China · Information operations · Information Warfare

Chinese Military Diplomacy, 2003–2016: Trends and Implications


Executive Summary

China is placing increasing emphasis on military diplomacy to advance its foreign policy objectives and shape its security environment.

■ Military diplomacy is part of broader Chinese foreign policy efforts to create a favorable international image, develop soft power, and shape international discourse. Other objectives include shaping China’s security environment, collecting intelligence, and learning from advanced militaries.

■ The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) seeks to forward strategic and operational goals through a variety of interactions with foreign military partners, including senior-level visits, security dialogues, nontraditional security cooperation, military exercises, functional exchanges, and port calls.

■ Chinese security cooperation also includes arms sales (conducted by state-owned arms manufacturers), internal security assistance (provided by the Ministry of State Security and Ministry of Public Security), and advice on Internet censorship and control.

Military diplomacy is subordinate to and intended to serve national foreign policy objectives, which determine the relative priority the PLA places on regions and individual countries.

■ Military diplomacy is managed in a top-down manner, with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee dictating broad foreign policy goals and the Central Military Commission (CMC) determining specific activities for various parts of the PLA.

■ The goal of building stronger bilateral relations with key partners means that the PLA must adapt its planned program of bilateral military activities to accommodate the preferences and constraints of its foreign partners.

■ Efforts to shape the security environment can include concealing or downplaying specific military capabilities, highlighting the contributions a stronger PLA can make to regional and global security, and displaying capabilities to deter or intimidate potential adversaries. Since 2010, shaping efforts have placed greater emphasis on displaying capabilities rather than concealing them. Most PLA diplomatic activity consists of senior-level meetings carried out by the Defense Minister, the Chief of General Staff (now Chief of the Joint Staff), and the Deputy Chief of General Staff (now Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff) who handles foreign affairs and intelligence.

■ Senior-level meetings accounted for 83 percent of Chinese military diplomatic activity from 2003 to 2016. China views these meetings as useful for building bilateral relations and providing high-level buy-in for a broader program of military-to-military activities.

■ The number of meetings fluctuates in conjunction with the Chinese 5-year political cycle, with visits lowest in years when the CCP changes political and military leaders at a National Party Congress (2002, 2007, 2012). ■ Since mid-2010, there has been a significant decline in overseas visits by top PLA leaders. This has been partially offset by the willingness of other countries to ignore protocol and visit China without reciprocal visits from their PLA counterparts. ■ Most Chinese military diplomacy is bilateral, but the PLA now participates in a range of multilateral meetings, conferences, exercises, and competitions. The PLA engages in nontraditional security cooperation with a range of partners to demonstrate that a stronger PLA can play a positive regional security role. ■ Most PLA bilateral and multilateral exercises, functional exchanges, and port calls are focused on humanitarian assistance/disaster relief and other nontraditional security activities. Some PLA assets, such as the Peace Ark hospital ship, are specifically devoted to these activities. ■ Since late 2008, the PLA Navy (PLAN) has maintained a constant presence in the Gulf of Aden to conduct counterpiracy operations. The vessels have also conducted port calls, supported the evacuation of Chinese citizens from Libya and Yemen, and assisted in the disposal of Syrian chemical weapons.

■ Since late 2008, the PLA Navy (PLAN) has maintained a constant presence in the Gulf of Aden to conduct counterpiracy operations. The vessels have also conducted port calls, supported the evacuation of Chinese citizens from Libya and Yemen, and assisted in the disposal of Syrian chemical weapons.

■ Most PLA bilateral and multilateral exercises, functional exchanges, and port calls are focused on humanitarian assistance/disaster relief and other nontraditional security activities. Some PLA assets, such as the Peace Ark hospital ship, are specifically devoted to these activities.

 

 

■ Since mid-2010, there has been a significant decline in overseas visits by top PLA leaders. This has been partially offset by the willingness of other countries to ignore protocol and visit China without reciprocal visits from their PLA counterparts.

■ Most Chinese military diplomacy is bilateral, but the PLA now participates in a range of multilateral meetings, conferences, exercises, and competitions. The PLA engages in

■ Most Chinese military diplomacy is bilateral, but the PLA now participates in a range of multilateral meetings, conferences, exercises, and competitions. The PLA engages in nontraditional security cooperation with a range of partners to demonstrate that a stronger PLA can play a positive regional security role.

■ Most PLA bilateral and multilateral exercises, functional exchanges, and port calls are focused on humanitarian assistance/disaster relief and other nontraditional security activities. Some PLA assets, such as the Peace Ark hospital ship, are specifically devoted to these activities.

 

Report: http://inss.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/stratperspective/china/ChinaPerspectives-11.pdf?ver=2017-07-17-153301-093

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