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The People's Republic of China has often used force in ways that surprised and perplexed other countries. The Chinese appear to believe that, by carefully designing military operations to achieve maximum political effect, they can successfully use force even when the overall military balace is unfavorable. China's past successes in using force in this way while avoiding a massive reaction from its adversaries may give it confidence that it can succeed in the future as well.
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China is emerging as a major global and regional player that willimpact U.S. foreign policy well into the 21st century. A betterunderstanding of China's interests as well as economic and militarycapabilities will assist in crisis prevention and war avoidance.This study examines the characteristic ways in which China mightuse force to protect or advance its interests. It looks at the record ofChinese use of force during the past 50 years, as well as at Chinesedoctrinal writings concerning future conflict to understand whatparticular characteristics future Chinese uses of force might beexpected to display.This research was conducted within the Strategy and DoctrineProgram of Project AIR FORCE, as part of a larger project entitled"Chinese Defense Modernization and the USAF," under the sponsor-shipof the Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations(AF/XO), and the Commander, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF/CC).Comments are welcomed and may be addressed to the projectleader, Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, or to the authors.PROJECT AIR FORCEProject AIR FORCE, a division of RAND, is the Air Force federallyfunded research and development center (FFRDC) for studies andanalyses. It provides the Air Force with independent analyses ofpolicy alternatives affecting the development, employment, combatreadiness, and support of current and future aerospace forces.Research is performed in four programs: Aerospace Force Development; Manpower, Personnel, and Training; Resource Management;and Strategy and Doctrine.About the Author:
Mark Burles (MA, International Relations, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Washington, D.C.) is a senior research assistant at Rand.
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