countries are in a relatively difficult situation, they are a force to be reckoned with in international politics. With its political and social stability, and with its independent foreign policy of peace, China has become an important force behind the preservation of world peace and stability. In a word, acceleration of the world's multipolar process has created a situation whereby various forces are increasingly balancing each other. This shall be advantageous to world peace.

World war can be avoided, but it does not mean that there will be no wars in the world. As Deng Xiaoping believes, "World war can be postponed, but accidental incidents and local circumstances are not entirely predictable." After the end of the Cold War, there was an imbalance of international forces. New factors of instability are on the rise in some regions, and there has been an increase of local wars and military conflicts. Many countries have changed their armed forces' central task to countering regional threats and being prepared to win local wars.

Hegemonism, the Root Cause of the Modern War

It was the viewpoint of Marx and Engels that private ownership and the existence of classes were the root cause of war. Lenin raised the point that "modern wars grow out of imperialism." On the basis of analysis of the post-World War international situation, Deng Xiaoping pointed out, "The contention for hegemony is the cause of the current world's intranquillity. . . . war is closely associated with hegemonism." He expounded on the Marxist theory of the root cause of war and brought to light the root cause of modern wars.

Deng Xiaoping once said, "There is global hegemonism as well as regional hegemonism in the world." Since World War II, global hegemonism has constituted a menace to world peace, while regional hegemonism has been an important factor causing local wars and military conflicts. Relying on their relative strong power in the region, some countries have been pursuing expansionist policies and constantly creating disturbances. They have provoked military conflicts or local wars with their neighboring countries. This has been a major cause for modern wars.

Because hegemonism is the chief menace to world peace, we must oppose hegemonism in order to safeguard world peace. Deng Xiaoping said, "The Chinese foreign policy can be basically summed up in two sentences. One is that we oppose hegemonism and safeguard world peace. The other is that China will always belong to the Third World." He also stressed, "Whoever practices hegemonism, we will fight against him, and whoever commits aggression, we will fight against him."

New Analysis of Forces for Safeguarding World Peace

Lenin believed that the proletariat was the key to peace. Stalin proposed that the prevention of world war and the safeguarding of world peace in large measure depended on the unity and strength of the socialist camp. Based on Mao Zedong's theory of three worlds, and in accord with the changes in the international situation in the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping made a new assessment of the forces for safeguarding world peace. First, the Third World is the mainstay of the forces for peace. Deng Xiaoping believes, "The growth of forces for world peace has outpaced the growth of forces for war. The forces for peace consists, above all, of the third world." The population of the Third World accounts for about three-fourths of the world's total. Third World countries have long suffered from aggression and domination by foreign countries. They have had too much suffering because of backwardness and aggression. They eagerly desire a peaceful international environment in order to devote major efforts to the development their economies.

Second, China belongs to the Third World and is an important force for safeguarding world peace. Deng Xiaoping said, "China will always belong to the Third World. . . . As the most populous nation among the Third World countries, China is an important factor for the development of the forces for world peace." Since the founding of new China, it has played an important role in the fight against war and in safeguarding peace. In the 1950s, China put forward the five principles of peaceful coexistence and won the approval of peaceful forces in the world. In the 1970s, a triangular relationship evolved under the exceptional international environment. China played a restraining role in the contention for hegemony between the United States and the Soviet Union. As our modernization construction continuously forges ahead, our international standing will rise.

Third, the second world of developed countries are also an important force checking war. In one of his meetings with foreign guests, Deng Xiaoping said, "Europe is the crucial region for determining the question of war or peace. Western Europe and Eastern Europe are both forces for the safeguarding of peace. They both want development. The more they are developed, the greater the forces for peace will be." He also said, "The people of the United States and the Soviet Union do not support war either. The world is big and complicated, but if you look at it closely, there aren't many people who are really for war. The people want peace and are opposed to war."

By assessing the forces for world peace, Deng Xiaoping has changed our old way of analyzing according to class, ideology, or social system. He has told us that, not only the proletariat and socialist countries are forces for peace, the capitalist countries can also become forces for peace. Not only the people in the capitalist countries can become forces for peace, their governments can also be forces for peace in a given period of time.

New Ways to Solve International Disputes

In the past, classical Marxists emphasized that the safeguarding of world peace should be accomplished through war and revolution. How do we solve international disputes and safeguard world peace in the age of peace and development? Deng Xiaoping has said, "there are a lot of disputes in the world, and we need to find a solution to the problem. I have been thinking for many years as how to use peaceful means and not war to solve the problem. . . . We Chinese stand for peace, and hope to solve disputes by peaceful means." In accordance with the above view, he creatively put forward new ideas on safeguarding world peace and solving international disputes mainly by peaceful means:


Colonel Hong Bin

The views on national interests are the views that concern those fundamental questions like the survival of the nation and development requirements. Deng Xiaoping's views on national interests form the essential basis by which he conducts state affairs and makes important strategic decisions. To learn Deng Xiaoping's views on national interests is the starting point to understanding the logic of his strategic thoughts and strategic decisions.

Our National Interests Are the Common Interests of All the Chinese People

National interests are closely linked with the main requirements of the states, classes, nationalities, and other social groups. Different social groups have different values and requirements, so their views on national interests and on the nature of the national interests would not be the same.

Whenever Deng Xiaoping speaks on the issues of national interests like sovereignty, national reunification and national development, he often associates these with our people's requirements, wishes and emotions. In September 1982, Deng Xiaoping talked with British Prime Minister Thatcher on the question of Hong Kong. He said, "If China does not recover Hong Kong in 1997, that is, 48 years after the founding of the People's Republic of China, no Chinese leader or government would be able to explain this to the Chinese people. People would have no reason to have confidence in us." When speaking with an Indian delegation on the Sino-Indian border issue, Deng Xiaoping said, "This is a problem left over by history. You have your people's emotions, and we have ours. The two sides would only be able to persuade our own people by taking a package plan." When commenting on the reunification of the mainland and Taiwan, he said we should take the method of "one country, two systems. . . . By doing so, we would be able to give an explanation to the people." When commenting on the policies safeguarding the national interests, he said, "I want to tell you today that our policies will not change. No one will be able to change these policies, as they are effective and correct, and have the support of the people. Since they have the support of the people, whoever wants to change them will be opposed by the people." These comments have shown that the national interests that Deng Xiaoping talked about are inseparable from the requirements and wishes of the broad masses of the people. Our national interests are the common interests of all the Chinese people. The nature of our national interests is its affinity to the people.

We may understand the nature of our national interests from these aspects:

National Interest As the Ultimate Criterion

In his meeting with U.S. President Nixon, Deng Xiaoping said, "When considering relations between states, we should mainly proceed from our national strategic interests. . . . We should not raise a great fuss about historical grievances, or about differences in social systems and ideology." Instead, "We should take our national interests as the highest criterion when conducting talks and dealing with problems." Deng Xiaoping used the word "highest criterion" in the meeting and clearly showed the exceptional importance the national interests hold in strategic policy decisions on conducting state affairs:

National interest is the criterion that we use to set our strategic goals. Our strategic goal is to realize development interest and safeguard national security. We want to have a prosperous economy, stronger comprehensive national power and higher international standing. We should develop further detailed considerations in the fields of economics, politics, military affairs, and foreign affairs to pursue our national interests. National interest is the criterion that we use to determine our relations with other countries. Ours is a peace- loving country. We would like to have friendly relations with all the countries in the world based on the five principles of peaceful coexistence. But no country should infringe upon China's interests, and "should not expect that China would swallow such a bitter pill." National interest is also the criterion that we use to judge the rights and wrongs of the strategic decisions. In international relations, nations normally judge the rights and wrongs of their strategic decisions according to their national interests. Deng Xiaoping pointed out, "The Chinese people have their own national dignity and sense of pride. It is their great honor to love their country and devote all their energy to the socialist construction. It is their great shame to see the interests, dignity and honor of their socialist country being infringed upon." To judge the rights and wrongs of a domestic or foreign strategic decision, we should first of all make sure it has not damaged the national interest. For instance, when commenting on the soundness of our Hong Kong policy, he said, "The maintenance of prosperity and stability in Hong Kong is in keeping with the vital interests of China." When commenting on the question of reunification of China, he said, as a special administrative region, Taiwan will be able to enjoy special policies, but "on the condition that it should not infringe upon the interests of the unified country."

Safeguarding the Interests of the Country is

Safeguarding the Interests of the Nation

Deng Xiaoping places special emphasis on the identity of safeguarding the interests of our country with safeguarding the interests of the Chinese nation. When speaking on questions relating to national interest, he often mentions the "unity of the Chinese nation," or "the descendants of the Chinese nation." In using the word nation, he refers not simply to the Han nationality or minority nationalities, but to the entire Chinese nation, to include all nationalities. The nation is the main body representing the interests of the whole people and has the same meaning as the word country does. Deng Xiaoping often uses the concept of "Chinese nation" and "country" alternately. He links patriotism with safeguarding the national interest, and sees any activity that places the national interest first as patriotic conduct safeguarding the national interest.

The Chinese nation is the largest nation in the world, comprising over one-fifth of the world's population. The Chinese people have the same language and culture and a unique way of being identified with their country. Deng Xiaoping has said that we should strive for the great unity of the whole Chinese nation. Every Chinese, no matter what clothes he or she wears, and no matter what position he or she takes, should have the sense of the pride of the Chinese nation. He has made repeated statements that the cause we are undertaking is the cause of national revitalization. Safeguarding the national interest by our Party is safeguarding the interests of the whole Chinese nation. All Chinese people should unite under the banner of national interest. The unity of the Chinese nation means the unity of one-fifth of the world's population and is a tremendous force. The unity of the Chinese nation itself reflects the national interest of our country.

The reunification of China lies in the interest of our country as well as in the interest of the Chinese people. As Deng Xiaoping said, "The realization of the reunification of the country is the aspiration of the whole nation. If we could not accomplish it in one hundred years, we should do it in one thousand years." It has been a big problem long under consideration by Deng Xiaoping to work out solutions to the Hong Kong and Taiwan questions and for reunification of the country. To this end, he has proposed the strategic idea of "one country, two systems," which is based on the fact that the Mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and overseas Chinese have all identified themselves with the country and with the Chinese nation.

Deng Xiaoping's comments on the identity of safeguarding the interests of our country with safeguarding the interests of the Chinese nation are comments centered on the unity of the nation, safeguarding the sovereignty and the reunification of the country, as well as the goals of promoting the prosperity of the country. His aim is to safeguard the fundamental interests of the country and for the peace and progress of the world. This kind of national unity is wholly just and fundamentally different from the "narrow nationalism."

National Interests with a Global View

When dealing with questions that involve interests of other countries, or state-to-state relations, Deng Xiaoping often takes into consideration both our national interests and the national interests of the other countries. When commenting on the Sino-U.S. relationship, Deng Xiaoping said to the U.S. special envoy Mr. Scowcroft, "To get along with each other, we should respect each other and show consideration for the other side. We'll then be able to resolve the disputes. It won't do to show consideration for just one side. When both sides yield a bit, we should be able to find acceptable and good ways." He has also reminded people, "From the global point of view, the development of China is conducive to the world peace and to the economic development in the world." Deng Xiaoping has raised an important principle and a new way in the safeguarding of national interest. That is to say, we must widen our outlook and consider questions of national interest in light of the relationship between the countries concerned and with a world view. This is an important strategic thought of ours in safeguarding the national interest.

In international relations, national interests of various countries are obviously interrelated. The change in one's national interests might touch upon the national interests of the other countries. In handling state-to-state relations, we should follow the principle of harmonizing the common interests of the people of the world with our own national interests. That is to say, on the premise of safeguarding the fundamental interests of our country we should integrate the national interests of our own with the interests of the people of the world, as well as with the national interests of the countries that we are dealing with. We should fully recognize that our national interests and the common interests of the people of the world coincide and actively seek new ways and new methods to solve disputes in order to have peaceful coexistence with all the countries in the world.

Deng Xiaoping once said to some American friends, "China is of special significance in the world, and it has a bearing on the stability and security of the international situation. Should there be turmoil in China, it would create a big problem, and would certainly affect the world. It would neither be a good fortune for China, nor for the United States." He often reminds heads of states from abroad to notice the big market advantage of China, "hoping that international businessmen would consider cooperation with China from a global perspective. History would show that those who have helped us would gain benefits greater than their assistance." It would not only be beneficial to the construction and development of our country, but would exert profound influence on the promotion of peace and development in the world.

Sovereignty and Security Come First

The national interests are reflected in the fields like national sovereignty, security, economic development, international standing and dignity and are put in the order of priorities.

As Deng Xiaoping has clearly pointed out, "The sovereignty and security of the country should always come first." The sovereignty of exercising independence is the essential symbol of a nation being an independent entity in international relations, while security is the precondition of the survival and development of a nation. Therefore, sovereignty and security should be placed ahead of all other national interests. The above statement shows that national sovereignty and security are highly placed in the structure of our national interests and indicates the resolute stand and clear attitude we hold in safeguarding these interests.

Deng Xiaoping's view of national interest emphasizes the importance of national sovereignty and security and has a high practical relevance. First, on the question of national sovereignty and security, there is no room for maneuver. On the question of Hong Kong returning to the motherland, Deng Xiaoping said to Mrs. Thatcher, "On the question of sovereignty, there is no room for maneuver for China. Frankly speaking, the question of sovereignty is not a question that can be negotiated with." This clearly shows that, at no time and under no circumstances, should we barter away national sovereignty and security interests.

Second, resist the talk about "the idea of sovereignty is obsolete," and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security. Currently, some people in the west have tossed out ideas like "a civil war is not domestic affair," "human rights are above sovereignty," etc. As Deng Xiaoping has refuted,

Some countries have used as pretense the stuff like human rights and saying socialist system is not rational and illegitimate. But actually, they want to infringe upon our national sovereignty. Those countries who practice power politics have absolutely no right to talk about human rights. They have harmed too many human rights in the world! Starting from the Opium War of aggression against China, they have harmed too many human rights in China! . . . The Chinese people will never accept any action that violates the norms governing the international relations, and will not yield to pressure. . . . China will never let other people to interfere in its internal affairs.

Long-term Interests of the Country

Deng Xiaoping has repeatedly pointed out that, when considering and making decisions on questions of national interests, we should focus on the long-term interests of our country. Our long-term interests are those that concern our "national capability" and important interests that reflect the "symbol of prosperity and development stage" of our nation. "National capability" means the full strength of a nation in conquering nature and not being conquered by other nations. It also means the comprehensive power of a nation. This capability is mainly reflected in a nation's level of development in the field of science and technology, and in it's economic power.

In safeguarding national interests, long-term national interests should always be placed first. When there is a conflict between long-term national interests and immediate partial interests, we should put the interests of long-term development first and should not be concerned with just the present. When our long-term national interests require us to sacrifice some immediate partial interests, we should be willing to pay the price and suffer some losses. We should have the courage to sacrifice some immediate partial interests in exchange for long-term important interests. Deng Xiaoping once reminded us on the question of opening up, "We should hold high the banner of further opening up and be courageous. It is certain that we will suffer some losses for the present. But we should not be afraid of that, so long as it is beneficial in the long run."

Deng Xiaoping believes that the above principle and ways of safeguarding long-term national interests are not only applicable to our country, but to other countries as well. He often talked to foreign leaders about the necessity of avoiding quibbling over some past and immediate interests. Instead, each state should focus on the long-term interests of its own, and try to solve disputes by seeking common ground while preserving differences. In his meeting with Mr. Gorbachev, he said, "The purpose of our meeting is to put an end to the past, and open up the way to the future. Putting an end to the past means that we do not need to talk about the past. The emphasis should be put on the matters of opening up the way to the future." When commenting on the Sino-U.S. relations with Mr. Nixon, he stressed that the two sides "should each focus on its own long-term strategic interests. At the same time, the two sides should respect each other's interests and do not make a fuss about past grievances." In his talk with former Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone, he especially emphasized the need to "be far-sighted to develop Sino-Japanese relationship." It's in the interests of both sides.

Stability Is the Highest Priority

Deng Xiaoping has stated on many occasions that the main purpose of our political reform is to have a stable environment: "Stability is the highest priority of interests for China. . . . It is the key to China's effort to shake off poverty, and to realize the four modernizations. . . . The essential condition for China to reach its goal of development is to have a stable domestic and peaceful international environment." The reason that Deng Xiaoping called stability the highest priority of interests is because it is an overall reflection of national interests like national sovereignty, security, and economic development at the present stage.

Only by maintaining social stability can our economic reform measures be carried out, a fine investment environment be set up, and the talents of the Chinese people be focused on the four modernizations drive. In this sense, stability is currently the highest priority of interests that we must maintain.


Senior Colonel Wang Naiming

In the new era, though world war might be postponed or avoided, local wars and regional conflicts are far from over. We eagerly hope for peace, but peace is achievable through struggle. We are devoted to development, but development needs defense which is achieved through readiness to fight. In the new situation of tremendous change in strategic environment and rapid development of military technology, the question is how to seize and maintain strategic initiative and to win victory in the future anti-aggression war. As the leader of our party and the top military leader, Deng Xiaoping has established for us to practice active defense policy and people's warfare under modern conditions. This is the fundamental guiding policy for our national defense construction and army building.

The strategic thinking of active defense was created by revolutionaries like Mao Zedong during the Chinese revolutionary war, with Marxism as guidance, raised the general principle of active defense to a strategic level, and was applied in the Chinese revolutionary war as a strategic guidance. It emphasizes that the nature of our military strategy is defensive, but also active in requirements. It requires the organic integration of offense and defense, and achieving the strategic goal of defense by active offense; when the condition is ripe, the strategic defense should be led to counter attack and offense.

Senior Colonel Wang Naiming is a member of the Strategy Department, Academy of Military Science, Beijing.

In the revolutionary war times, revolutionaries represented by Mao Zedong resolutely opposed the wrong line of passive defense, and adhered to the strategic policy of active defense, and led the revolutionary war from victory to victory. After the founding of new China, the strategic policy of active defense again played an important guiding role in the war to resist the United States and assist Korea, in the self-defense fight on the border, as well as in the national defense construction, opposing hegemonism and in the struggle to maintain world peace.

In the new historical period, we should still adhere to the strategic policy of active defense, and this is because the policy reflects the objective law of war, and is the most vital essence of Marxist military theory and Mao Zedong's military thought, and it still plays a positive role of guidance in real life military struggle.

Peace and Self-reliance

The strategic policy of active defense is a component part of the national security strategy and must be subordinated to and serve the overall strategy of the country. Deng Xiaoping has said, "China's policy is never to seek hegemony. Our foreign policy goal is to strive for world peace. On the premise of that, we should concentrate on the modernization drive, develop our country, and build socialism with Chinese characteristics." The socialist China has shown the world that China is opposed to hegemonism and power politics and is the staunch force for the maintenance of world peace. The military strategy of China is defensive and not offensive, is self-defensive in nature and not expansionist, and is consistent with the socialist nature of our country and with our peaceful foreign policy.

A Scientific and Stable Defense

"The most effective defense is still achieved by offense" (Military Works of Marx and Engels, volume 4, 327). Mao Zedong once explicitly pointed out that, "Only the active defense is the real defense, and is the defense for the counter attack and offense." Deng Xiaoping has also said, the active defense is not just simple defense, it has offense in it. The integration of defense and offense reflects the developing law of war itself.

The Inferior Force Confronts a Superior Enemy Force

We are still in the initial stage of socialism. The 15 years of reform and opening has increased our GNP many folds, and strengthened our national power, but has not fundamentally changed the relative backwardness of our economy and culture. For a relatively long time, our country will not have a large amount of funds for the modernization of our army. The speed of our army's modernization will still be lower than those of the developed countries and regions. The weaponry of our armed forces will still be in an inferior condition, and this situation will probably continue for several decades. Under the circumstances, our armed forces must adhere to the strategic thought of winning against a strong force with a weak one, and winning against a superior force with an inferior one. Even when our country is developed in the future, we should still adhere to the strategic policy of active defense.

World Peace and Development

The current world has witnessed the end of cold war, and the international structure is developing in the direction of multipolarity. Major powers of the world are focusing on strengthening their comprehensive national power and adjusting strategies; they have reduced their armed forces and improved quality, in order to gain initiative in the 21st-century world arena. We are also developing our productive forces to increase our comprehensive national power. This has been the trend in the world. The strategic policy of active defense emphasizes the principle of self-defense, and aims at peace and stability. It is not only conducive to the national construction in China, but also conducive to world peace and development.

Requirements of the Modern War of Technology

The local wars of today have changed from using conventional weapons to using high-tech weapons. The high-tech local wars have caused drastic changes in the forms of war and methods of combat. It requires that the armed forces be of high quality, the combat plan to anticipate for all eventualities, war material structure and arrangement be reasonable, battlefield construction be prepared in advance, fast reaction capability of the army be improved, and the command and control method be steady. The strategic thinking of active defense stresses that strategic guidance should be in a planned way, have the initiative, and be flexible, and it stresses active and not passive military action, and this fully meets the requirements of modern warfare.

As compared with the past, the strategic policy of active defense in the new period contains many new contents.

To be suited to the local wars of modern technology and especially high technology, we should follow the basic active defense strategy and strategic guidance formulated by Deng Xiaoping, actively study the characteristics and regular patterns of high-tech local wars, and seek appropriate measures to deal with it. For example, how to fight the people's warfare well under modern conditions? How to gain control of the air and command of the sea at crucial moment at certain areas, and gain initiative and avoid being in a passive position? How to deal with enemy's strike from afar, and how to deal with surgical strike? How to carry out rapid mobilization in certain localities? How to protect the important strategic direction and resist the enemy's strategic air strike? How to do a good job in combat material storage, and structural adjustment to ensure the winning of the local war? How to work out the modernization of the command system of the armed forces, and ensure a steady, timely, confidential and continuous command? How to work out a good integration of fight and deterrence, offense and defense, and use forces flexibly and in a timely fashion? How to take the initiative in our hands, and contain the escalation of the war, and be reasonable, advantageous and appropriate? And how to establish a theoretical system for the high-tech local wars, etc.? We should pay attention to the study of these questions.

The most important thing in carrying out the strategic policy of active defense is to practice people's warfare under modern conditions. The current people's warfare is different from the people's warfare of the past, the equipment and means are different now. When conditions change, the forms that people's warfare take will be different.

The people's warfare should be suited to the development of modern conditions. We must be clearly aware that the rapid development in modern productive force and science and technology and their wide application in the military area surely will have an important effect on the people's warfare under modern conditions. Since the end of the Second World War, there has been no new world wars, but local wars have occurred one after another and have become the basic norms of war; the means of war have been changed from conventional to high-tech weapons, and forms and methods of war have also changed. This new situation requires us to carefully study the people's warfare under modern conditions, in order to meet the challenges of the future military struggle.

Under modern conditions, the practice of the people's warfare means the direct preparedness against war, but it also means the enduring construction of national defense. It involves the Party, the government, the military and the civilian, and involves political, economic, scientific and technological, military, diplomatic, educational and cultural and other areas. The strength of a nation's defense is not simply determined by its armed forces, but is determined by the comprehensive national power that is the foundation for supporting the armed forces and preparedness against war. So the mobilization of the whole nation to be concerned about the national defense, to link our work with the revitalization of the nation, and with the national security and development is an important manifestation of the practice and development of the idea of people's warfare under modern conditions.

For the people's warfare under modern conditions, we should pay attention to improving weapons and military skills, and focus on the research and making weapons suited to the people's warfare under modern conditions, including the minimizing of high tech weaponry and reducing the carrying weight for the single soldier. As weapons are imported, we should at the same time train modern military talents and improve the quality of the personnel. Then we will be able to improve our equipment and make the people's warfare more forceful.

The people's army is the backbone force for the people's warfare under modern conditions. Since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Party Central Committee, Deng Xiaoping has led the army in carrying out a series of important reforms. He stressed that army building should be subordinated to and serve the overall situation of national economic construction, the goals of army building in the new era should be realized in steps and phases. He led the reform of the structures of the army and reduced one million servicemen, and formed the combined army corps. Our army has taken a big step on the road to better troops and high efficiency.

The integration of field army, local army, and militia will be the basic organization form for the people's warfare under modern conditions. To improve the structure of the armed forces for the people's warfare under modern conditions, Deng Xiaoping made reforms and adjustments in the national defense reserve force. He reinstated the reserve system. The building of the militia has carried out the policy of limiting numbers, improving quality, focusing on the key units, and laying a good foundation, and has entered a new phase of development.

The integration of defense and commerical industry during both war and peacetime in the construction of national defense is an important item of practicing the idea of people's warfare in the new era. According to the instruction by Deng Xiaoping that the defense industry should be incorporated into the state plan, an important decision was made in July 1986 that the defense industry be incorporated into the national economic system, and the defense industry and defense science and technology should be converted to commercial production after meeting the requirements of the military. The defense projects and people's air defense projects throughout the country have started to serve the national economic construction, and these are beneficial to the country and to the people, and have created fine conditions for the people's warfare under modern conditions.

We should carry out long and lasting national defense education among the whole nation to lay a solid social foundation for the people's warfare under modern conditions. The strength of the people's warfare lies in the millions of the masses of people. Only with the people's concern, support and participation, can the idea of people's war be realized. During the peace time when our central task is focused on economic construction, it is important to carry out long and lasting national defense education among the whole nation, so as to arouse people's high political enthusiasm, inspire national spirit, and increase the cohesiveness of the nation.


Colonel Fang Ning

We have formed a national defense policy of maintaining peace and self-defense by the whole nation in the new historical era. I believe that the essential substance of our national defense policy in the new period can be summed up as follows.

Defending Sovereignty and Ocean Rights and Safeguarding National Security

Part of the essential substance of the national defense policy is to clearly define the basic aims of the national defense. As a socialist country, we have consistently opposed aggression and expansion. The aim of our national defense is to defend our national territorial sovereignty and ocean rights, and safeguard our national security and development. The territory of a country is a natural material condition for the survival and development of a country. It includes territorial land, air space, and waters, as well as all living things, treasures, and resources underground and in the ocean, and they brook no intruding and violation by foreign forces. Sovereignty is the fundamental symbol of a country, and is the ultimate power a country wields to independently handle its domestic and foreign affairs. Sovereignty includes domestic and foreign aspects, and the two are interdependent and can not be separated. Without sovereignty, there would be no independence and honor of the country, and there would be no political system and social criterion to speak of. Looking at the relationship between the territory and sovereignty, we see unity in defending the national sovereignty and defending the national territory. Only when a nation is able to exercise sovereignty over the territory, can it call the space its territory. The integrity and unification of a nation's territory are also symbols of independence and dignity of sovereignty. When one's territory is invaded, it means the loss of sovereignty. When one's sovereignty is intruded, its territorial integrity is also difficult to ensure. Therefore, the safeguarding of national territory means the safeguarding of national sovereignty at the same time.

The exercise of national sovereignty is not limited to the territory. For example, national ocean rights are not limited to territorial waters. According to "The Territorial Waters and Adjacent Areas Law of the People's Republic of China," we not only have sovereignty over territorial waters, but also exercise control rights over the adjacent areas. The law stipulates, "The areas immediately adjacent to the territorial waters are the adjacent areas of the People's Republic China. The width of the adjacent area is twelve nautical miles. . . . In order to prevent and punish those acts that violate the security, customs, financial, health or entry and exit laws and regulations on the territorial land, inland waters or territorial waters, the People's Republic of China is entitled to exercise control rights over the adjacent areas." At the same time, according the "United Nations Law of the Sea Convention" of April 1982, we have 200 nautical miles of special economic zone, as well as two million square kilometers of offshore continental shelf. We have corresponding rights over these sea areas. These rights exceed the scope of the territorial waters, but according to the international law of the sea, they still belong to the just rights of a country. Therefore, they are within the scope of national defense.

The purpose of national defense is not restricted just to the defending of the national territorial sovereignty and ocean rights. The highest criterion of national defense activities is the safeguarding of national interests as a whole. The essential components of national interests are security interests and development interests:

Realization of a Modern National Defense

The aim of our national defense construction involves those areas related to the national defense, like the military, politics, economy, science and technology, education, and law. The aim of national defense is an important component part of the general aim of our national construction, and should be subordinated to the general aim of national construction.

Our constitution stipulates, "We should gradually realize the modernizations for the industry, agriculture, national defense and science and technology." In order to safeguard the national security and development, China must have a modernized national defense. At present, the chief contradiction that our defense construction faces is between the objective requirements of modern warfare and the relative low level of modernization of our national defense. Resolving this contradiction will be the central task for our national defense construction. The modernization of national defense is a developing and comprehensive concept; it has different meanings at different periods of time, and has different standards. Currently, it has the following features:

The modernization of our national defense can not be separated from the central task of economic development but should be gradually realized on the basis of the continuous development of the national economy. The economic construction is the central task, and the army is required to give active support for the national economic construction, and to take moves under the overall situation of economic construction. At the same time, the modernization of national defense is incorporated into the national modernization drive, and the Party, the Government, and people of all walks of life should be concerned about and support the modernization of our national defense.

A Highly Trained Standing Army with a Large and Strong Reserve Force

The armed forces are the backbone of the national defense, and the structure of the armed forces is the key to the construction of a national defense. A standing army is an active military unit a sovereign country must maintain in peacetime, and it can carry out combat mission at any time. It is an important component part of the political power and is the main body and backbone of the armed forces. Strengthening standing army building is an important guarantee for strengthening national defense forces, and for containing and winning war. It is a necessary requirement for safeguarding national interests and is also a strong pillar for the maintenance of domestic stability. But the size of the army should be properly controlled in peacetime. We should build a small but highly trained standing army; our national strength would not be able to support a large standing army, and it is not necessary anyway.

The building of a small but highly trained standing army must include the following points: First, the direction for the development of the standing army construction should be correctly set. On the condition that safeguarding national interests and national security is ensured, the size of the standing army should be appropriate. Second, we should improve the structure of establishment for army units, and this becomes even more important when our weaponry is relatively backward compared to that of developed countries. Through scientific arrangement and combination, we should put the manpower and weaponry into better and closer formation, and combine the different armed services. The capability of coordinated action of our armed forces should be improved. Third, according to the conditions in our country and the requirements of future warfare, we should renew our weaponry and at the same time pay attention to developing our own advanced products, making a few effective weapons. We should attach importance to the comprehensive make up of the weaponry, as well as the fighting capability of weaponry in all fields and full process. We should adhere to the policy of doing more research, but producing less. The army should gradually be equipped with relatively advanced weaponry, but old and new weaponry should both have a place in the army. Fourth, the requirements of the modern warfare should be taken as the departure point, and there should be continuous reform in the training. The training should have focus, and the degree of intensity and difficulty should be maintained at a high level. We should try to have training in conditions similar to actual combat situations. At the same time, we should pay special attention to the education and training by military academies and schools, and special talents of different kinds should be trained to meet the requirements of modern warfare.

While building a small but highly trained standing army, we should also greatly strengthen the construction of a reserve force. This will be a necessary condition for winning future wars and is also an important measure to strengthen the national armed forces. The reserve forces are mainly composed of militiamen and various reserve services and are the basis for the expansion of the army during war time. They will have great significance in the process and results of the war. A country with only a standing army but without a strong reserve force, cannot be said to have a complete national defense, or a strong national defense. Therefore, we must attach great importance to the role played by the reserve forces. While strengthening the building of the standing army, we should build a high-quality, quickly mobilizing, strong reserve force with a sufficient number of people. The standing army and the reserve force should be planned in coordination. The leading organization, personnel arrangement, weapons and equipment, education and training, and supporting supplies should be scientifically arranged, so that the two are both properly provided for and can assist and complement each other, and can develop according to the requirements.

Self-Reliance and Independence

Independence and self-reliance were the weapons we used to win the revolutionary war and are the essential experiences we have in our socialist construction. They reflect the fundamental interests of the Chinese people, our unremitting efforts to improve ourselves, and our desire to stand among the nations of the world.

Through independence and taking the initiative in our own hands we mean to make decisions on the goals, focal points, steps, and measures of national defense construction according to the actual conditions of our country and to strive to achieve the goals of defense modernization based on the reality. We will not rely on any big power, or group of powers, nor will we form any alliances with any big powers or submit to pressure from any big power. Through self-reliance we mean to base our national modernization drive on our own strength and seek development and modernization mainly through our own efforts.

Ours is a large country with long borders and coastlines, vast seas and air space, and complicated geographic conditions. We need to build a strong defense system that can effectively maintain our national security. This would not be possible by relying on a third country, or through spending a lot of money. Developed countries do not really want to see us with a strong national defense and will restrict and block us on the advanced military technology and equipment. At the same time, to put national defense in other's hands would harm our national sovereignty and would in a sense reduce or even lose the meaning of national defense.

It is of great significance to insist on independence and self-reliance in the process of national defense modernization. First, we will be able to take the initiative in our own hands in the construction of national defense, and avoid being controlled by others. Second, we can increase the cost effectiveness in the construction of national defense and do more work with less money. Third, we shall facilitate the development of our national economy and science and technology, and that will be conducive to enhancing comprehensive national power. Fourth, it will enhance our sense of national pride and confidence. But, self-reliance and independence does not mean adopting a closed-door policy and working on our modernization construction with our door closed to outside world. While we adhere to the policy of independence, we must also stick to the opening policy and actively introduce advanced foreign technology and ideas. We should draw successful experiences from abroad with goals, focuses, and in a planned way. In the area of defense related science and technology, we shall seek appropriate foreign assistance in the light of our needs and possibilities, importing some advanced technology and equipment to make up our deficiencies. By doing so, we will raise the starting point of our national defense construction, avoid some detours and shorten the process of our national defense modernization.

Linking Defense with Commercial Industry

When we say that we shall link defense with commercial industry, during war and peacetime, we mean that during our normal time of national construction we should have a long-term point of view. We should take into consideration future requirements of warfare, and make appropriate arrangements. Military requirements and civilian needs, during war and peace, should be considered and planned in coordination. Our defense construction should be combined with our national construction as a whole.

Defense requirements during war are quite different from peacetime needs. Normally we need to maintain a certain level of defense production, but we must not overproduce military products. This will require an appropriate transfer of defense production into the commercial sector during peacetime. Meanwhile, to solve the contradiction between the defense construction and national economic construction, and to solve the problem of an inadequate defense budget, our national economic construction should also take into consideration our national defense needs. In terms of efficiency, this will bring about better defense cost effectiveness with less spending. Judging from the actual situation, it seems feasible to carry out the policy of linking the military with the civilian and linking the normal time with the war time. The convertibility of science and technology for both defense and commercial use has laid the foundation for linking the two. Other developed countries also stress this linkage. They may have different models, but they all try to combine the defense industry with economic construction, and in doing so, they promote the development of defense construction and push the national economy at the same time.

With regard to the leadership structure of the national defense, it is preferable as much as possible to put as much as possible defense leadership within the leadership structure of government departments, different regions, different professions, and every front of endeavor during peacetime. By doing so, it will be good for management of defense construction in peacetime and help us cope with emergencies and limited wars.

On the point of scientific research and production of national defense, the defense industry should actively join in the national economic construction, and give appropriate consideration to the development of commercial products. Defense science and technology should be given full play, thereby bringing along commercial technology. On the other hand, those defense industries that have been converted to commercial production should reserve the capability to produce military products. The overall distribution of the national industry should also take into consideration the requirement of war, and appropriate measures should be taken, so that in the event of need there will be timely changes. With concern for both the defense and commercial industry, which must support each other, the army is embodied in the people, and both military and economic efficiency is achieved.

The reserve force, which has as its base militiamen and reserve personnel dispersed in every field of economic construction, is the backbone of the production force and should receive full consideration as a vital force. At the same time, the leadership should be strengthened and organized perfectly, and the military and political qualities of the reserve force improved, so as to meet the requirements of the modern warfare.

On the point of military economy work, the military economy should be incorporated into the national economy as much as possible. We should fully utilize the military supply capability of the national economy. Special military materials are mainly supplied according to the national plan, while general materials for both defense and commercial use should rely on market supply, and daily necessities and services should rely on society. The idea that the army is a self-contained society should gradually be changed.

The training of personnel, the export of military products, transportation preparedness, etc. are all important aspects of the policy of linking defense and commercial industry. It should be specially emphasized that we should through national legislation and planning and control, try to combine defense construction with the infrastructure construction in the economy as much as possible. In our infrastructure construction of railways, highways, airports, port facilities, and communication facilities, we should take national defense requirements into consideration.

The Strategy of Active Defense

The strategic thought of active defense is an important part of Mao Zedong's military thought and is the summation of the experience of our Party and our army's long-time struggle.

The adoption of the strategy of active defense is determined by the nature of our country and by our basic national policy. The purpose of our national defense is to resist foreign aggression and is self-defensive in nature. Therefore, we should adopt such a strategy.

In the new historical era, we are facing a lot of new situations and problems when adopting the military strategy of active defense. First of all, the purpose of war has been changed. Our army fought to seize political power before the founding of new China, but after that, we fought to defend political power. We will be required to defend cities and more places in future anti-aggression wars. Second, combat conditions have changed. As there is progress in science and technology, and development in weaponry, combat conditions are daily becoming more complicated. The fighting space is not only expanded on the ground, but also expanded in the air and space and on and under water. Third, combat is taking different forms. In the past, our army was used to changes and a combination of mobile warfare, positional warfare, and guerrilla warfare. In future wars, we shall choose main combat forms with flexibility and in accordance with new situations. We shall continue to use ingenious combinations of different forms of combat.

Under the new historical conditions, in order to carry out the military strategy of active defense, we need to make accurate judgments on the threat of war. We should be concerned about any realistic threat against our national territorial integrity, but should not overlook any long-term threat against our national security. We should be prepared for defensive wars, in light of the characteristics and requirements of local wars of high technology. We should adhere to the principle of gaining mastery by striking only after the enemy has struck. We should not provoke a war and should not resort to force rashly. When we are forced to use force, we should be good at seizing the opportunity to fight and controlling the fighting scale as well as the scope, trying not to let the war escalate. Our strategy of active defense emphasizes the use of various combat forms and methods flexibly to achieve our strategic goal. In future wars, as there will be more diversified combat targets, combat scales, and means and forms; also, future wars will be more sudden, faster, and more intense, and we should be able to respond quickly and effectively in light of the differences in timing, space, opponents, and challenges.

Adhere to People's Warfare under Modern Conditions

People's warfare is mobilized and carried out by the broad masses of people in order to seek the liberation of the broad masses of people and to resist foreign aggression. People's warfare is the weapon that we have used to fight against domestic and foreign enemies, and to win the war.

Because of the rapid development of science and technology, and especially of high technology and its wide application militarily, there have been many new changes and new characteristics in modern wars. But these changes and characteristics have in no way reduced the role and function of people's warfare in future anti-aggression wars. At the same time, the future people's warfare must also adapt to the characteristics of modern wars, which have the following main features:

Safeguard Peace and Oppose Hegemonism

China pursues a foreign policy of peace and has all along adhered to developing relations with other countries on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence. We do not seek a sphere of influence in any place in the world, and we do not want an inch of land from another country. In the future, when our economy is developed, our country has become strong, and our national defense force strengthened, we shall still resolutely not practice hegemonism and power politics. At the same time, we shall oppose anyone who practices hegemonism, including regional hegemonism. China has always maintained that all countries in the world, no matter whether they are large or small, rich or poor, strong or weak, should be equal in international affairs. We are firmly opposed to the big bullying the small, the rich oppressing the poor, and the strong humiliating the weak.

In the new era, our national defense will continue to regard safeguarding peace as an obligation. We are opposed to the arms race and the expansion of the arms race into the outer space. We stand for the nuclear disarmament, for reducing conventional arms, and the destruction of chemical weapons. We are opposed to the spreading of nuclear weapons to nonnuclear countries. In order to safeguard peace, we have been working hard to use peaceful means to solve international disputes that involves our country, and are against resorting to force rashly.

But, safeguarding peace must have a strong national defense force to back it. The national defense will only be able to prevent aggression when it has the capability to resist aggression. Through the analysis of our national defense policy, we may summarize it as follows: safeguarding national interests, maintaining peace, following the idea of people's warfare, practicing the military strategy of active defense, adhering to the road of independence and self-reliance, carrying out the policy of linking defense and commerical industry during war and peace, and gradually realizing the modernization of national defense.

| Return to Top | Return to Contents | Next Part |

Return to NDU Homepage
INSS Homepage
What's New