Evolution Of Three Warfares
Chinese are quick learners and they have the will to carry out major reforms in the military field. A good example of this is the recent military reforms announced towards the end of 2015.
This is not the first time that they are bringing major changes in their military. With every generation of leadership, their doctrines have been changing. Mao Zedong believed in drawing the enemy deep inside own territory and then annihilate him when the adversay’s support lines are over stretched.
He also gave the concept of Active Defence that implied it is not necessary to wait till the enemy launches an offensive on oneself. Enemy’s offensive can be pre-empted by own actions such as striking the enemy first.
Deng Xiaoping changed the doctrine and brought in the concept of limited wars. He also propagated that wars should be fought closer to the boundary and not deep inside own territory.
Post the 1991 Gulf War, Jiang Zemin presided over the doctrinal change to fighting Limited Wars under Hi Tech Conditions. This brought in Revolution in Military Affairs in the Chinses Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). This is also the period in which China realised that her armed forces have to transform themselves if they have to fight and win modern wars.
In the aftermath of the second Gulf War that was fought during the early stages of Hu Jintao’s tenure China observed keenly the way United States of America orchestrated that war from Continental United States that was thousands of kilometres away. She realised that even with mechanisation, that was underway at that time in the PLA, she did not have adequate capability to win the modern wars.
Therefore the doctrine was changed to fighting Local Wars under Conditions of Informationisation. Because of this the PLA started carrying out mechanisation and informationisation in a parallel manner. During the cusp period between Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao’s tenures a concept of Three Warfare came into existence. This was born out of a realisation that China has to try something asymmetric if she wanted win modern wars.
The thought process for Three Warfares is also deeply rooted in Sun Zi’s teachings. Sun Zi wrote the Art of War in 5th Century BC, which has been followed by generations of dynasties in China.
He is the Chinese equivalent of India’s own Kautilya. Sun Zi said, “to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill”.
Three Warfares aims to do that. The Three Warfares concept appears in Chapter 2, Section 18 of the ‘Chinese People’s Liberation Army Political Work Regulations’ that the Central Military Commission of China approved and promulgated on 05 December 2003.
Three Warfares is a way of building non kinetic and asymmetric capabilities. This concept is applicable not only to the military field but also to the strategic and diplomatic fields as well. What then, are the Three Warfares?
They are psychological, public opinion (Media) and Legal Warfares.
In a four part series, it is proposed to look at each one of them in detail. In this first part, it is endeavoured to define each of these three warfares.
Science of Military Strategy brought out by Academy of Military Sciences of China in 2013 explained the importance of Three Warfares. It postured the Three Warfares as a force multiplier that can be used in military, political and diplomatic operations.
It also enumerated the concept of “huayuquan”(话语权) through the use of information, belief, and mentality (信息一信仰一心智). Huayuquan is the Chinese concept of having a right to exert influence on international affairs.
The implication is that the Three Warfares should be complementary to each other and mutually reinforce one another in all future wars or in any political and diplomatic context.
The National defence University of China brought out a teaching material in 2014 which explains the Three Warfares’ main missions, their development process, basic theory and principles, method of implementation, and tactics that are to be followed.
It says that the primary purpose of the three warfares is to target the adversary’s mind and influence it so that the adversary behaves in a manner favourable to China.
The Three Warfares concept is seen as very important to increasing the PLA’s “soft power” (软实力) and a major contributor to its success in all future wars. As China moved towards the concept of fighting Local Wars under Conditions of Informationisation, (信息 化), the three warfares gained in importance not only in its military connotation but also in national strategy.
In 2004, Hu Jintao mentioned the importance of Military Operations Other than War (MOOTW). Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions, evacuation of people from conflict zones and international peace keeping fall into this category. As China’s role in the International Community increases, she is more likely to get involved in such operations. The Three Warfares concept helps to further project China’s Soft Power when she carries out such operations.
Psychological warfare efforts seek to disrupt an opponent’s decision-making capacity. It aims to create doubts in the minds of the people of China’s adversary, gradually nurture sentiments against the leadership of her adversary in the people’s minds and try to reduce the latter’s will to enter into a conflict. The methodology to achieve the desired effects from such operations may include proactive economic measures to curb the economic growth and use of diplomacy to isolate China’s adversary etc.
While China desires to achieve the goal of winning without fighting by carrying out psychological operations, legal and media warfare give her the effective tools to achieve her aim. Legal Warfare is also known as ‘lawfare’. It plays a very important role in the triumvirate of warfare. Using this, China creates a legal base to justify her positions and claims.
Media Warfare, as the name suggests, employs all the sources of media to convey the psychological themes that have been strengthened by the legal warfare instruments to the target audience.
To be effective, all the three warfares are being constantly launched on China’s adversaries at all times (during peace and war). Therefore, it is in our interest that, we take note of this strategy by China and devise countermeasures for the same.