The recent bellicosity
in the Chinese press beginning with the war in Kosovo
and continuing in ongoing tension with Taiwan has resulted
in a spate of instant magazines and books on the topic
Professor Zhang Zhaozhong
of the Chinese National Defense University has published
three books this year: Who Will Win the Next War, How
Far is War >From Us, and Who is the Next Target? These
books draw lessons from the Gulf and Kosovo wars about
what future wars will be like. The books mainly focus
on technology, but also contain some interesting ideas
on strategy (for example praising the Serbian tactic
of putting many fake tank shelters along their highways
interspersed with real tank shelters--which Zhang claims
in Who Will Win the Next War is the reason Serbian tank
and other military losses were actually considerably
less than NATO claims). It was Russia's change of position
on Kosovo that finally made the Serbs surrender, concludes
Zhang. Professor Zhang is something of a media star
with all the news reports and instant magazines on local
newsstands about military affairs, confrontation with
Taiwan etc. Despite all the bellicose rhetoric in the
media, Zhang does not see any fighting in the foreseeable
future. "This is an early friction stage, and tension
would have to increase significantly for actual armed
conflict to break out," Zhang says in a recent interview
in the official press.
of Three Recent Books by Professor Zhang Zhaozhong
of the National Defense University
Who Will Win the Next War?
[Shei Hui Ying Xia Yi Zhanzheng?] published by China
Youth Press, March 1999
How Far is War From Us?
[Zhanzheng Li Women You Duoyuan?] published by PLA Publishing
House, July 1999
Who is the Next Target?
[Xia Yige Mubiao Shi Shei?] published by China
Youth Press, September 1999
Overview of Who Will Win the Next War?
This book is by prominent PRC defense analyst Zhang
Zhaozhong. Zhang served for 30 years in the PRC Navy
and is now a professor and director of the Science and
Technology Research Office of the National Defense University.
The book examines the latest weapons technologies as
they were used in December 1998 against Iraq and in
the Gulf War. The greatest threat now comes from the
air, Zhang maintains. He discusses "fire and forget"
missiles, laser weapons, stealth weaponry, and the recent
revival from the ashes of the old Star Wars missile
defense technology. Zhang discusses the lessons of the
six-nation naval semi-annual exercises held around Hawaii
in July-August 1998.
"Peace and stability look to be the main trends in the
early 21st century, so a major war is unlikely and many
of the big countries continue to reduce their armaments
and military budgets, but some military confrontations
are quite possible. How will China face the Pacific
"The Pacific Ocean isn't very pacific: the U.S. depends
on island bases as unsinkable aircraft carriers. How
should China prepare to win the next war? Continued
economic reform is essential to building China's strength.
The 1300-page April 1992 U.S. Department of Defense
final report on the Gulf War gives excellent insights
into U.S. military thinking and strategy. The increasing
stress on high technology weaponry is clear. The U.S
is building the information military of the 21st century,
and using reorganization to boost effectiveness.
"China should move from concentrating on quantity to
concentrating on quality of weaponry. Government decision-makers
and technical advisory departments should be kept distinct
in order to avoid conflicts of interest. Military authority
should not be divided by service but rather all military
elements in a certain region should be under a unified
command. This will be especially important in the task
of protecting China's 200 nautical-mile exclusive economic
zone and 350 km continental shelf zone which became
effective when the UN Law of the Sea officially took
effect in 1994. Strengthening military procurement and
merging military and civilian product standards so that
the military can procure from the civilian market is
an important trend of the 1990s."
Overview of How Far is War From Us?
Mostly technical and drawing largely from non-classified
U.S. sources (including Internet sites) such as the
U.S. Department of Defense "Defense Science and Technology
Strategy for 2000-2005" published in 1996, this book
also addresses broader themes such as the information
revolution, the technological wave theories of Alvin
Toffler (The Third Wave), and other information age
theories. Long sections of the book are devoted to the
fundamentals of C4ISR (command, control, communications,
computers, information, monitoring and reconnaissance),
information warfare, the informatization of equipment
such as tanks, ships and aircraft, and finally to issues
of new strategy, new tactics and new ways of organizing
military forces. The foreigner familiar with the English
language literature will find this last section most
interesting. Although this chapter, like others, relies
heavily on foreign literature, the lessons that Zhang
wants China to draw are clear. One specifically Chinese
issue (p. 530) is the advantage of monetarizing military
benefits so that soldiers can arrange for housing and
their children's education on the market rather than
being part of a military subculture separate from society.
Overview of Who is the Next Target?
Themes addressed in Who is the Next Target? include
"Lessons of the Kosovo War." Serbia used decoys effectively
so its tank losses were far less than NATO reported.
Serbia built many fake as well as real tank shelters
along its highways: Zhang argues that in the event of
conflict China should consider similar tactics. Serbia
surrendered not because of the NATO attack but because
of the change of position by Russia on Kosovo.The greatest
difference between the Gulf War and Kosovo were the
causes of the war. The Gulf War was a response to the
invasion of Kuwait. The Kosovo war was a totally unjustified
NATO intervention in the purely internal affairs of
Another chapter addresses the question: "A review of
50 years of NATO: Is it creating a new Cold War?" The
Warsaw Pact dissolved but NATO didn't. France and Germany
have their own ideas and may differ with the U.S. on
important issues in the future. The new "NATO Strategic
Concept for the Twenty-First Century" (p. 47) has troubling
aspects. NATO is changing from a military to a military-political
organization and from focusing on protecting the territorial
integrity of member states to preventing "new threats"
to European security such as terrorism. As NATO expands
eastward who will be its next target?
"As American political scientist Samuel Huntington remarks,
the U.S. is becoming more and more isolated. It is accumulating
more and more enemies. Are the Americans really as wealthy
and powerful as Chinese people think? Then why would
they insult China by attacking its embassy? That was
just another case of acting after their embassies were
blown up in Africa--they went and hit civilian targets
in Sudan and Afghanistan just to show how strong and
how dominant they are. This U.S. hegemonism is all about
constraining other nations, but what force is there
to put constraints on the United States? Will Russia
be able to constrain the U.S. over the next 20 years?
That is not the right question to ask. Ask instead will
Russia be able to avoid a steep decline so that it becomes
just another developing country--and a developing country
that ranks behind China at that? "Will the sleeping
giant Russia awake? The Russia-Belarus alliance left
Yugoslavia out in the cold. The deterioration of the
Russian forces raises the question: can the Russian
military fight? The Russian deployment in Kosovo made
headlines, but the Russians had to depend on the UK
troops for food.
"What is the lesson of Russia? Russia makes us realize
that mutually beneficial relations and coexistence with
the United States, Japan, France and other big countries
are important for all. It is not a matter of one side
begging the other since it must be based on national
interests and on the fundamental importance of developing
our country. It is this that makes relations between
countries move forward. That there are contradictions
and disputes between China and the United States and
other countries is normal. Too close a relationship
or an alliance is abnormal since every country must
always consider its own distinct national interests.
International relations are different from personal
friendships. Although there was a Kosovo War and hegemonism
and power politics are all too widespread in the world,
peace and development are still the mainstream of development
for the 21st century... Yet there are still people in
the West who want to destroy us or divide us so we must
think about our national defense and not just about
peace, development and making money.
"Disagreements on human rights between the U.S. and
China arise from differences in history, culture, level
of development, outlook and social system.
"What wins wars? In the end not the weapons but the
people. Whoever can combine people and technology most
effectively wins. Example: Only 20 percent of the U.S.
guided missiles reached their targets. How did the Yugoslavs
manage this? Scouts on mountaintops saw missile launches
from ships, and relayed the information to the Yugoslav
command. Then everyone shot at the missiles with rifles,
machine guns, revolvers--everything. Many were shot
down. Chairman Mao used strategy to win against armies
with superior weaponry. The same principles apply today.
"The Chinese people must awake. The backward get kicked
around--only if China develops and becomes a strong
country will it be able to take its place in the world,
said Deng Xiaoping. The Chinese people are becoming
much more concerned about national defense issues. Just
look at the people in line for visas at the U.S. Embassy
in Beijing--all that student talent built by China is
going off to the U.S. Part of the problem is the system,
part is the way human talent is utilized, part is low
pay--China needs to solve these problems. China spends
too little on science and technology, a key basis of
military strength.China is at least 20 years behind
the United States in its overall scientific and technological