Active Defense: China's Military Strategy since 1949

Active Defense: China's Military Strategy since 1949

by M. Taylor Fravel


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What changes in China’s modern military policy reveal about military organizations and strategy

Since the 1949 Communist Revolution, China has devised nine different military strategies, which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) calls “strategic guidelines.” What accounts for these numerous changes? Active Defense offers the first systematic look at China’s military strategy from the mid-twentieth century to today. Exploring the range and intensity of threats that China has faced, M. Taylor Fravel illuminates the nation’s past and present military goals and how China sought to achieve them, and offers a rich set of cases for deepening the study of change in military organizations.

Drawing from diverse Chinese-language sources, including memoirs of leading generals, military histories, and document collections that have become available only in the last two decades, Fravel shows why transformations in military strategy were pursued at certain times and not others. He focuses on the military strategies adopted in 1956, 1980, and 1993—when the PLA was attempting to wage war in a new kind of way—to show that China has pursued major change in its strategic guidelines when there has been a significant shift in the conduct of warfare in the international system and when China’s Communist Party has been united.

Delving into the security threats China has faced over the last seven decades, Active Defense offers a detailed investigation into how and why states alter their defense policies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691152134
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 04/23/2019
Series: Princeton Studies in International History and Politics , #167
Pages: 396
Sales rank: 323,169
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

M. Taylor Fravel is the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and a member of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Strong Borders, Secure Nation (Princeton). Twitter @fravel

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xi

Abbreviations xv

Introduction 1

1 Explaining Major Change in Military Strategy 9

2 The CCP's Military Strategies before 1949 39

3 The 1956 Strategy: "Defending the Motherland" 72

4 The 1964 Strategy: "Luring the Enemy in Deep" 107

5 The 1980 Strategy: "Active Defense" 139

6 The 1993 Strategy: "Local Wars under High-Technology Conditions" 182

7 China's Military Strategies since 1993: "Informatization" 217

8 China's Nuclear Strategy since 1964 236

Conclusion 270

Notes 279

Bibliography 339

Index 363

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