The People’s Republic of China: What Can the UK and its Allies Learn from Competitors and Rising Powers? by Dr Samantha Hoffman

The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) development of military power is guided by the clearly defined strategic objective that the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) position in power be protected. The objective is described in the CCP’s rhetoric as ensuring “state security”. To maintain state security requires a constant consolidation and expansion of the CCP’s power. The CCP’s processes for modernising the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are never detached from this political objective. An important lens for understanding how the PRC turns a strategic concept into actual capabilities is the “People’s War” concept, which is a concept describing a form of mass mobilization. This Maoist political-military strategy is applied in the present-day through the Party-state leadership’s construction of a national defence mobilisation (国防动员) mechanism, which relies on military-civil fusion. The United Kingdom cannot replicate China’s approach because the UK is not guided by the CCP’s Leninist ideology. Instead, understanding the Chinese approach can inform better decision-making and development of long-term strategies for managing relations with China.

Dr Hoffman is Visiting Academic Fellow at the Mercator Institute for China Studies and Non-Resident Fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Changing Character of War Centre, or of the University of Oxford. © 2018 Changing Character of War Centre. All Rights Reserved. Material in this publication is copyrighted under UK law. Individual authors reserve all rights to their work and material should not be reproduced without their prior permission.