"Winning the battle without fighting" : strategic culture and information warfare in the People's Liberation Army of China
Nicholas A. Budak
May 14, 2014
Department or Program
In light of recent developments such as 2013 intrusion into Pentagon networks, this study examines the history and rhetoric surrounding the orientation of the Chinese armed forces towards waging an information-based war. Its goal is to construct a history of the internal doctrinal rhetoric of the People’s Liberation Army -- what were the commanders who would fight a 21st-century information war saying amongst themselves 30 years ago? What are they saying today? With a view to critical conceptions of security as a 'battle for notions' among rhetorical actors, the study attempts to deliver a rhetorical analysis keyed to the most important and influential viewpoints and actors in the debate over information warfare. In pursuing these goals, it distinguishes itself from the literature base through its relatively wide historical range as well as its cultural, linguistic, and rhetorical foci. Chinese terms that appear in PLA writing are analysed for their significance and utility vis-a-vis the overall discourse of information warfare, as well as the likelihood that they will drive policy in the future. Ultimately, the study concludes that traditional Chinese strategic writings remain relevant, and will continue to shape and be shaped by real-time security. This cyclical relationship of discourse is increasingly focused on information warfare as an attractively useful and uniquely Chinese offensive capability.