What does China really want?

Via strategic doyen Ross Babbage, Chief Executive Officer of Strategic Forum Pty Ltd and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) in Washington DC. Dr Babbage is also Managing Director of Strategy International, a national security consulting and educational services company. Dr Babbage formerly held the position as Head of Strategic Analysis in the Office of National Assessments and Assistant Secretary for ANZUS and then Force Development in the Department of Defence. He has also been an advisor to various government ministers and departments:

What does China want?

The Chinese Communist Party appears to have four primary goals in its conduct of political warfare operations. Xi Jinping’s first and most important goal is the maintenance of uncontested Communist Party rule. To this end the regime employs sophisticated political warfare operations to suppress domestic dissent and reinforce Party loyalty as well as to undermine China’s international rivals.

Second, the regime aims to restore China to what it sees as its rightful place as the preponderant power. To make this “China dream” come true, the Chinese Communist Party employs a modernised version of the political warfare used by Mao Zedong in his revolutionary war campaigns. It uses proven methods to penetrate deeply into the opponent’s camps, gather intelligence, plant disinformation, recruit sympathisers and spies, sow disruption, undermine morale, and seize effective control of strategically important infrastructure.

The third primary goal is to build China’s influence and prestige so as to be respected as equal, if not superior, to the United States. As Michael Collins, the CIA’s deputy assistant director for the East Asia Mission Center stated: “At the end of the day, the Chinese fundamentally seek to replace the United States as the leading power in the world.” In pursuit of this goal, Beijing conducts numerous political warfare and other operations so as to push the United States and its democratic allies from their predominant role in the Western Pacific and Eastern Indian Ocean and also to build strategic strength in hitherto non-aligned parts of Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America. A particular priority for Beijing is to dominate the geographic approaches to China, which it has redefined over the last two decades to include most of the Western Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, much of the Indian Ocean, and most of Central Asia. The regime’s operations within these regions routinely defy historical precedents, as well as international maritime and airspace law.

The CCP’s fourth strategic goal is to export its model of tight authoritarian political control coupled with a managed but relatively open economy. In his address to the 19th Party Congress in October 2017, Xi Jinping argued that the Chinese regime’s approach to governance and development was a far more attractive option to that offered by the liberal democracies of the West. He stated that China had “blazed a new trail for other developing countries to achieve modernization . . . It offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence.” Part of Xi’s vision is the fostering of a growing group of like-minded revisionist countries that, over time, may constitute an international partnership, alliance, or even a China-centred empire.

Who is most at risk?

Countries with the following characteristics would appear to be particularly vulnerable to authoritarian political warfare operations—those with:

• A location on the periphery of authoritarian states that are considered by them to have high political, geostrategic, or military importance.

• Large diasporas and deep cultural and other ties with the authoritarian state.

• No strong cohesive culture drawn from religion, national identity, or shared history.

• A dispersed, parochial, and poorly informed population served by weak or compromised media organisations.

• Weak political, economic, and social leaderships that are vulnerable to foreign blandishments, bribery and corruption.

• Small, relatively poor economies possessing limited prospects that are either heavily dependent on investment and trade from an authoritarian state or prepared to accept such a situation.

• Weak systems of border control permitting significant numbers of foreigners of indeterminate backgrounds to reside in the country legally or illegally.

• Few legal protections and a criminal justice system with compromisedindependence.

• Weak or seriously neglected political, economic, and security ties to strong democratic states.

Drawing on these observations, it is possible to make broad-brush assessments of the current and potential vulnerability of countries and regions to authoritarian state political warfare operations. Identifying the key variables also highlights many of the issues that national leaders need to address should they wish to strengthen their capabilities to resist the political warfare campaigns of authoritarian states and strengthen their national resilience.

Recognise anyone? Much more at the piece.

Comments

  1. I think at this stage CPC has only one goal: to survive

    the imminent and unavoidable turn of economic gradient will happen soon, and gradient is the only thing that matters to people. If things stop getting better people will rise up

    • This is what facial recognition, social credit, and all the other totalitarian 2.0 systems are all about.
      Being able to suppress dissent even when things get really bad. Remember this is the party that starved 30 million of it own people as it continued to export grain and managed to stay in power. Do not under estimate what they are capable of. They will stop at nothing to remain in power.

      • yeah, that credit system (aside from being gamed traditionally via bribes) simply doesn’t work – like many CCP systems. It also looks like we’re pulling our folk at various uni from these projects, cos US. They’ll never finish a project this size without global community. fail as usual.

      • china
        we are indoctrinated into the belief that we have democracy the best system and it’s meaningless to fight for anything else

  2. China is building coal power stations in the third world while shutting down coal power stations at home:

    https://www.npr.org/2019/04/29/716347646/why-is-china-placing-a-global-bet-on-coal

    One reason is to offload coal overcapacity as China cracks down on the polluting industry at home.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/06/china-is-massively-betting-on-coal-outside-its-shores–even-as-investment-falls-globally.html

    It will be fun when the electricity buyers in the third world stop buying electricity from coal power stations – either due to Venezuela-style bankruptcy or due to solar panels becoming cheap enough.

  3. To remain here and watch my amazingly wonderful homeland very quickly turn into a pile of dung is just too painful. I love Australia and to bare witness to its demise could turn me into a bitter ans cynical old man. I won’t allow that to happen to me, I’m packing my bags and have an escape plan, a process that has begun to take from Australia what I can while returning as little as possible, just like all the other scumbags that inhabit the joint.

  4. – All was going very well – until the Donald appeared and had the testosterone to make the call.

  5. “The CCP’s fourth strategic goal is to export its model of tight authoritarian political control coupled with a managed but relatively open economy. In his address to the 19th Party Congress in October 2017, Xi Jinping argued that the Chinese regime’s approach to governance and development was a far more attractive option to that offered by the liberal democracies of the West. He stated that China had “blazed a new trail for other developing countries to achieve modernization . . . It offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence.” Part of Xi’s vision is the fostering of a growing group of like-minded revisionist countries that, over time, may constitute an international partnership, alliance, or even a China-centred empire.

    Ugh, this is a bit annoying….it neglects that China wouldn’t be what it is today had the Western nations not handed over their industrial bases for cheaper trinkets and cheap debt/bonds to do it – Xi has framed it as if China is mostly responsible for its rapid development, when it is actually not.

    Hence, it also mis-sells the potential to other nations as a development model: “You can do it to, and without Europe and the USA et al”…but they can’t, because they need to be able to entice industrial production via cheaper labour, but the Western nations have already given their industrial bases to China, so where are the new industrial bases to pinch going to come from? Perhaps, ironically, from China?!

    My 2c

    • John Howards Bowling Coach

      It is a reality, as you point out, that China as it is now, was created by the west in their false belief that the collapse of the USSR would lead to it being rolled into Europe. The reality is that many parts of the world have always needed a strongman dictator style leader and this has often been the case for Russia, and almost always been the case for China. The mess in the Middle East is a tale of what happens when the vacuum exists after the dictatorship is toppled.

      Back to China though, the west as you say transferred our money and manufacturing capacity to China who have always been greedy and grabby. They never became a global roamer like the Dutch, British, French, Portuguese, Spaniards etc because they were and are so busy trying to deal with domestic issues, namely the fact they are essentially an unmanageable rabble when given any freedoms, that they can’t get too far from their own shores, until the discovered their extraordinary ability to export debt, and corruption.
      So the west has passed our factories to China, but that is only as good as the primacy of the goods they turn out, cheap is great as long as it is up to date cheap. What happens when the west decided to return to owning their own factories in the 3rd world (China does not allow that) or the technology transfer stops?

      China can be sunk a lot easier than many people believe, they know it, and it is why they are doing all they can to extend their sphere of influence. China do a great job at moving into other 3rd world nations because it is their own realm. Even the best and most developed parts of China are a short throw from a poor developed region, they compare and contrast Shanghai and New York, it gives them a sense of national pride, but New York is not 50klm from fields tilled by peasants with Oxen is it? China is not the USA. Chinese do well in Africa for example as they have done in South East Asia because a lot of the new rich or hopeful rich moving to open business in these frontiers were born peasants in a very basic village, so it’s not that far outside their comfort zone.

      It will be very interesting to see how China reacts as their new best friends start to steal their business base by allowing western companies to open their own factories.

  6. • A location on the periphery of authoritarian states that are considered by them to have high political, geostrategic, or military importance.

    Yes, this describes Australia

    • Large diasporas and deep cultural and other ties with the authoritarian state.

    Yes again.

    • No strong cohesive culture drawn from religion, national identity, or shared history.

    Nope. This ain’t us, and its none of the Anglosphere. We are far too culturally aggressive and so are our Anglosphere brothers and sisters.

    • A dispersed, parochial, and poorly informed population served by weak or compromised media organisations.

    Nope, and it actually pains me to admit this but Australian’s are actually really quite well informed on politics, and our media organisations are surprisingly robust. This publication is case in point.

    • Weak political, economic, and social leaderships that are vulnerable to foreign blandishments, bribery and corruption.

    Now this is getting closer to the bone…..

    • Small, relatively poor economies possessing limited prospects that are either heavily dependent on investment and trade from an authoritarian state or prepared to accept such a situation.

    Nope, not us, we don’t have “limited prospects” and as you guys are fond of stating our supposed dependence on China is a convenient lie.

    • Weak systems of border control permitting significant numbers of foreigners of indeterminate backgrounds to reside in the country legally or illegally.

    Nope, what we are seeing isn’t weakness but a definite choice….and that choice is hyper-immigration. Populate or perish is quite literally the guiding light for the Australian political class.

    • Few legal protections and a criminal justice system with compromisedindependence.

    Nope.

    • Weak or seriously neglected political, economic, and security ties to strong democratic states.

    Absolutely nope.

    • +1

      We look at these points and think they describe us, but our context is a relative measure of how much better we know those things could be. Compared to, to use the colloquialism, “shithole countries”, we’re doing OK.

    • If you’re talking Chinese restaurants, I think they’re the clear victor. There’s one in every city in the world (several in most). Chicken chow mein, sweet and sour pork, prawn crackers. What would the world be like without it 🙂

      • John Howards Bowling Coach

        Dominic, it is much more than that, try to think of a major City in the world without a Chinatown? It is a glaring example of how they can never assimilate and never have/done. Look at Malaysia for example, 21% ethnic Chinese, many generations later they despise the Malay, they have their own schools, use their own language, economy, and if not for the strength of the Muslim leadership of people like Dr M they would have controlled that nation long ago with the native population nothing but slaves. Not saying I am a fan of Islam, but it might be the only thing that held back the tide. The point being that after a couple of hundred years the Chinese in Malaysia are very Chinese, they will tell you they are Chinese and not Malaysian. It’s not a racist criticism from me, just an observation of the nature of their culture.