Waking up to China's unrestricted warfare

Most people are aware of China's cyber war against America and allied countries. However, most people are not aware that these cyber attacks might not be an isolated strategy, but instead, might be just one component of a broader range of covert (or non-military) attacks, which are all part of the Chinese doctrine of Unrestricted Warfare.

So far, the rest of this doctrine has been largely theoretical or unnoticed. But since China's stock market crash, and a cluster of events surrounding the Tianjin explosion, there are signs that we might have had a bigger taste of China's unrestricted warfare. But before we get to that speculation, this post will just be a short introduction to the doctrine of unrestricted warfare.

Recent cyberattacks could be part of a Chinese military strategy started nearly 20 years ago:

"... in 1999, Generals Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui authored a book called “Unrestricted Warfare,” detailing a concept they describe as “warfare which transcends all boundaries and limits.” The gist was that innovative thinking could give China the edge over a US concetrated on developing newer and more complicated machines:

Unrestricted Warfare: China's Master Plan to Destroy America (PDF)
Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, 1999

As we see it, a single man-made stock-market crash, a single computer virus invasion, or a single rumor or scandal that results in a fluctuation in the enemy country’s exchange rates or exposes the leaders of an enemy country on the Internet, all can be included in the ranks of new-concept weapons...

The new concept of weapons will cause ordinary people and military men alike to be greatly astonished at the fact that commonplace things that are close to them can also become weapons with which to engage in war. We believe that some morning people will awake to discover with surprise that quite a few gentle and kind things have begun to have offensive and lethal characteristics...

Such means and methods include psychological warfare (spreading rumors to intimidate the enemy and break down his will); smuggling warfare (throwing markets into confusion and attacking economic order); media warfare (manipulating what people see and hear in order to lead public opinion along); drug warfare (obtaining sudden and huge illicit profits by spreading disaster in other countries); network warfare (venturing out in secret and concealing one’s identity in a type of warfare that is virtually impossible to guard against); technological warfare (creating monopolies by setting standards independently); fabrication warfare (presenting a counterfeit appearance of real strength before the eyes of the enemy); resources warfare (grabbing riches by plundering stores of resources); economic aid warfare (bestowing favor in the open and contriving to control matters in secret); cultural warfare (leading cultural trends along in order to assimilate those with different views); and international law warfare (seizing the earliest opportunity to set up regulations)...
Some of these sound silly. But others, such as “media,” “technological” and “resource warfare,” have a more plausible‚ even familiar, ring to them. Taken alongside the strong likelihood that the systematic cyberattacks have been state-sponsored, it seems not entirely far-fetched that China has been spending nearly two decades planning forms of warfare that the West hasn’t even considered. Welcome to a new world, folks".


Essentially, it's taking the lateral/asymmetric thinking of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, and transcribing it to a modern context whereby a weaker country (China) can subdue a stronger country (America), by attacking its weak spots, in order to degrade, demoralise and eventually destroy it.

Here are some more videos to explain it:

See also China: A Threat Analysis.

File under: Chinese goods are not cheap.

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