SSU Forum / Book Launch Event “Xi Jinping’s Military Strategy”

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    Security Studies Unit (SSU), Institute for Future Initiatives

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    Japanese (English simultaneous translation available)

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What does China mean by realizing a “Strong Military Dream” and “Strong Military Goal”? What does China aim to achieve? Why doesn’t the People’s Liberation Army seek to defect from the Chinese Communist Party? This seminar will explore China’s military-strategic goals, economic statecraft, and what China calls the “overall national security concept” under the Xi Jinping administration. It will examine the country’s domestic politics, ideology, and financial resources, which hold the key to the robustness of the party-military relationship under Xi’s leadership. This forum will also assess the possibility of China’s further military expansion—particularly when the country’s economic growth is slowing down—and its implications.


Speaker 1: Ryo ASANO
Professor, Faculty of Law Department of Political Science, Doshisha University

Speaker 2: Takahiro TSUCHIYA
Associate Professor, Business School of Kyoto University of Advanced Science

Discussant: Jaehwan LIM
Professor, Department of International Politics, Aoyama Gakuin University

Moderator: Ryo SAHASHI
Associate Professor, International Relations Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo


*The conference is organized by subsidies from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

On September 22, the Security Studies Unit of the University of Tokyo’s Institute for Future Initiatives invited Professor Ryo Asano (Doshisha University) and Associate Professor Takahiro Tsuchiya (Kyoto University of Advanced Science) to deliver keynote speeches on the military-strategic goals of China’s Xi Jinping regime, its economic statecraft, its view of overall national security, and other concepts. They were joined by Professor Jaehwan Lim (Aoyama Gakuin University) in a discussion following the speeches, after which questions were fielded from the audience. Professor Ryo Sahashi (University of Tokyo) served as the moderator of the forum.


Keynote Speeches


At the beginning of the forum, Prof. Asano explained the background and contents of the new book Xi Jinping’s Military Strategy: Will the “Strong Military Dream” Come True?  (in Japanese) he co-authored with Prof. Tsuchiya. He first gave a summary of the concepts used in the military strategy of the Xi Jinping regime (such as unrestricted warfare, intelligentized warfare, and informatized warfare). Following the book’s structure, Prof. Tsuchiya then explained changes in China’s military strategy since 1945, its state of warfare in the cognitive domains (the party’s leadership, targeting not only the adversary forces, but also the international community as a whole, unrestricted warfare, brain control, and such other concepts), party-military relationship as seen in the personnel, political/ideological, funding/financial, and organizational aspects, and the garrison state thinking (policy of increasing military power amid the slowdown in economic growth). Lastly, it was predicted that the possible outcome of (the military strategy of) a China turning into a garrison state is that with the U.S.-China trade friction having repercussions in many other areas, there will be persistent concerns that this may develop into a military conflict, including small-scale local wars.




Prof. Lim, acting as the discussant, gave his overall assessment of the book, indicating that it is a comprehensive analysis of the changes in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and military strategy in the Xi Jinping era and that it covers broad areas including party-military relationship and the armed forces’ relation with the economy and society. He commented that the book’s focus accurately grasps the “political nature” of China’s military strategy and assesses its impact. Prof. Lim raised the following questions: 1) In relation to the meaning and importance of “intelligentized warfare,” how has the change from “informatized” to “intelligentized” warfare been manifested? 2) What’s new in Xi Jinping’s military strategy? (Are the specific changes related only to change in Xi Jinping’s personal ideology?), 3) Issues relating to the PLA continuing to be the “party’s army” and the possibility that this will actually happen, 4) Did China’s military reforms really strengthen the party-military relationship? 5) How will the concentration of power in the hands of Xi Jinping affect military reforms? (Will this not weaken the party and military organizations?) Profs. Asano and Tsuchiya gave their answers on how Xi controls the military, how Xi’s personal ideology influences Taiwan strategy, and the significance of intelligentized warfare. It was noted that military reforms will not necessarily weaken the military and the party because this is a broad-range undertaking that involves not only Xi’s personal ideology, but also financial and organizational system building.




Subsequently, the floor was open for questions from the audience and many questions were asked. For example, in relation to the concepts in China’s military strategy, there was a query on what is the specific focus of intelligentized warfare. Profs. Asano and Tsuchiya explained that while it is difficult to define intelligentized warfare, in short, this warfare is about the sophistication of informatization, e.g., by applying AI technology. There was also a discussion on observations on the Chinese side’s thinking on the overall national security concept and the recent issue of ALPS treated water.


A question was also asked on the position of a Taiwan contingency in China’s military strategy. Profs. Asano and Tsuchiya noted that China probably regards this as a small-scale local war (since China sees this as an internal affair), but this will depend on highly possible U.S. intervention. In any case, it is fully possible that regardless of timing, China may start a small-scale operation in the form of an anti-terrorist local war. Furthermore, answering a question on space and nuclear weapons, the professors explained that it is possible for space to become a battleground for military hardware. As to nuclear weapons, it is possible that China sees this as a tool to offset the weakness of its conventional force, and it is working on improving its submarines and extending the range of its missiles in order to secure the second-strike capability of its nuclear weapons.


Economic security and how to respond to China were also discussed. To a comment that there is a delay in China’s shift to domestic production of technology due to U.S. pressure, Profs. Asano and Tsuchiya responded that it is possible that China is shifting to domestic production steadily to buy time, and it may move to a flexible foreign policy posture from now on (in order to buy time). Although the U.S. offensive is delaying China’s shift to domestic production in the short-term, China’s development of advanced technology in certain areas is even more advanced than the U.S., and it is taking advantage of this strength to enhance its military power. To a question on how Japan, the U.S., and other democratic states should compete with China, the answer was, there is really no correct answer. It is important to make steady efforts to work for a better Japan and a better international community, and it is also important to come up with quick and effective countermeasures against China’s offensives related to cognitive ability and to consider ways to positively influence the other party.


*This forum was held with a grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Diplomacy and Security Studies Research Project.