Since the end of the Cold War, China has embarked on a comprehensive military modernization program to prepare the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for the possibility of modern great-power warfare. This effort was catalyzed by Beijing’s shock over the collapse of the Soviet Union and the lopsided U.S. victory over Iraq in the first Gulf War. Beijing is preparing for a high-tech war, leveraging information technology, artificial intelligence, and possibly, biotechnology to gain advantages in future conflict. The PLA trains for war over Taiwan, against India, and against potential enemies on the Korean peninsula and in the South and East China Seas. While Beijing has not yet decided to use force to further its strategic objectives, coercion and possible escalation to full-scale conflict are key pillars of its grand strategy, driving its technological modernization strategy and increasingly, its economic statecraft.

Warfare is not foreign to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Indeed, it is deeply embedded in its historical DNA. The CCP came to power in a violent struggle against the KMT and the Japanese who had invaded the mainland.  After prevailing in the Chinese Civil War, the CCP waged war against U.S. and allied forces in the Korean War, supported the North Vietnamese in their war against the U.S., fought a series of battles against India, invaded Vietnam to prevent unification, and has used violent coercion against its Southeast Asian neighbors to further its territorial ambitions.

Led by Asia Studies expert and former Defense official Dan Blumenthal, this seminar will examine China’s past and current use of force in the context of its strategic culture and traditions, and study the CCP’s military campaigns against its neighbors. Fellows will examine China’s modern military history and current planning to assess the threat of a Taiwan invasion, the CCP’s plans for future warfare, and the possibility of hot war between China and the U.S.

Image: J-11B fighter jet conducts tactical maneuver, Chinese People’s Liberation Army

Dan Blumenthal & H.R. McMaster on the China Nightmare


Dan Blumenthal

Daniel Blumenthal is the Director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on East Asian security issues and Sino-American relations. Mr. Blumenthal has both served in and advised the U.S. government on China issues for over a decade.

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