In This Issue
Vol. 26 Issue 36
Disengagement: An Introduction
The Critical Task of Disengaging from the Chinese Communist Party, Its Government, and Its Business Model
- The Nature of the Threat
- The Pattern Repeats
This week’s Global Report introduces a new series, DISENGAGEMENT, which will be released in chapters over the coming year. Stay tuned for Chapter 1, on defending the global economy, coming in October.
“Excessive dealings with tyrants are not good for the security of free states.”
In the past two decades, the world has reached a turning point. The 20th century was defined by a series of conventional wars that led to the defeat of Hitler’s Germany and the onset of the Pax Americana. As we entered the 21st century, the rise of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as a major economic force began to shift the global balance of power just as rapid technological advances began to shift the meaning of power itself.
No one was more aware of this shifting dynamic than the leaders of China’s Communist Party.
The party’s deeper sense of long-term planning allowed it to deftly engineer a series of circumstances that contributed to the government’s increasing ability to control others, both domestically and internationally. Party leadership used the early 2000s to lay the groundwork for an era in which the decisions of an unsavory few in Beijing were newly and eminently relevant around the world From the hacking of the world’s digital and data storage infrastructure to the creation of the greatest surveillance state ever known, from the extension of debt-trap “Belt and Road” projects to the promotion of United Front activities worldwide that built soft power and corrupted foreign government entities in the interests of the CCP, all efforts are geared toward this goal.
The modern perspective of the PRC is well encompassed in a People’s Liberation Army tome from the late 1990s titled Unrestricted Warfare. The authors state that:
War in the age of technological integration and globalization has eliminated the right of weapons to label war and, with regard to the new starting point, has realigned the relationship of weapons to war, while the appearance of weapons of new concepts, and particularly new concepts of weapons, has gradually blurred the face of war. Does a single “hacker” attack count as a hostile act or not? Can using financial instruments to destroy a country’s economy be seen as a battle? Did CNN’s broadcast of an exposed corpse of a U.S. soldier in the streets of Mogadishu shake the determination of the Americans to act as the world’s policeman, thereby altering the world’s strategic situation? And should an assessment of wartime actions look at the means or the results? Obviously, proceeding with the traditional definition of war in mind, there is no longer any way to answer the above questions.
This is shrewd nationalist / realist policy. Avoiding bloodshed while winning a conflict is in the interests of any expansionist state. What the PRC government says about its intentions is regularly belied by its actions on multiple fronts of hybrid warfare, from cyber to the invasion of the territory of its neighbors to the corruption of foreign states using the principles of classic human intelligence work. (The acronym MICE neatly encompasses the ways individuals can be compromised: money, ideology, compromise, and ego.)
So we should not be surprised that Unrestricted Warfare was lauded in China, that the officers who wrote it were promoted, and that the following quote also sounds like a blueprint for current PRC actions:
“When we suddenly realize that all these non-war actions may be the new factors constituting future warfare, we have to come up with a new name for this new form of war: Warfare which transcends all boundaries and limits, in short: unrestricted warfare.”
In the coming months, I will outline the ways that unrestricted warfare, both intentional and circumstantial, define the methodology for the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party to achieve Xi Jinping’s underlying goals of fajia (the absolute power and authority of the ruler) and tianxia (the ruling by the Chinese state of “all under heaven”). Indeed, Xi Jinping has vowed that by 2049 (100 years after the founding of the CCP), China will “become a global leader in terms of composite national strength and international influence.”