This monograph seeks to determine if China’s military has a “uniquely Chinese” flavor of operational art when compared to the United States. The study asserts the importance of history, specifically relating to China’s unique philosophical and military tradition, as a lens through which an increased understanding of modern People’s Liberation Army (PLA) operational art is achieved. The philosophical ideas present in Confucianism and Taoism bring clarity to contemporary PLA doctrine and activities. The study examines Chinese philosophical and military tradition, national strategy, and PLA doctrine in comparison to Western philosophy and US Joint doctrine to reveal uniquely Chinese concepts. Case studies then analyze PLA participation in United Nations Peacekeeping, PLA Navy anti-piracy operations and cyber activities to characterize operational art in practice. The study concludes that a unique Chinese flavor of operational art does in fact exist, and demonstrates the continuing influence of China’s philosophical and military traditions.
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