The "Three Warfares": PLA Soft Power Aspirations along the Cognitive Dimension
Kelshaw, Chris J.
Miller, Alice L.
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China’s sustained modernization effort across the branches of the PLA over the past 25 years has produced several innovations. Among them, in 2008, the U.S. Office of the Secretary Defense (OSD) in its annual report to Congress on China’s military power mentioned for the first time a new Chinese military concept called the “three warfares.” However, this and subsequent reports have offered little elaboration of the meaning and substance of the term. This thesis seeks to fill a gap in existing literature on this aspect of PLA modernization by offering a more comprehensive understanding and explanation of the “three warfares,” its origins, and its intended aims as a complement to PLA war fighting doctrine. It argues three points. First, the foundation of the PLA “three warfares” concept has roots in certain aspects of both Chinese and Western strategic thought. Second, the PLA desire to develop its “three warfares” concept is strongly influenced by Western views on information in war in general and by U.S. information operations doctrine and experiences in particular. And finally, the PLA sees its “three warfares” both as a complement to its warfighting capabilities and also as a militarized soft power component within a larger Chinese national strategy.
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