E-raamat: Active Defense: China's Military Strategy since 1949

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What changes in China’s modern military policy reveal about military organizations and strategy

Since the 1949 Communist Revolution, China has devised nine different military strategies, which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) calls “strategic guidelines.” What accounts for these numerous changes? Active Defense offers the first systematic look at China’s military strategy from the mid-twentieth century to today. Exploring the range and intensity of threats that China has faced, M. Taylor Fravel illuminates the nation’s past and present military goals and how China sought to achieve them, and offers a rich set of cases for deepening the study of change in military organizations.

Drawing from diverse Chinese-language sources, including memoirs of leading generals, military histories, and document collections that have become available only in the last two decades, Fravel shows why transformations in military strategy were pursued at certain times and not others. He focuses on the military strategies adopted in 1956, 1980, and 1993—when the PLA was attempting to wage war in a new kind of way—to show that China has pursued major change in its strategic guidelines when there has been a significant shift in the conduct of warfare in the international system and when China’s Communist Party has been united.

Delving into the security threats China has faced over the last seven decades, Active Defense offers a detailed investigation into how and why states alter their defense policies.


"This terrific book makes an important contribution to the literature on both China's military behavior and the more general issue of how states' militaries evolve to meet the threats before them. The theoretical argument is simple, yet innovative, and the empirical evidence is novel and compellingly presented. It is certain to become a classic."--David M. Edelstein, Georgetown University "Active Defense advances our knowledge of the key drivers behind China's military strategy during the last seventy years. Informative and lucid, this book provides new insights into how a great power adjusts its military strategy in response to shifts in warfare and how elite politics influences strategic execution. This is the most important study of Chinese national security to appear in a decade."--Minxin Pei, Claremont McKenna College "In Active Defense, Fravel's explanation for three major changes in China's military strategy since 1949 is an impressive achievement. He deftly draws on a wide range of literature about influences on military strategy and taps newly available sources of evidence. The result is a book that is sure to be widely cited."--Avery Goldstein, University of Pennsylvania "This is a truly outstanding book--Fravel contributes significantly to our understanding of the evolution of China's military strategy, and offers insightful theoretical arguments about civil-military relations and changes in the military strategy of late developers. Active Defense will be of great interest to scholars of security studies, Chinese international policy, and international relations more broadly."--Charles Glaser, George Washington University "Active Defense is a brilliant tour de force on the sources of stasis and change in Chinese military strategy. Engaging and highly original, this is a must-read for scholars, analysts, policymakers, and anyone seeking to understand the future of international politics."--Caitlin Talmadge, Georgetown University "Active Defense is a major contribution to our understanding of Chinese military doctrine. Anyone interested in the implications of China's rise should read this book."--Thomas J. Christensen, author of The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power "Active Defense confirms Fravel's standing as one of the top experts on China's national security strategy. His mastery of history, political science theory, and military doctrine is extraordinary. Given growing Sino-American competition, this is a timely work, relevant to policymakers, strategists, and scholars alike."--Karl Eikenberry, Stanford University and former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan

M. Taylor Fravel is the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and a member of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Strong Borders, Secure Nation (Princeton). Twitter @fravel