Foreign Military Studies Office
101 Meade Ave
Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-1351
The views expressed in FMSO publications
and reports are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent
the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department
of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
Like Adding Wings to the Tiger: Chinese Information War Theory
Timothy L. Thomas , Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth,
During the past five years, numerous Chinese military and civilian
scholars published significant articles or longer works on information
war (IW) and related issues (networking, information theory, simulations,
etc.). An analysis of their works yields several interesting results.
First, the Chinese feel a compelling need to develop a specific
Chinese IW theory. This theory must be in accordance with Chinese
culture, the economic and military situation in the country, the
perceived threat, and Chinese military philosophy and terminology.
Second, Chinese IW theory is strongly influenced by Chinese military
art. China is quickly integrating IW theory into its People's War
concept, for example, a development ignored in the West but one
with far-reaching strategic and operational implications. It is
also considering the development of an independent "net force" branch
of service (to supplement the navy, army and air force), and potentially
looking at applying the 36 stratagems of war to IW methods. Third,
Chinese military science dictates that IW be divided into sub-elements
very different from those studied in the United States. These include
the forms, nature, features, distinctions, principles, types, circles,
and levels of IW. These subdivisions are similar to Russia's IW
methodology, and result in diverse IW definitions and discussions
as compared with those in the West .
While a theory of IW with Chinese characteristics is developing,
turning theory into practice has proven more difficult. This is
not unusual since China is still developing the civilian and military
infrastructure to support their philosophy.
This article will highlight key aspects of the Chinese specific
approach to IW. It will begin by discussing how the information
age has affected China's attitude toward warfare and the specific
Chinese historical factors affecting this interpretation. Next,
Chinese IW definitions will be discussed, and the training courses
and organizational structures to teach IW will be investigated.
Finally, an examination will be made of China's interpretation of
IW activities during the fight for Kosovo, and the most recent training
exercises in its military regions that try to turn theory into reality.
IW with Chinese Characteristics
How has the information age affected China's attitude toward warfare?
It is fair to say that the major change was a reevaluation of how
to evaluate and conduct warfare. China realized that it couldn't threaten
countries as a superpower might do with its current nuclear force,
but something it can do with its IW force. For example, China can
theoretically threaten U.S. financial stability through peacetime
IW. Electrons lie at the heart of not only IW but also the worldwide
economic boom associated with stock markets and e-commerce. The characteristics
of information (global reach, speed of light transmission, nonlinear
effects, inexhaustibility, multiple access, etc.) control the material
and energy of warfare in a way that nuclear weapons cannot. IW attempts to beat the enemy in terms of promptness,
correctness, and sustainability, and electrons are capable of reaching out and touching someone
a long way away. It thus makes complete sense to put a significant
effort into developing an information-based capability in both the
civilian and military sense. From the Chinese point of view, IW is
like adding wings to a tiger, making the latter more combat worthy
than ever before.
Recent reports of hacker attacks on U.S. labs indicate that China
is moving from theory to practice in security matters as well. The
Washington Times reported on 3 August 2000 that hackers suspected
of working for a Chinese government institute broke into a Los Alamos
computer system and took large amounts of sensitive but unclassified
information. Los Alamos spokesman Jim Danneskiold stated that "an
enormous amount of Chinese activity hitting our green, open sites"
Targets of Chinese IW include information sources, channels, and
destinations, and C4I and electronic warfare assets. First
attack objectives, some note, will be the computer networking system
linking political, economic and military installations of a country
as well as society in general; and the ability to control decision-making
to hinder coordinated actions. This requires that both cognitive
and information systems are hit. This IW focus implies that not
just soldiers will conduct warfare in the future, but civilians
too. Some Chinese theorists have recommended organizing network
special warfare detachments and computer experts to form a shock
brigade of "network warriors" to accomplish this task. They will
look for critical nodes and control centers on networks, and sabotage
them. Thus both computer experts and
soldiers, a reflection of China's changing attitude, may conduct
IW has also forced Chinese experts to reconsider how to compute
the correlation of forces. The Chinese believe that military strength
can no longer be calculated using the number of armored divisions,
air force wings, and aircraft carrier battle groups. In the information
age, invisible forces such as computing capabilities, communications
capacity, and system reliability must also be studied.
A second reevaluation of warfare was more
traditional in nature. It is an update of an old theory, yet is
probably China's most far-reaching IW development. Chinese theorists
believe that the capabilities and qualities of the information era
enhance and breathe new life into Mao Zedung's theory of a People's
War. Chinese IW specialist General Wang Pufeng first noted this
condition in 1995. Author Wei Jincheng followed
up this thought in 1996, adding that a People's War with an IW context
Carried out by hundreds of millions of people using open-type
modern information systems. Because the traditional mode of industrial
production has changed from centralization to dispersion, and commercial
activities have expanded from urban areas to rural areas, the working
method and mode of interaction in the original sense are increasingly
information-based.the chance of the people taking the initiative
and randomly participating in the war increased.
Electronics, computer, and information engineering experts are
as likely to become the genuine heroes of a new People's War much
like the warrior class of the past, some believe. Perhaps this focus explains why, in addition to economic factors,
China is willing to reduce its army--China can "keep up" with other
countries by utilizing a multitude of information engineers and
citizens with laptops instead of just soldiers. China clearly has
the people to conduct "take home battle," a reference to battle
conducted with laptops at home that allow thousands of citizens
to hack foreign computer systems when needed. China has a number
of superior software writers and much untapped potential in the
information field. As one author stated, if one or two per cent
of any population has an IQ over 139, as studies predict, then China
must have tens of millions of people in this category. The problem
is how to find more information space and equipment for all of these
IW specialist Shen Weiguang wrote that combatants can be soldiers
or a teenager, whoever possesses the weapon called a computer. The
whole of society will replace traditional battlefields, and different
classes and social groups will take part in political activities
of their own country or any country, in Shen's view. He advocated
developing information protection troops, composed of scientists,
police, soldiers, and other experts versed in IW, to safeguard the
security of the national information boundary, and to launch counterattacks
against an information invasion by other countries.  The goal of Chinese doctrine is to unify the concept of People's
War with the concept of victory through information.
Chinese analysts are keen to point out the increased role of society
in foreign IW scenarios. Wang Xiaodong, while analyzing a RAND IW
document, observed that this study unknowingly outlined a People's
War in the information age. This was because the authors went back
to the day before the IW assault to analyze what could have been
done by society to protect them. He added
Even as to government mobilized troops, the numbers and
roles of traditional warriors will be sharply less than those of
technical experts in all lines.since thousands of personal computers
can be linked up to perform a common operation, to perform many
tasks in place of a large-scale military computer, an IW victory
will very likely be determined by which side can mobilize the most
computer experts and part-time fans. That will be a real People's
Ideas for uniting a People's War with IW are finding fertile ground
in the 1.5 million-reserve force of China. The People's Liberation
Army (PLA) is turning reserve forces in some districts into mini
IW regiments. For example, in the Echeng District (about 700 miles
due south of Beijing) in Hubei Province, the People's Armed Forces
Department (PAFD) reportedly organized 20 city departments (telecommunications,
power, finance, TV, medical, and so on) into a militia/reserve IW
regiment. The PAFD had a network warfare battalion, as well as electronic
warfare (EW), intelligence, and psychological warfare (PSYWAR) battalions,
and 35 technical "Fenduis" (squad to battalion). The PAFD also set
up the first reserve IW training base for 500 people. Instructors
at the base have reportedly run an "Informaticized People's Warfare
Network Simulation Exercise." Even a web site was given for the
Echeng District PAFD, http://ezarmy.net.
On 27 June of 2000, the city of Ezhou (in the Echeng District of
Hubei Province) carried out a national defense mobilization exercise
via computer networks. The initial mission, according to Zhu Jianjian,
commander of the military sub-district, was to explore how civil
networks can be used in wartime and how networks can be used for
rapid mobilization in order to improve the quality and efficiency
of national defense mobilization work. A second mission was to recruit
technical soldiers and scientific and technological equipment from
the national defense mobilization database. An additional task was
to establish wartime command organs, and to formulate various preliminary
plans. During the exercise, networks of the command center and the
member units of the city's national defense mobilization committee
were linked to transmit audio and video information to each other.
Cable TV and computer networks were integrated and put to use.
Echeng is not the only district with reserve/militia units conducting
IW training. The Fujan Province, according to a published report,
held a meeting at Xiamen in December of 1999 that utilized reserve
and militia forces. The report cited militia high-technology Fenduis
that carried out electronic countermeasures, network attack and
defense, and radar reconnaissance operations. These operations were
conducted as part of an enforced blockade of an island. The Xiamen
area is a special economic zone and attracts a higher than usual
number of science and technology clients to the area.
Thus it is a prime area for IW related activities. There are also
reports of reserve IW activity in Xian PAFD, and in the Datong military
In Xian, the PAFD IW Fendui acted as OPFOR for a military district
exercise in the Jinan Military Region. Ten IO methods were listed:
planting information mines; conducting information reconnaissance;
changing network data; releasing information bombs; dumping information
garbage; disseminating propaganda; applying information deception;
releasing clone information; organizing information defense; and
establishing network spy stations. In Datong, 40 plus members of a high technology unit focused
on information security, and on seizing partial "network domination"
in network warfare. The unit held three network warfare OPFOR demonstrations
for the Beijing Military Region, the Central Military Commission,
the General Staff, and North China PLA units.
In a special article in August 2000 entitled "PRC Army Pays Attention
to the Role of Network Warfare," a People's War received as much
attention as networking. The author stated that
Some military figures noted that People's War has undergone
an epochal leap from supporting the front army that made its advances
on vehicles to contemporary network warfare "on keyboards." Jiefangjun
Bao [the Chinese Armed Forces newspaper] maintains that it is necessary
to formulate rules and regulations regarding mobilization and preparation
for "modern People's War" as well as information gathering and processing,
online offensives and defenses, network technology research and
exchanges, and so on in order to provide the norms for the orderly
preparation and building of a "network People's War."
A third and significant way that the information age has affected
China's attitude toward warfare is that China's 36 stratagems may
find new meaning and application. Some 300 years ago an unknown
scholar decided to collect all of China's 36 stratagems and write
them down. His work was called The Secret Art of War: The 36 Stratagems.
The work emphasized deception as a military art that can achieve
military objectives. In the information age, which is characterized
by anonymous attacks and uncertainty (for example, the origin of
viruses or the existence of back doors in programs, making anyone
feel vulnerable), the stratagem just might be revitalized as a tactic.
It should be easier to deceive or inflict perception management
injuries ("guidance injuries" in Chinese) as a result. The information
age is developing into the age of anonymous persuaders.
Some argue that in today's high tech world, these ancient stratagems
are no longer applicable. However, a look at just the first five
stratagems demonstrates that this is not the case. Strategy one
is "fool the emperor to cross the sea." This means that in order to
lower an enemy's guard you must act in the open hiding your true
intentions under the guise of common every day activities. The IW
application would be to use regular e-mail services or business
links over the Internet to mask the insertion of malicious code
or viruses. Strategy two is "besiege Wei to rescue Zhao." This means
that when the enemy is too strong to attack directly, then attack
something he holds dear. The IW application is that if you can't
hit someone with nuclear weapons due to the catastrophic effects
on your own country, then attack the servers and nets responsible
for Western financial, power, political and other systems stability
with electrons. Strategy three is "kill with a borrowed sword."
This means that when you do not have the means to attack your enemy
directly, then attack using the strength of another. The IW application
is simple-send your viruses or malicious code through a cut out
or another country. Strategy four is "await the exhausted enemy
at your ease." This means that it is an advantage to choose the
time and place for battle. Encourage your enemy to expend his energy
in futile quests while you conserve your strength. When he is exhausted
and confused, you attack with energy and purpose. The IW application
here is to use the People's War theory to send out multiple attacks
while saving the significant attack for the time when all of the
West's computer emergency response teams (CERT) are engaged. Finally
strategy five is "loot a burning house." This means that when a
country is beset by internal conflicts, then it will be unable to
deal with an outside threat. The IW application is to put hackers
inside the West (under the guise of a student or business) and attack
from the inside. While chaos reigns, steal from information resource
A May 2000 Chinese article on Internet War offered the implied
logic behind "why" military leaders might use such stratagems today.
The article stated that China is a relatively weak information operations
power at the moment and must use tricks and strategy as an invisible
combat strength to make up for the shortage of material conditions.
A fourth characteristic affecting China's attitude toward warfare
is the focus on knowledge warfare as a competitor to IW. Knowledge
warfare refers to a battle of competing brains (decision-makers
on both sides of a confrontation) that process seemingly endless
streams of information (the IW connection) and regurgitates the
information in intelligible, useable form giving one side an advantage.
Innovation and the ability to "think outside the box" are also important.
The speed of both innovation and processing thus determines combat
power. This implies that a commander
must be able to think in terms other than two-dimensional maps,
telephones, and so on. "How to think" may be more important than
how to do something. Shen, for example, believes that the losers
in future war will be those lacking command thinking rather than
backward technology. Thus the confrontation of two commands is a type of knowledge
war that involves a trial of strength revolving around the procurement,
control, and use of information,making intellectual resources
as important as scarce resources. Knowledge is becoming the paramount
strategic resource, more important in the balance of power than
weapons. Warfare thus may be waged around the struggle for intellectual
resources, such as the allegiance of a hi-tech expert or the patented
right to a piece of technology according to some.
Finally, consideration is being given to developing a "net force,"
a separate branch to fight the high tech battles of the future.
This is a significant development if it ever occurs (the article's
authors stated that it was "very likely" to happen), as it will
represent a dramatic break from the old construct of a navy, army
and air force as the main branches of the armed forces. The Chinese
believe that violations of cyberspace are as important (if not more
so due to their concealed nature) than violations of national sovereignty,
especially if vital information resources or data banks are penetrated
and information stolen. Thus, a net force is needed.
The net force would protect net sovereignty and engage in net warfare,
a technology and knowledge-intensive type of warfare. Net technology
would include scanning technology to break codes, steal data, and
take recovery (anti-follow-up) actions. It would include superior
offensive technology capable of launching attacks and countermeasures
on the net, including information-paralyzing software, information-blocking
software, and information-deception software. It would include masquerade
technology capable of stealing authority from the network by assuming
a false identity. And it would include defensive technology that
can ward off attacks, serve as an electronic gate to prevent internal
leaks, and block arbitrary actions much like an electronic policeman.
There are also several terms that are found only in Chinese writings
that add to the idea of IW with Chinese characteristics. These include
military soft science ; information frontier, information alliance,
information factory, information police, and informationized army; deceptive, occupation/hindrance, contamination,
blocking, and guidance injuries; negative entropy, information
volume, information quality; information invasion,
information deterrence, information protection troops; and informationized war
and information assault.
Chinese IW Definitions: Focus on Network and Cognitive Processes
[[For comparative purposes for the remainder
of this section, the U.S. armed forces definitions of information
operations and information war are presented here: Information operations
"are actions taken to affect adversary information and information
systems, while defending one's own information and information systems.
.major capabilities to conduct IO include, but are not limited to,
OPSEC, PSYOP, military deception, EW, and physical attack/destruction,
and could include CNA." Information war is "information operations conducted during
time of crisis or conflict to achieve or promote specific objectives
over a specific adversary or adversaries."]]
There are several Chinese authors who command respect for the scope
of their works and depth of their thought on IW issues. Dr. Shen
Weiguang, Major General Wang Pufeng, Senior Colonel Wang Baocun,
and General YuanBanggen are certainly among these individuals, if
not at the top of the list.
Studying Chinese IW definitions consecutively by year offers clues
to the developing nature of Chinese IW theory.The definition of IW
offered by Shen Weiguang in 1996, one of the first, stated that IW
is a war in which both sides strive to hold the battlefield initiative
by controlling the flow of information and intelligence. This initial
definition did not address information superiority or information
operations, just control. Instead of protecting friendly information
systems and attacking enemy systems, as the U.S. defines the term,
Shen emphasized protecting oneself and controlling the enemy.  Wang Pufeng, also writing
in 1996, stated that the central issue in achieving victory in IW
is control of information. Authors Yang and Guo added their voices
to this emphasis on control, stating that the most important initiative
on future battlefields would be the power to control information.
Victory will be determined by the side that has the capability to
control information resources and their utilization. These are the
indices of a nation's capacity to direct a war effort, they wrote. Thus in 1996 the emphasis was
clearly on control.
In 1997 there were fewer
attempts to define IW. Author Liang Zhenxing stated that IW includes
all types of war fighting activities that involve the exploitation,
alteration, and paralysis of the enemy's information and information
systems, as well as all those types of activities which involve
protecting one's own information and information systems from exploitation,
alteration, and paralysis by the enemy. Liang added that the Chinese
definition of IW should take cognizance of Chinese characteristics
but be in line with the definition prevailing internationally. Perhaps
for that reason his IW definition is closer than some to the U.S.
definition. Liang added that the essence of IW is to render the
operational space unclear and indistinct to the enemy while making
it transparent to one's own forces. Another 1997 author, Wang
Baocun, provided a masterful description of IW through the dissecting
eyes of Chinese military science. His article covered the forms,
nature, levels, distinctions, features and principles of IW. He
listed forms of IW as peacetime, crisis and wartime; the nature
of IW as reflected in offensive and defensive operations; levels
of IW as national, strategic, theater, and tactical; and other distinctions
of IW as command and control, intelligence, electronic, psychological,
cyberspace, hackers, virtual, economic, strategy and precision.
He listed features of IW as complexity, limited goals, short duration,
less damage, larger battle space and less troop density, transparency,
the intense struggle for information superiority, increased integration,
increased demand on command, new aspects of massing forces, and
the fact that effective strength may not be the main target. He
stated that principles of IWinclude decapitation, blinding, transparency,
quick response, and survival. His definition and analysis
offer some of the most important insights into Chinese IW.
In 1998 there were even fewer original discussions of the term
IW. One analyst defined IW as the ability to hinder an opponent's
decision-making while protecting friendly decision-making abilities.
It is interesting that the Chinese emphasis is not on attacking
enemy information or information systems but on "hindering" an opponent's
decision-making. It is a slight but significant
diversion from the U.S. definition.
In 1999 Chinese analysts again returned to a serious debate over
IW issues. Shen Weiguang defined IW this time more broadly as involving
two sides in pitched battle against one another in the political,
economic, cultural, scientific, social, and technological fields.
The fight was over information space and resources. He also defined
IW narrowly as the confrontation of warring parties in the field
of information. The essence of IW, Shen wrote, is to attain the
objective of "forcing enemy troops to surrender without a fight"
through the use of information superiority. Obviously this definition
echoes historical Chinese thoughts on warfare. However, this seems
to imply that information superiority is more of a cognitive than
systems related process.
Another Chinese author
who defined IW in 1999 was Yuan Banggen, the head of a General Staff
Directorate. He stated that IW is the struggle waged to seize and
keep control over information, and the struggle between belligerent
parties to seize the initiative in acquiring, controlling and using
information. This is accomplished by capitalizing on and sabotaging
the enemy's information resources, information system, and informationized
weapon systems, and by utilizing and protecting one's own information
resources, information systems, and informationized weapon systems.
Yuan thus substitutes capitalizing and sabotaging for the U.S. term
attacking while simultaneously emphasizing control. He also noted
that IW is a kind of knowledge warfare (see above), a rivalry between
groups of professionals with hi-tech knowledge.
Senior Colonel Wang Baocun, the author who did such a good job
of dividing IW into its various components in 1997, offered a third
1999 IW discussion. He distinguished between IW and informationized
war, defining IW as a form of fighting and part of a complete war,
and informationized warfare as an entirely new form of war. IW will
gradually become informationized war, Wang noted, but this won't
happen until the middle of the 21st Century when informationized
forces will be available. The latter is the follow-on to mechanized
forces. Wang views informationized forces as the soul of Sun Tsu's
"subduing the enemy without battle," a tactic requiring superior
military strength, full preparedness, destroying the enemy's strategy,
and cultivating, conducting and fostering discipline. The goal is
to "force the enemy side to regard their goal as our goal," to "force
the opponent to give up the will to resist and end the confrontation
and stop fighting by attacking an enemy's perception and belief
via information energy." If perceptions are attacked correctly,
morale drops and with it control, the main ingredient in IW.The
proper information assault can make this work. Wang's discussion thus includes
some cognitive aspects of IW and again an emphasis on control.
Xie Guang, the Vice-Minister of the Commission of Science, technology
and Industry for National Defense, also defined IW in late December
1999.He stated that IW "in the military sense means overall use
of various types of information techniques, equipment, and systems,
using disturbance, misinformation or destruction of the enemy's
information systems, particularly his command systems, to shake
the determination of the enemy's policymakers, and at the same time
the use of all means possible to ensure that one's own information
systems are not damaged or disturbed."China's external IW goal
is thus to shake the determination of opposing policymakers, while
its internal goal is to protect information systems. Xie also described
the three areas of IW as first, command, control, communications,
computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR),
second electronic warfare, and third computer attack and defense
Finally, in 2000, IW
specialist Wang Pufeng offered a deeper explanation of information
war than any seen to date, distinguishing it from information warfare.
In Wang's opinion, an information war refers to a kind of war and
a kind of war pattern, while information warfare refers to a kind
of operation and a kind of operational pattern. The new operational
pattern refers to operations in a computer network space. Information
warfare embraces information detection systems, information transmission
systems, information and weapon strike systems, and information
processing and use systems. IW embraces information warfare. Both
integrate information and energy and use an information-network-based
battlefield as their arena of activity.
There were very few
Chinese authors who attempted to define information operations,
a subject touched on by Wang Pufeng. One who did was Yuan Banggen
in his 1999 article. He stated that information operations (IO)
are specific IW operations. IW is the core of informationized warfare,
whereas information operations are the manifestation of information
warfare on the battlefield, in Yuan's opinion. IO means information
wars in the narrow sense, that is the military field, and they are
usually integrated, high and new technology countermeasures. IO's
theoretical system is formed from two levels, basic and application.
Basic theories consist of basic concepts about IO, its organizational
structure and technological equipment, command and control for IO,
and so on. Application theories can be categorized into offensive
IO and defensive IO, strategic, operational, campaign and tactical
levels, and into peacetime, wartime, and crisis-period IO. All activities
of IO center on command and control. IO's two missions are preparation
and implementation. Its principles are centralized command, multi-level
power delegation, multi-dimensional inspection and testing, timely
decision-making, and the integration of military and civilian actions
with a focus on key links.
Yuan also discussed digital forces and digital battlefields in
the same article. Digital forces are new-generation combat units.
These forces are mainly armed with digitized electronic information
equipment and combat weapons. They are characterized by the integration
of command and control, intelligence, reconnaissance, early warning,
detection, communications, and electronic countermeasures and by
the intellectualization of principal combat weapons.The digital
battlefield denotes the battlefield where the effective linking
and use of strategic, campaign, and tactical command automation
systems are realized, based on digital information technology. Digital
forces and digital battlefields are the two main components of IW.
Digital forces can also be called informationized forces and digital
battlefields can also be called informationized battlefields. The digitization standard of the communication
system affects and determines the quality and process of the construction
of digital forces and digital battlefields. Therefore, the construction
of the digitized communication system is the "core of cores" in
the construction of digital forces and digital battlefields.
One author briefly discussed
what he called information network warfare (INW). He broadly defined
it as a war in which two opposing sides try to take over information
space and vie for information resources. Narrowly defined an INW
refers to a confrontation on the network between two opposing sides
in war. INW tests human willpower, intelligence, and technology.Author Qi Jianguo suggested uniting the network
with a People's War. He recommended that the PLA establish an authoritative,
centralized and united network People's War organizational organ.
It would control information operations and networking activities,
and allow for the conduct of mobilization exercises and education
on People's War on the net. Similar organs would be established
at different levels in the provinces, cities, and prefectures. Laws
and regulations need to be formulated in order to standardize the
preparations and development of a network People's War.
It was noted that China must uphold the principle of combining the
establishment of networks for both wartime and peacetime use, setting
up networks for both military and civilian use, and develop Internet
service in a limited manner.
While most of the definitions above focused
principally on systems, there is also a Chinese predilection to
study cognitive processes. In fact some, like Shen, believe that
IW's essence is the sum of information capabilities capable of breaking
the enemy's will to resist by attacking his cognitive understanding
and convictions causing the enemy to give up all resistance and
terminate the war. The main tasks of IW are disrupting the enemy's
cognitive system and trust system, Shen noted in 1996.
Wang Baocun also believes strongly in
the union of IW and cognitive processes. He described perception
structures, perception systems, and belief systems as IW components
in one of his articles. He defined a perception structure as "all
things that an individual or a group considers correct or true,
regardless of whether these things that are considered correct or
true have been obtained through perception or belief." Perception
structures are defined as composed of perception systems, those
"systems which are established and operated in order to understand
or observe verifiable phenomena by turning such phenomena into perceptible
realities and subsequently to make decisions or take action on the
basis of intuitive understanding of such realities."Belief systems
are "systems which guide testable empirical information and such
information and consciousness that cannot be tested or are hard
This focus on perceptions
and beliefs is interesting because some Chinese IW specialists believe
that communications and the media are the main areas of IW concern
today. According to Yang Minqing, IW is a face off in the field
of information between opposing parties. This is reflected primarily
in a fight to gain the initiative over information resources and
control of the production, transmission, and processing of information
so as to damage information-based public opinion on the enemy's
side. Yang believes that IW is divided into two fields. They are
national IW (which tries to seize information by intelligence, diplomacy,
commercial, and strategic psychological warfare) and national defense
IW (which tries to maintain an upper hand over information acquisition
between two armies, and includes intelligence, electronic, command
and control, and psychological warfare). In both cases the fight
is over information space and information resources. A point of
IW concern is communications/media, which can play a strategic role.
Communications can also have a deterrent effect, and possess an
ability to manipulate the populace, wherein lies its importance
as a target.
Chinese Organizations and Training to Conduct
There are several organizations charged with IW instruction for
the PLA. The lead organization is the Communications Command Academy.
The Academy is located in Wuhan, the capital of central China's
Hubei Province. In 1998 the Academy announced the publication of
two books, Command and Control in IW and Technology in IW that became
the leading Chinese IW texts. The first book discussed who should
exercise command and control (C2), the means to exercise C2, the
spheres, principles and forms of IO, new concepts for building an
information corps, and the principles on which IW should be based.
The second book explored the composition, characteristics, and development
trends of basic IW technologies. This included the retrieval, transmission
and processing of information. It also established a structural
system for IW and offered strategies for technological developments
in the army. The Academy is well respected for its IW curriculum
that analyzes strategic, operational, and tactical IW requirements. Nearly two years later, the Communications Command Academy hosted
a training course on information war, research on information command
and tactics, and research on information combat. Interestingly, the academy is located not far
from the reserve component IW regiment in Echeng district.
A second leading PLA IW institute is the Information Engineering
University, established by combining the Institute of Information
Engineering, the Electronic Technology College, and the Survey and
Mapping college. The university is located in Zhengzhou, the capital
of Henan Province. It will help cultivate professionals for hi-tech
warfare involving the use of information, according to President
Major General Zhou Rongting, and will create a number of new specialties
such as remote image information engineering, satellite-navigation
and positioning engineering, and map data banks. Major specialties
include information security, modern communications technology,
and space technology.
A third PLA IW location is the Science and Engineering University.
It was established by combining the Institute of Communications
Engineering, the Engineering Institute of the Engineering Corps,
the Meteorology Institute of the Air Force, and the 63rd
Research Institute of the General Staff headquarters. It trains
new military personnel in fields such as IW, communication and command
automation, and other subjects. University President Major
General Si Laiyi said that a new Institute of Computer and Command
Automation set up six disciplines, including electronic engineering,
information engineering, network engineering, command automation
engineering, and counter-information with key information warfare
technologies as the core. There are over 400 experts and professors
at the university teaching IW theories and technological subjects.
A fourth PLA IW institute is the National Defense Science and Technology
University in Changsha.Directly under the supervision of the Central
Military Commission, it is where the "Yin He" series of supercomputers
are developed. From April to June of 1999 some 60 senior officers (average
age 53) studied hi-tech warfare at the university while the war
over Kosovo was raging.Lessons included reconnaissance, monitoring
technology, precision guidance technology, electronic war, and information
war, among other subjects. One conclusion about future wars was
that "an information umbrella has become the most important factor,
and the opponent's nerve center the most important military target." The university apparently runs
this course several times a year at army level and at levels above
army. The most recent class was held in April 2000.
Nearly 300 officers had received training at the university by that
time. Special emphasis in the most recent class was placed on instruction
and discussion of electronic and information techniques (and associated
topics, such as guidance control, command automation, etc.) and
"three offenses and three defenses" training (see discussion below
on this latter subject).
A PLA Navy institute studying IW is the Navy Engineering College
headed by President Shao Zijun. The general orientation of the College
is to combine arms and information. Integrating electronic information
with weapons systems does this. The College hopes to help adapt
the Chinese Navy to the combat needs of information warfare. The
College is also located in Wuhan and perhaps shares research on
IW with the Communications Command Academy.
These universities and colleges reflect the IW changes that the
PLA foresees. Information is viewed as a multiplier of combat effectiveness
and a strategic resource. In the opinion of some instructors, warfare
is now about intelligence and resourcefulness, new temporal-spatial
concepts, resolute decisiveness, and the "soft science" technology
located in new weapons. These forms and means present significant challenges
to Chinese cadres assigned the job of teaching these subjects since
the level of science and culture among commanders is relatively
low. The system of training advanced in 1996 to handle this problem
involved first laying a sound strategic foundation, then improving
everyone's knowledge about IW by studying the experiences of foreign
armies. These steps were to be followed by expanding basic IW skills,
especially in electronic and psychological warfare, and in information
attack and defense. Finally attention would be paid to converting
knowledge to ability through the conduct of IW exercises. Press
reports indicated that this plan was followed. The first years were spent
discussing the strategy and theory of the Revolution in Military
Affairs and the use of IW in the Gulf War. A general discussion
of the meaning and use of the offensive and defensive components
of IW followed this. Finally, since 1997 numerous IW exercises were
reported in the press.
One of the more interesting articles on IW training appeared in
February of 1999. IW was defined as knowledge-style warfare, a special
trial of strength between highly talented people. This definition
arose from the fact that hi-tech war demands a high level of knowledge
by commanders and operators, strong psychological qualities, command
ability, and operational skills. Recognizing that China lags behind
in several of these categories, the PLA leadership has decided to
carry out training at various levels. Each is age dependent. The
first category is support-style talent, where the main targets are
leading cadres who are over 40 years of age. These are decision-makers,
and the aim is to eliminate their information illiteracy, to change
their concepts through training (from mechanized concepts to simulated
IW fighting), and to apply their new ideas to future war. Training
content for this group is information technology basics, the theory
of IW, and general knowledge of IW weapons. Method of training is
to focus on short training courses, supplemented by other methods.
The second category is transitional-style talent. Here cadres aged
30-40 were targeted. As the future leaders of China, they must focus
on enhancing their ability to command in IW environments. Training
aims were to supply them with information technology lessons they
may have missed in college, and to ensure they grasped the requirements,
special features, and laws of future IW. It was also important for
them to understand the components of information weapons systems,
and to have instructors lay a firm foundation for information theory.
Finally, they must master the principles, forms, methods, and skills
for IW command.
The third and final category is called regeneration-style talent.
This involved cadres aged 30 or less. These individuals are already
acclimated to information society and possess a general all-round
foundation in modern information technology theory. Their focus
is on both command and technology. They receive advanced IW training,
from ideological concept to theoretical foundation to skill in application.
As opposed to the other two age groups, their training method is
The training for each age group includes:
- basic theory, including computer basics and application, communications
network technology, the information highway, and digitized units
- electronic countermeasures, radar technology
- IW rules and regulations
- IW strategy and tactics
- theater and strategic IW
- information systems, including gathering, handling, disseminating,
and using information
- combat command, monitoring, decision-making, and control systems
- information weapons, including concepts, principles of soft
and hard destruction, and how to apply these weapons
- and simulated IW, protection of information systems, computer
virus attacks and counterattacks, and jamming and counterjamming
of communications networks.
This article made it appear that China is well on its way to developing
a first rate IW curriculum. But later reports suggest that this
is still wishful thinking. For example, a July 1999 report noted
Irrationalities in the training content, system, and structure
have kept IW training from truly becoming the mainstream of our
military training. At present, IW training is in a "do-as-you-please"
situation in which the content is not systematic, the operations
lack order, there are no assessment standards, and management lacks
The requirement to fulfill many of these points was reemphasized
in October of 1999 by Fu Quanyou, chief of the Chinese General Staff.
He wrote that four new aspects must be created. These were: create
new IW theories, design a 21st century system of hi-tech
military training, create high-tech military training forms and
methods, and create operational, coordinating, and support training
A final item worthy of mention is the training style know as "striking
at three things and defending against three things" which the Chinese
claim has been upgraded to information age standards. Old style
"three-three" was centered on exhausting the enemy's vital forces,
preserving China's vital forces, and striving for superiority in
manpower, firepower, and machine power. The focal point of contention
was to gain superiority in material capability. New style "three-three"
is centered on obtaining, transmitting, handling, and protecting
information, and the focal point of contention is to achieve information
superiority."Striking at three things" means countering enemy destruction
by active offensive means to ensure the stability of China's information
system. It also means defending against precision attacks, and is
designed to obtain target information. Units at and above army level
should focus their study on reconnaissance and early warning, command
coordination, and application of strategy. Divisions and brigades
should focus on studying the application of firepower and the improvement
and innovation of hardware. Units at and below regimental level
should study and train in how to "respond rapidly and hit accurately."
Defending against three things means obtaining
optical, infrared, and electromagnetic target information. The key
lies in adopting various means to seal off and weaken information
on the target's external radiation, or make the enemy receive erroneous
information. In addition, as students of the dialectic, Chinese
military scientists view IW developments through a "thesis" and
"anti-thesis" dialectical framework and concoct much of their training
and research in a similar fashion. They recommend conducting various
types of "anti" training, such as anti-reconnaissance, anti-cruise
missile, and anti-interference training to offset IW weaponry. They
think in terms of establishing an anti-information battlefield monopoly
in order to offset another nation's information superiority.
Chinese Perceptions of the IW Battle for Kosovo
Chinese IW specialist Wang Baocun offered the best analysis of
how both the Serbian Armed Forces and NATO used IW during the conflict.
Defining IW as "a military struggle in the information arena for
the power to create information," he discussed NATO's offensive
IW and Serbian defensive IW.
NATO used IW in the pre-conflict stage, according to Wang, through
extensive reconnaissance and monitoring of the potential conflict
area. This included the use of military satellites, reconnaissance,
electronic monitoring and what Wang described as the use of 400
spies. NATO began the next phase of the operation, the strike stage,
by "beheading" the Yugoslav army's command system through a series
of strikes. NATO then used IW superiority in the air (MiG-29's do
not have advanced electronic information systems to safeguard it)
and waged an effective air war. At the same time, electronic warfare
capabilities focused on assessing battle damage swung into high
gear. Thus from Wang's point of view, the NATO strike engagement
package included electronic countermeasures, precision strikes,
and damage assessment. Simultaneously a variety of psychological
warfare means were employed. Wang defined psychological warfare
as "offensive warfare" aimed at changing the mental state of the
enemy army and people. NATO first intensified the protection of
its own information and prevented third parties from providing intelligence
information to the FRY. Wang reported on the creation of a NATO
information blockade that prevented the Yugoslav army and people
from obtaining key information.
Protective measures taken by NATO were well advised and paid dividends.
The Chinese Liberation Army Daily (LAD) disclosed on 27 July 1999
that a "network battle" was fought between Chinese and U.S. hackers
following the 8 May bombing of the Chinese embassy. U.S. hackers,
according to the report, aimed their counterattack at the following
- Xin Lang Wang or Sina- http://home.sina.com.cn
- Zhongwen Re Xun or Yesite-http://www.yesite.com
- Shanghai Wang Sheng or Shanghai Web Boom (no http listed)
The Chinese initiated the U.S. hack by altering the home page of
the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, writing on it"down with the Barbarians."
The Chinese also report causing a blackout at a few U.S. political
and military web sites, and some 300 civilian web sites. The methodology
for performing these hacks, according to the LAD article, was the
mobilization of thousands and thousands of net users to issue a
ping command to certain web sites at the same time. This caused
servers to be overloaded, and paralyzed these websites. In addition,
thousands and thousands of e-mails were sent daily to the opposite
side, thus blocking mail servers. Viruses were sent via e-mail,
and attacks were launched with "hacker tools" hidden in certain
programs. The LAD article called for developing a computer network
warfare capability, training a large number of network fighters
in PLA academies, strengthening network defenses in China, and absorbing
a number of civilian computer masters to take part in actions of
a future network war.
Wang had high praise for the IW countermeasures utilized by Serb
forces against NATO air attacks.The primary countermeasure was to
use concealment to preserve Serb military strength. They did this
by hiding planes in caves and along ring roads and highways; hiding
armored vehicles in forests, near buildings in cities, and in mountains;
allowing the army to disperse in cities and villages, mingling with
the Albanians; and moving command and control organizations underground.
They also used technical means to avoid enemy reconnaissance. These
measures included not switching on air defense radar, calculating
when military satellites would go over, putting greenery on armored
vehicles or placing them next to heat sources, displaying corrugated
iron and other radar "bait" to attract missiles and planes ("conceal
the genuine and display the fake"), and taking advantage of weak
points (such as the fact that surveillance cannot pierce smoke and
clouds).Finally, like China, the Serbs used the Internet to fight
NATO. They set up a number of sites on the worldwide web to describe
how NATO was carrying out its air strikes, and tried to overload
NATO systems with excessive numbers of e-mail.
A Chinese analyst noted that as the earth shrinks in virtual size
via the use of information technology (telecommunications, the Internet,
etc.), the size of the battlefield is actually growing. This includes,
of course, all of the key nodes making up our virtual networks.The
Chinese call attacks on key nodes "acupuncture war," with key points
on the network become targets. Net points are of crucial importance
to the survivability of a network. According to Metcalfe's Law "the
value of a network is the square of the number of net points." So
by destroying net points one gets twice the results with half the
effort in geometric terms. In addition to net point warfare, the
Serbs learned valuable lessons from what the Chinese termed the
"three anti's and one resistance." The three antis included anti-reconnaissance,
anti-interference, and anti-invisibility, and the resistance was
working against destruction. The Chinese armed forces also noted
that militaries must change from organizing according to weapon
systems to organizing according to information systems. The Chinese
military must become flexible, more like "building blocks" that
can be quickly restructured and reorganized.
One article suggested that the Kosovo conflict was an example of
the U.S.'s application of asymmetrical warfare. The latter was defined
as "war between forces of different types, such as air force to
navy, air force to army, navy to army, or army to air force." The
key to asymmetrical warfare is to bring respective service advantages
into full play, to pit the superior against the inferior and to
avoid strengths while attacking weaknesses. Interestingly, the author
quoted Mao Zedong at this point, who suggested that many armies
were against going head to head with other armies. As a counter,
Mao believed that "we are not like Sung Hsiang-kung, not being so
stupidly humane, just and virtuous." This belief certainly puts
a different slant on asymmetry, sounding more like the book by two
PLA colonels entitled Unrestricted War! Asymmetrical war was further
described as having smart war characteristics, such as being grounded
in technology, having information as its mainstay, developing in
the direction of no-contact warfare, and making the battlefield
more multidimensional. While this description of asymmetrical warfare
is an over exaggeration of the concept, it nonetheless reflects
how some Chinese interpret it.
Another article discussed NATO's information monopoly on the asymmetric
battlefield. This meant that NATO could choose the forces, time
and space it wanted to apply combat power on the battlefield, allowing
one side to control a larger battlefield radius than the other.
The understanding is that one side's antenna or feelers can reach
out farther than the other, enabling it to engage in no-contact
or "beyond-defense" warfare. This ability offered absolute control
of the situation. As a counter, the Chinese recommended developing
anti-information, anti-air, and anti-battlefield monopolies. The
article suggested that in order to overcome these monopolies China
must "change our ideas, creating new battlefields such as the special
operations battlefield, enemy-rear battlefield, and psychological
warfare battlefield." Some of these preparations must be done in
a war's initial or preparation stage to ensure that no chance to
strike is lost. Mao Zedong's statement about not practicing any
idiotic humanity was then repeated by the author.
Simple preparations helped to thwart or at least complicate some
NATO IW missions according to other Chinese authors. These preparations
included, according to one source, a French officer from the Kosovo
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who gave the
Serbian armed forces part of NATO's attack plan; military experts
sent to Iraq to learn from the Iraqis how to fight against NATO
and U.S. planes (radar signatures, flight patterns, etc.); and drills
and rehearsals teaching how to intercept cruise missiles. Camouflaging key positions and equipment, and building false
targets (burnt out armored vehicles with cut off telephone poles
for main turrets, fake communications simulating command and control
points, etc.) and false positions (bridges, etc.) caused NATO to
waste assets on the wrong targets.
An interesting training article with a Kosovo IW twist also appeared
in the Chinese press. The article was a summary of the first all-army
collective training session for division and brigade chiefs of staff.
Conducted by the Communications Command Academy, the instructors
used the war in Kosovo as a frame of reference (the conference was
held on 13 July 1999, shortly after the end of the fighting). One
officer, Liu Xinsheng, noted that there were really four steps to
NATO's combat performance. First, NATO used information reconnaissance
operations to acquire precise intelligence information on strike
targets. Second, NATO used hard weapons to destroy or paralyze command
and control systems and air defense systems of the Yugoslav armed
forces. Third, NATO used precision combat led by electronic warfare
to attack various military, economic, transportation, energy, public
opinion, and other targets. Finally, NATO carried out damage assessments
using airborne and ground photography and observations to determine
the next bombing targets and make corrections. Information operations
permeated these processes, such as NATO carrying out information
The Yugoslav armed forces hid their equipment well and used traditional
tactics as a counter to NATO reconnaissance missions. To deal with
precision weapons, the Serbs divided the whole into parts, combining
action with waiting and actively constructing a ground battlefield
in which they moved to avoid destruction. They also studied the
performance characteristics of Tomahawk cruise missiles to look
for performance vulnerabilities. Tactics included:
- Avoiding strikes: by not turning on air defense radars, they
kept NATO planes from finding their targets.
- Hooking the fish: they used folded corrugated steel or other
materials as a decoy for radar, misleading the attacking missiles
- Hide and seek: they took advantage of the blind zones and dead
angles in the operational orbits and dead space of NATO reconnaissance
- Relay intercept: they mixed the deployment of radars with different
modalities and used the cross-deployment of weapons with different
ranges to lay ambushes along the attack routes, switching on radar
suddenly, performing intercept by firepower at different levels,
and concentrating the fire of the weapons. This tactic was based
on the mixed formations of NATO weaponry and their multi-echelon
Finally, the conflict over Kosovo convinced the PLA that it must
use short-term solutions while modernizing. The goal of catching
up with America in IW in the next two decades is not one filled
with optimism, especially after watching the advanced performance
of NATO weaponry. But there is a serious will to accomplish this
goal, especially since building an information economy and a PLA
IW capability go hand in hand. IW is not just simulations and precision
weapons, but also hacking, electronic jamming and paralyzing, and
conducting disinformation campaigns. A sub goal is to "wreak havoc
on opponents' digital archives." Thus, the battle over Kosovo, from
a Chinese point of view, actually helped to speed up PLA modernization.
There have been several significant Chinese IW military exercises
during the past three years. Each is important, for exercises explain
the transition from theory to practice. The first "special" (meaning
IW) PLA battle took place in October 1997. In the Shenyang Military
Region a Group Army (GA) underwent a computer attack that paralyzed
its systems.The GA countered with virus killing software, and the
exercise was termed an "invasion and anti-invasion" event. This
exercise involved the deployment of ground, logistics, medical,
and air force units. As one observer noted:
the speed of marking and mapping on the computer screens
by the advisors was more than 20 times fasterthan the traditional
manual methods, and accuracy was 100 percent [faster]. The computer
network in the command unit was activating more than 100 terminals,
connecting and commanding a fourth-degree campaign network...the
commanders' attention was not on the number of documents handled,
but on whether the high-tech design was excellent. Their focus was
not on whether the commanding procedures and soldiers' movements
were standardized, but on how much high technology was being applied
to their strategies and operations.
The Taiwan Central News Agency on 27 December published a report
on the exercise, and accused the PLA of using the exercise to develop
a computer-virus warfare capability.
In 1998, the Chinese offered another example
of high-technology battlefield prowess when it staged an integrated
high-technology exercise in October that united several military
regions around the country. The center of gravity of the exercise
was the Beijing Military Region, where a joint defense warfare drill
used a "military information superhighway" for the first
time. It was described as an information network sub-system of the
command automation system, composed of digital,
dial, command net, and restricted channels. Other elements of the
command automation system are the command
operations, audio and graphics process and control, and data encryption
sub-systems. The exercise started on 20 October and was coordinated
with several other regions. The superhighway transmitted graphics,
characters, and audio data in addition to situation maps.
The Lanzhou Military Region, which includes the Gobi Desert, most
likely also participated, since they reported on 26 October (as
did the Beijing Region) of having participated in a high-technology
exercise that emphasized electronic confrontation. The focus of their effort was
on electronic reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance, electronic
interference and counter-interference, and electronic destruction
and counter-destruction. Earlier in October, the General
Staff reported that it too had held an all-army high-technology
training exercise to discuss and design training issues to meet
the challenges of the worldwide military revolution. Fu Quanyou,
chief of the General Staff, attended and presided over the training
exercise. They viewed the training of the Shenyang Military Region, which may also have been part
of the exercise mentioned above.
In October 1999 the PLA conducted another IW exercise. Two army
groups of the Beijing Military Region conducted a confrontation
campaign on the computer network. Reconnaissance and counter reconnaissance,
interference and counter-interference, blocking and counter-blocking,
and air strikes and counter air strikes were practiced. Six categories
were included in the software environment: resource sharing, command
operations, situation displays, supplementary assessments, signal
transmissions, and intelligence. A computer evaluation system analyzed
the performance of the participants in a quantitative and qualitative
manner. The Operation Department of the General Staff said this
was the first time that a computer confrontation was conducted at
the campaign level between a red army and a blue army. Actual field operations
of a similar nature (counter reconnaissance, etc.) were conducted
simultaneously in the Jinan Theater. The performance of the high
tech weaponry was like that of a tiger with wings, according to
one observer. The force demonstrated new
tactics of using live ammunition to hit enemy cruise missiles and
computer technology to hit information networks, links and points. Advantages to using such
high tech tools, according to reporter Zhang Feng, is that it enables
a near-real "war laboratory" experience. It improves the science
and technology quality and strategic level of commanders and staff,
helps to improve the capability of the trainee to command joint
operations, and has a very high training quality and "benefit to
The number of IW exercises is growing in the PLA. In July of 2000,
the Chengdu Military Region conducteda confrontational campaign
exercise on the Internet. The three training tasks associated with
the exercise included organizing and planning the campaign, striving
for air and information control, and making and countering breakthroughs.
Over 100 terminals were linked for the exercise. Three weeks later the Guangzhou
Military Region conducted a high tech exercise. An order to start
controlling communications channels was sent out to the subordinate
units. The regiment in question has "shouldered the major task of
conducting information operations and giving electromagnetic wave
support during future wars."
This discussion covered IW theory with
Chinese characteristics. What conclusions do we draw after this
lengthy discussion, first about Chinese IW and then about recommendations
for the U.S. armed forces?
There are several issues to highlight
about IW theory with a Chinese flavor. First, Chinese military theorists
have found a willing, relatively cheap, and malleable ally in IW,
an ally that can enable China to catch up with the West in both
strategic military and international status. These areas could lead
China to play an important strategic deterrent role (or potential
troublemaker) in the Asia-Pacific region in the future and to gradually
emerge into an economic competitor worthy of close scrutiny.
Second, China has placed an unusual emphasis
on the emerging role of new IW forces. These various groups include
a net force (separate armed forces branch), a shock brigade of network
warriors, information protection troops, an information corps, electronic
police, and a united network People's War organ, among other units.
The latter is worthy of the most focus by foreign analysts due to
its unique nature and potential. Interestingly, Western nations
are currently the most capable of instituting such a concept, since
computers reside in so many homes and offices, but the concept of
forming an army from society is absent in these countries. Chinese
theorists believe that an IW victory will very likely be determined
by the side mobilizing the most computer experts to participate
in take home battle. These forces would employ a strategy such as
net point warfare, attempting to take out important information
nodes and junctions. The Chinese believe in the power of network
stability, and focus much of their IW theory on the protection of
Third, Chinese IW emphasis currently reflects a mixture of Western
and Chinese thinking that is moving away from the former. It is
a Chinese proclivity to stress control, computerized warfare, network
warfare, and knowledge warfare instead of information superiority
and "system of systems" theories which have become the norm in the
West. In many ways, Chinese thinking is closer to that of the Russians
due to a common frame of reference (military art and the Marxist
dialectic). There has also evolved a Chinese specific IW lexicon
that is different from Russia and the West. It includes such terms
as acupuncture warfare, military soft science, and informationized
Fourth, Chinese IW often looks to Chinese military history to find
answers to today's problems. These answers can be found in such
rich locations as the secret art of war's 36 stratagems. The nature
and characteristics of IW appear to fit well with these stratagems.
Americans spend precious little time on such endeavors. On the other
hand, China recognizes the capabilities inherent in Western IW and
will think twice before engaging high tech opponents capable of
winning in strategy with battle. However, the PLA was very impressed
with Serbia's ability to withstand NATO's air attack. It demonstrated
the power of the will of the people to the Chinese leadership and
buttressed their belief in the power and capabilities of a People's
War, a theory that now has a high technology application.
There are also plenty of weaknesses in the Chinese approach to
IW, more than the number of strengths at the present time. This
paper tried to highlight strengths and ways Chinese thinking differs
from U.S. thinking. But the cornerstone of IW's operational theory
involves preserving the integrity and stability of the infrastructure
of one's side to perform IW functions. Infrastructure stability
is as important as the survivability of units in the information
age. And it is in the infrastructure where China's biggest weakness
can be found. They are increasing their telecommunications industry
rapidly, however, and laying a joint civil-military information
infrastructure. China has been able to learn from the mistakes of
others, and may soon become an IW force with which to reckon. IW
has allowed China to skip over some technological developments,
to use discoveries in the West to save time and money or to "borrow
a ladder to climb the tree." In addition, some Chinese
theorists believe that to stray too far from the accepted definition
of IW worldwide will not help China discuss the issues with other
nations. But in the end, China will develop innovative, indirect
IW strategies that do not imitate the moves of others. The important
point to note is that it will be an IW force very different from
other IW forces in the world.
Regarding the impact of Chinese IW theory and practice on U.S.
armed forces, there are also several important points for consideration.
First, the Chinese approach to information operations is dictated
by the logic of the dialectic, the living interaction of point and
counterpoint [thesis and antithesis] that inevitably produces a
synthesis.The dialectical approach offers a unique way of visualizing
and accounting for the use or misuse of information technologies
and weapons. To understand this approach, America should train some
of its specialists to think and analyze problems in this manner.
Since Russia is also an adherent of the dialectic, two birds can
be killed with one stone.
Second, the increased sophistication of the Chinese approach (knowledge
warfare, temporal-spatial analysis, etc.) and emphasis on diverse
aspects (confrontation of command and control, belief and perception
systems, etc.) of IW cover areas scarcely ever discussed by U.S.
analysts. This is particularly true for the multifaceted aspects
of military art and important subsets such as the 36 stratagems
of war, as just one example. Study of the Chinese context and military
strategies for information warfare may help avoid or deter future
conflict by exposing areas of potential tension, misunderstanding,
or even overt aggressiveness.Finally, study of the Chinese approach
may assist U.S. policy makers in better understanding Chinese policy
in other military-political realms.This understanding could range
from Chinese responses to Russian IW declarations presented to the
United Nations, or to the strategic context for any potential conflict
There are other IW areas in which China, like Russia, can be expected
to excel during the coming decade.From a purely academic point of
view, China possesses a wealth of scientists and technicians who
specialize in engineering and mathematical subjects that collectively
form the intellectual basis for conducting information warfare.By
function, the mathematicians can focus on preparing the algorithms
necessary to produce sound software programs, and the academicians
and theoreticians can develop innovative approaches to the study
of information warfare by means of their dialectical thought process.Traditionally,
just as they excel at the complex game of "go," the Chinese excel
in the formulation of strategic concepts to include long term thought
processes of point and counterpoint or anticipated challenge and
response. Those subjects receive less attention among societies
that are increasingly convinced of the inevitability of lasting
In addition, Chinese specialists are devoting
enormous efforts to "soft" or "asymmetric" approaches to confuse
or thwart the potential information warfare threat that China envisions
from abroad.This search is currently focusing on methods for influencing
command and control apparatuses and various anti-reconnaissance
and anti-cruise missile tactics.This emphasis was clearly evident
in the Chinese analysis of the Kosovo crisis. The ability of the
Serbs to maintain the mobility of their air defense weapons and
to turn their radars on and off abruptly and for short periods was
the sort of asymmetric response that sharply reduced potential Serb
losses to attacking NATO forces.
The Chinese military is also gradually accumulating expertise in
their study of the impact of information warfare on military art
and what has come to be known as the cognitive aspect of information
warfare. Chinese military scientists have studied the ability of
information warfare to affect the values, emotions, and beliefs
of target audiences, traditional psychological warfare theory, but
with IW applications.
Thus, for the U.S. military, a force focused on information superiority,
dominant maneuver, digitalization, and information assurance, a
study of Chinese IW methods would be not only advisable but required.
Such a study might uncover inherent IW weaknesses in the U.S. system
when analyzed through the thought process of another ideological
prism or framework. The absolute worse mistake that America can
make is to use its own process for uncovering vulnerabilities exclusively,
since there are other problem-solving schemes (the dialectic) available.
As the Chinese have said, losers in IW will not just be those with
backward technology. They will also be those who lack command thinking
and the ability to apply strategies. It is worth the time of the
U.S. analytical community to analyze IW strategies and tactics from
all points of view, not just the empirical U.S. approach.
The author does
not speak Chinese. He relied on translations from the Foreign Broadcast
Information System (FBIS) and on personal interviews conducted with
the assistance of a translator while in China. For articles on Chinese
IW written by Chinese language and subject matter experts, see the
excellent work ofJames Mulvenon and Michael Pillsbury in particular.
of IW's operational theory, to some Chinese theorists, involves
preserving the integrity and stability of the infrastructure of
one's side to perform these functions. Infrastructure stability
is more important than survivability of units. See Wang Jianghuai
and Lin Dong, "Viewing Our Army's Quality Building from the Perspective
of What Information Warfare Demands," Beijing Jiefangjun Bao, 3
March 1998, p. 6 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web
site on 16 March 1998.
 Shen Weiguang,
"Focus of Contemporary World Military Revolution-Introduction to
research in IW," Jiefangjun Bao, 7 November 1995, p. 6 as translated
and reported in FBIS-CHI-95-239, 13 December 1995, pp. 22-27.
Wang and Lin,
"Viewing our Army's Quality."
Bill Gertz, "Hackers
Linked to China Stole Documents from Los Alamos," The Washington
Times, 3 August 2000, p. 1.
 Wang and Lin.
 Shen Weiguang,
"Checking Information Warfare-Epoch Mission of Intellectual Military,"
Jiefangjun Bao, 2 February 1999, p. 6 as translated and downloaded
from the FBIS web site on 17 February 1999.
Li Yinnina, in
Huang Youfu, Zhang Bibo, and Hang Song, "New Subjects of Study Brought
about by Information War-Summary of Army Command Academy Seminar
on 'Confrontation of Command' on the Information Battlefield" Jiefangjun
Bao, 11 November 1997, p. 6 as translated and reported in FBIS-CHI-97-354,
insert date 23 December 1997.
 Hai Lung and
Chang Feng, "Chinese Military Studies Information Warfare," Kuang
Chiao Ching (Hong Kong), 16 January, 1996, No. 280, pp. 22, 23 as
translated and published by FBIS-CHI-96-035, 21 February 1996, pp.
"Meeting the Challenge of Information Warfare," Zhongguo Junshi
Kexue (China Military Science), 20 February 1995, No 1, pp. 8-18
as translated and reported in FBIS-CHI-95-129, 6 July 1995, pp.
"New Form of People's Warfare," Jiefangjun Bao, 11 June 1996, p.
6 as translated and reported in FBIS-CHI-96-159, insert date 16
 Shen, "Focus
of Contemporary World Military Revolution.".
"Special Means of Warfare in the Information Age: Strategic Information
Warfare," Jianchuan Zhishi, 30 June 1999 as translated and downloaded
from the FBIS web site on 27 July 1999.
and Guo Ruobing, [no title provided], Beijing Zhongguo Guofang Keji
X, September-December 1996, No 5/6, pp. 90-93 as translated and
reported in FBIS-CHI-98-029, insert date 30 January 1998.
Defense News, 24 January 2000, provided by Mr. William Belk via
e-mail. Mr. Belk is the head of a skilled U.S. reservist group that
Xu Jiwu and
Xiao Xinmin, "Civil Networks Used in War," Beijing Jiefangjun Bao
(Internet version-www) in Chinese, 1 July 2000, p. 2 as translated
and downloaded by FBIS on 3 July 2000.
Defense News, 15 December 1999, p. 1, provided by Mr. Belk via e-mail.
10 December 1999, provided by Mr. Belk via e-mail..
Defense News, 26 January 2000, provided by Mr. Belk via e-mail.
"PRC Army Pays
Attention to the Role of Network Warfare," Hong Kong Zhongguo Tonnxun
She, 0947 GMT, 6 August 2000, as translated and downloaded from
the FBIS web site on 6 August 2000.
and their meanings were downloaded from http://www.chinastrategies.com,
while the information age interpretation is from the author of this
 Qi Jianguo,
"Thought on Internet War," Beijing Jiefangjun Bao, Internet version,
16 May 2000, p. 6 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web
site on 16 May 2000.
"Symposium on Challenge of Knowledge Revolution for the Military,"
Jiefangjun Bao, 5 January 1999, p. 6 as translated and downloaded
from the FBIS web site on 27 January 1999.
 Shen, "Focus
of Contemporary World Military Revolution."
 Li Yinnina,
in Huang Youfu, Zhang Bibo, and Hang Song, "New Subjects of Study."
 Cui Yonggui,
in Zhang Guoyu's "Symposium on Challenge of Knowledge Revolution
for the Military," Jiefangjun Bao, 5 January 1999, p. 6 as translated
and downloaded from the FBIS website on 27 January 1999.
Wang Yulin, and Zhao Wenxiang, "Bringing Internet Warfare into the
Military System is of Equal Significance with Land, Sea, and Air
Power," Beijing Jiefangjun Bao, 11 November 1997, p. 7 as translated
and downloaded from the FBIS web site on 11 November 1999.
of Contemporary World Military Revolution."
Hai and Chang,
"Chinese Military Studies Information Warfare"
"Exploring and Analyzing Characteristics of Information Warfare,"
Jiefangjun Bao, 30 January 1996, p. 6 as translated and reported
in FBIS-CHI-96-030, 13 February 1996, pp. 21, 22.
Su Enze, "Logical
Concept of Information Warfare," Jiefangjun Bao, 11 June 1996, p.
6 as translated and reported in FBIS-CHI-96-135, insert date 15
"New Military Revolution in the World, 'Subduing Enemy Force without
Battle' and Informationized Warfare," Zhongguo Junshi Kexue, 4 May
1999, pp. 60-63 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web site
on 23 August 1999.
Joint Pub 3-13,
Joint Doctrine for Information Operations, 9 October 1998, p. I-9.
Ibid., p. I-11.
[no title provided], Beijing Zhongguo Guofang Keji X, September-December
1996, No 5/6, pp. 87-89 as translated and reported in FBIS-CHI-98-029,
insert date 30 January 1998.
Yang and Guo,
[no title provided]
[no title provided], Beijing Zhongguo Dianzi Bao [China Electronics
News], speech presented 15 September 1997 but printed on 24 October
1998, as translated and reported in FBIS-CHI-98-012, insert date
13 January 1998.
"A Preliminary Analysis of IW," Beijing Zhongguo Junshi Kexue, No
4, 20 November 1997, pp 102-111 as translated and downloaded from
the FBIS web site on 20 November 1997,
Wang and Lin,
"Viewing Our Army's Quality."
 Shen, "Checking
"On IW, Digital Battlefields," Beijing Zhongguo Junshi Kexue, 20
February 1999, pp. 46-51 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS
web site on 17 July 1999.
Xie Guang," Wars under High Tech," Beijing Renmin
Ribao, 27 December 1999, p. 7 as translated and downloaded from
the FBIS web page on 30 January 1999.
[no title provided], Hong Kong Hsien-Tai Chun-Shih (Conmilit), 11
April 2000, pp. 19-21 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS
web site on 3 May 2000.
Yuan, "On IW,
in Zhang Guoyu's "Symposium on Challenge of Knowledge Revolution
for the Military," Jiefangjun Bao, 5 January 1999, p. 6 as translated
and downloaded from the FBIS website on 27 January 1999.
"Thought on Internet War," Beijing Jiefangjun Bao, Internet version,
16 May 2000, p. 6 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web
site on 16 May 2000.
 Shen, [no
"Facing the Future Information War," Jingji Cankao Bao, 15 October
1999, p. 5 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web site on
29 November 1999.
"New Breakthrough in the Study of Information Warfare," Jiefangjun
Bao, 21 July 1998 p. 6 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS
web site on 12 August 1998.
Holds Training Course on Information War," Beijing Xinhua, 22 May
2000 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web site on 22 May
to Foster Talent for High-Tech Warfare," Xinhua, 17 November 1999
as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web site on 17 November
"PLA Sets Up Four New Academies," Beijing Xinhua, 2 July 1999 as
translated and downloaded from the FBIS web site on 7 July 1999.
Personnel for Information Warfare," Hong Kong Tai Yang Pao 15 September
1999, p. A17 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web site
on 15 September 1999.
Guo Hao, "Chinese
Military Prepares to Fight Digital Warfare," Kong Kong Kuang Chiao
Ching, 16 March, 2000, No 330 pp 19-21 as translated and downloaded
from the FBIS web site on 16 March 2000.
Xi Qixin and
Zhao Yongxin, "Advancing Toward High Technology-High Ranking Military
Cadres Attending a Hi-Tech Training Course," Xinhua Domestic Service,
13 June 1999 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web site
on 15 June 1999.
 Zhang Zhenzhong
and Chang Jianguo, "Train Talented People at Different Levels for
Information Warfare," Jiefangjun Bao, 2 February 1999 p. 6 as translated
and downloaded from the FBIS web site on 10 February 1999.
"PRC Senior Military Cadres Trained on High Technology," Xinhua
Domestic Service, 11 April 2000 as translated and downloaded from
the FBIS web site on 11 April 2000.
Says the Navy Engineering College is Aimed at Developing New Naval
Military Talent,"Xinhua Hong Kong, 7 August 1999 as translated and
downloaded from the FBIS web site on 26 August 1999.
"Information Warfare and Training of Skilled Commanders," Jiefangun
Bao, 26 December 1995 p. 6 as translated in FBIS document FBIS-CHI-96-036,
26 December 1995.
"Let Training Lean Close to Information Warfare," Jiefangjun Bao,
12 November 1996 p. 6 as translated and reported in FBIS-CHI-96-230,
inserted on 29 November 1996.
Zhang and Chang,
"Train Talented People."
Yang Jie, and Zhang Guoyu, "Let Information Warfare Training Rule
the Training Sites: Practice and Reflections from the First All-Army
Collective Training Session for Division and Brigade Chiefs of Staff
in Information Warfare Theory," Jiefangjun Bao, 13 July 1999 p.
6 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web site on 8 August
and Chen Hui, "Chief of Staff Fu Quanyuou on High-tech Military
Training," Xinhua Domestic Service, 0240 GMT, 16 October 1999 as
translated and downloaded from the FBIS web site on 16 October 1999.
"Stand in the Forefront of the New Military Revolution in Deepening
Troop training through Science and Technology," Jiefangjun Bao,
4 April 2000 p. 6 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web
site on 6 April 2000.
"Information Warfare in the Kosovo Conflict," Beijing Jiefangjun
Bao, 25 May 1999,p. 6 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS
web site on 23 June 1999.
page, The Liberation Army Daily, 27 July 1999, report obtained via
e-mail from Mr. William Belk,1 June 2000.
Warfare in the Kosovo Conflict"
Su Size, "Kosovo
War and New Military Theory," Beijing Jiefangjun Bao, 1 June 1996,
as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web page on 1 July 1999.
 Jia Weidong,
"Asymmetrical War and Smart War-The Developing Trends of Future
War from a Kosovo Perspective," Beijing Jiefangjun Bao, 17 April
1999, p. 6 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web site on
10 May 1999.
"A Monopoly on the Asymmetrical Battlefield," Beijing Jiefangjun
Bao,23 November 1999, p. 6 as translated and downloaded from the
FBIS web site on 26 December 1999.
Hong Kong Service, 0527 GMT 24 May 1999 as translated and downloaded
from the FBIS web page on 26 May 1999.
 Sun, Yang,
and Zhang, "Let Information Warfare Training Rule."
1508 GMT, 22 October 1997, as downloaded in translated form from
the FBIS WebPages.
News, 1057 GMT, 27 December 1997, as downloaded in translated form
from the FBIS WebPages.
In July 1999
the Theater of Operations stated that it had built the first theater
command automation system. The system combines command, control,
intelligence, communications countermeasures and joint command and
management functions to allow ground, naval and air forces to share
information at the theater, army, division, and regimental levels.
This "God of Field Operations" reportedly combines information processing
with data facsimile, terminal processing, and GPS imaging. See "Guangzhou
Theater of Operation Builds Army's First Command Automation System,"Beijing
Zhongguo Xinwen She, 26 July 1999 as translated and downloaded from
the FBIS web page on 10 August 1999.
Domestic Service, 1148 GMT, 26 October 1998, as translated and downloaded
from the FBIS web page.
and Zhang Jianjun, "General Staff Department Holds All-Army Hi-Tech
Training Exercise," Beijing Jiefangjun Bao, 2 October 1998, p. 1
as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web pages.
Xinwen She, 1309 GMT, 26 October 1998, as translated and downloaded
from the FBIS web page on 3 November 1998.
Yang Hong and
Zhou Meng, "Beijing Military Region Conducts Computer Exercise,"
Beijing Jiefangjun Bao, Internet version, 8 November 1999, as translated
and downloaded from the FBIS web site on 9 November 1999.
Xinwen She, 1339 GMT, 6 November 1999, as translated and downloaded
from the FBIS web site on 9 November 1999.
Domestic Service, 0905 GMT, 15 October 1999 as translated and downloaded
from the FBIS web site on 15 October 1999.
"The Chinese Armed Forces Advance toward the Virtual Battlefield."
Beijing Jiefangjun Bao, 24 November 1999, p. 5 as translated and
downloaded from the FBIS web site on 24 November 1999.
and Wan Yuan, "Chengdu Military Region Conducts Long-Range Confrontational
Exercises on Internet," Beijing Jiefangjun Bao, Internet version,
10 July 2000 as translated and downloaded from the FBIS web site
on 10 July 2000.
Zhang Shusong, and Wang Yongqing, "Guangzhou Military Region Regiment
Steps Up Capability to Fight Information Warfare," Beijing Jiefangjun
Bao, Internet version, 31 July 2000, p. 2 as translated and downloaded
from the FBIS web site on 31 July 2000.
Lin, "Viewing Our Army's."