How would you define China's Warrior Ethos?

delft

Brigadier
I see nobody mentions the successful Chinese intervention in the Korean war about 60 years ago. While the British still delight in the honors won by regiments since the seventeenth century and worry about what will happen with that tradition while its army are reduced because of financial trouble, China will have its tradition dating from that war.
 

vesicles

Major
China is a messed up society since its birth, contradictory at every level. The general population is the most educated and the most uneducated in the world. The people are both most patriotic and least patriotic.
IMO, every society is as what you described. Can you find any major society that is uniformly educated, or uniformly patriotic? Hardly so. In WWII during Nazi German occupation, many nations had their patriots forming resistance fighting the Nazis to the end while many others tried their best to become friends with the Germans, hence a combination of patriotic and un-patriotic. Every society has a mix of all kinds of different traits, especially those large ones, like China. In the case of China and even the US, which incorporate so many different cultures, you are bound to find many "contradictory" traits.

Unlike other major civilizations, China was never really a violent culture. It's always about world peace and elevation of personal education.
Well, I have to say that the Chinese is a quite violent society. Your statement shows a serious lack of knowledge of Chinese history. If you look back on the Chinese history, it's filled with bloody conflicts, including bloody conquests and mass execution of POW's. Every change of dynasty has been accompanied by decades of bloody war. And in extreme case, hundreds of years continuing war. I would say that, out of 5000 years of Chinese civilization, the Chinese have spent half of that time fighting in wars. How do you think China got this big? No nation started out the size that China is now. It got to this size because of military conquests. The Spring and Autumn period in the Zhou dynasty was 400+ years of political/military struggle among hundreds of states while the Warring State period afterward was another 400+ years of continuing open war among teens of military states and warlords. Soon after Shi Huangdi unified China, another civil war broke out that led to the destruction of Qin dynasty and the establishment of Han dynasty. During Han dynasty, China had a series of major military conquests that led to the expansion of China to reach modern-day Afghanistan and central Asia on the West, Pacific Ocean on the East, Siberia on the North and Vietnam/Lao/Cambodia on the South, basically the most part of Asia belonged to China.

Then it lost some of the lands because of the decline of the Han dynasty and the subsequent rise of local cultures in those occupied lands, especially in the West. China then gained most of the land back in the Tang and Song dynasties, again through military conquest since no one will willingly yield their land to another civilization. China then lost some lands at the end of the Song dynasty. Mongols then, of course, gained a lot more land, including all of Asia and half of Europe. Of course, according to official Chinese history, the Mongolian empire is also part of China, the Yuan dynasty. Ming and Qing dynasties again saw some major military expansion in the West, Xinjiang and Tibet were mainly the result of those military conquests.

Many people in the West feel that China didn't conquer other nations because China has not conquered anything in the past couple hundred years. And this gives people an impression that China does not use its military a lot. However, the fact was China conquered HUGE amount of lands long long times ago. Ancient China was mostly located near the Central and Eastern end of the Yellow river, the size of a state in the US. And China grew to the current size through continuous military conquests. And since they have conquered pretty much everything they could see and touch, there was nothing left for them to conquer. To the ancient Chinese, they have conquered pretty much everything in the known world. They have reached the Siberia in the North, the desert in the West, and oceans in the East and South. Where else could they go? And unlike many other famous empires in the West, which conquered huge amount of land and only lost them all later on, China managed to hold on to most of its lands and integrate the people living there so effectively that most of them feel they are Chinese. So there was not many dramatic change in size of the Chinese territory later on.

China was the most developed civilization for the last few thousand years, there was law and order. Unlike Japan and Feudal Europe, no warriors or Samurais were needed. All disputes and violence were suppressed by the law and the political machine.
As I have pointed out above, warlord culture was not only present in China, but actually very prevalent. China spent 800+ years in the state of warlords in the Zhou dynasty. And warlords would appear again and again whenever old dynasty died and new dynasty was born. Most of the new dynasties were actually born from warlords in the old dynasties. And warlords were a huge factor in Chinese culture as late as 1940's

This is both good and bad for the country. In the modern time of integrated globe, this is a bad thing, because it is becoming more dog eat dog again, not different from jungle justice from few thousand years ago. This cultural tradition softened the people and makes it do nothing but just send out verbal complain, verbal condemnation at the worst. China's foreign affairs department is now nicknamed the complaining department.
Again, this is a completely wrong assessment of the Chinese culture. As I have described in painful detail, China does not have a "weak" history and is filled with bloody and violent conflict. As a matter of fact, Chinese history is written in blood. As a result, Chinese people are tough in terms of making hard decisions. China suffered over a million casualties in the Korean war. If any Western nation was in a similar boat as China was in the 1950's, they would have stopped the fighting and pulled out of Korea long ago because the casualties would simply be too unbearable for the public to take. Yet the Chinese kept fighting with the full support of the Chinese population back home. No one even thought about pulling out and people kept sending their own sons and husbands to the front willingly. This happened almost immediately after the Chinese civil war, which was after the WWII, which was after the Chinese revolution, which was after the two Opium wars. So pretty much the Chinese had been fighting wars non-stop since the 1840's. Until the beginning of the Korean war, China had lost close to half of its population to wars within 100 years. Can you imagine how many people that was in a nation the size of China?? Any nation with a questionable resolve would have cried out for help and run away long before that point. Yet, the whole population stood behind the govn't and continued fighting. Now, would you think a weak and wussy culture can do such thing?

This cultural tradition softened the people and makes it do nothing but just send out verbal complain, verbal condemnation at the worst. China's foreign affairs department is now nicknamed the complaining department.
So to word it a little more plainly, today's Chinese culture is a wussy culture, it could not and would not stand up for itself.
What do you do if you are the leader of China? Sending bombers out every time someone upsets you? What the Chinese are doing now is purely strategic. They know fully well that their economic and military strength do not allow them to do things in ways that the superpowers do. In order to get there, they need to develop their economy, which needs a peaceful environment. And now, everything they do is for this purpose, i.e. maintaining a peaceful environment both domestically and globally. Once they achieve their build-up, they will do thing differently.

To illustrate my point, I will give you two examples. First one: 1962 Sino-Indian border conflict. China and India had an argument about who should be the leader in Asia. To "teach the Indians a lesson", Chinese leaders ordered an "invasion" into India. Chinese PLA pushed 200 miles into India to teach the Indian a lesson, in the words of the Chinese leaders. then again, 1970's and 80's, China went into Vietnam, again to teach them a lesson. Nothing more, nothing less. In both cases, there was no actual gain involved, only to teach a lesson. Why? Because the strategic goal of China at that time was vastly different from the current goals of China. China was not planning any economic development during those times and was in a mood of dominating Asia. Since India and Vietnam were in their way, they acted to clear the road, so to speak. Thus, the Chinese are not afraid of playing hard-ball if it fits their strategic goals. And the current goal is the develop economy, any military operation would interfere with their goals, so they don't do it. Plain and simply. They are doing a lot of complaining not because they are weak and afraid of budding heads with people, but because they want to make money to fund their build-up.

So to word it a little more plainly, today's Chinese culture is a wussy culture, it could not and would not stand up for itself.
China would not stand for itself not because they are afraid. It's just the time is not right for them yet. A lion is the king the jungle. No one doubts that. But when the lion is still a cub, he better lay low and hide himself since a hyena or even a wild dog can kill him and eat him. A truly confident individual/culture knows when to lay low and when to stand up.
 
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ToxSic

New Member
China would not stand for itself not because they are afraid. It's just the time is not right for them yet. A lion is the king the jungle. No one doubts that. But when the lion is still a cub, he better lay low and hide himself since a hyena or even a wild dog can kill him and eat him. A truly confident individual/culture knows when to lay low and when to stand up.
And in addition, using the 'lion metaphor', even the king of the jungle in his prime must know to respect the elephants, stay away from the hippopotamuses, and aware of the crocodiles in the river - at least.
 

Equation

Lieutenant General
And in addition, using the 'lion metaphor', even the king of the jungle in his prime must know to respect the elephants, stay away from the hippopotamuses, and aware of the crocodiles in the river - at least.
...And stay away from poachers!
 

vesicles

Major
Talking about toughness of Chinese people and Chinese govn't, I think China is one of a few nations in the modern history to dare to initiate a war against an enemy who is at least equivalent or much stronger than itself. Note, I'm not talking about a nation that is defending itself against a coming attack, but someone who starts the attack. China is the only one that I am aware of in that category. In the Korean war, China decided to go up against a UN force that was way stronger than itself, not even considering the economic might of all the countries involved vs. China who almost completely lost its domestic economy through a century of wars. Then again, in 1962, China decided to attack India who was at least as strong as China at that time. In my opinion, daring to challenge someone their own size or even bigger shows some guts on China's part. None of the major Western powers has done anything close to that, meaning that none of the main Western powers has yet to challenge someone with comparable strength.
 

PhageHunter

New Member
One of the reason I think it was because China had noting to lose but everything to gain. When you were dirt poor, you wouldn't need to worry about too many things, just do it. The nomads were doing it for thousands of years.
However, if you look now China's hands are tied, even those tiny countries can take a piss on China.
 

advill

Junior Member
PhageHunter, I think you are naive & probably emotional in your last sentence about China. No one in Asia wants to "rock the boat", even Mrs Clinton and President Obama are cautious/diplomatic in their remarks about China during the recent conferences (APEC, ASEAN, East Asia). "Gung Ho" attitude do not solve problems whether it is from the Chinese or the US side. What are Chinese Warrior Ethos? To me it is the same as the other Warriors of the past, including Lt-Gen Patton, Clauwitz, Tokugawa, and several others from the West & East. It's a good thing the Civilian Governments are in control of their Military, less the "Warriors" take things in their own hands. This goes for China too.
 

montyp165

Junior Member
PhageHunter, I think you are naive & probably emotional in your last sentence about China. No one in Asia wants to "rock the boat", even Mrs Clinton and President Obama are cautious/diplomatic in their remarks about China during the recent conferences (APEC, ASEAN, East Asia). "Gung Ho" attitude do not solve problems whether it is from the Chinese or the US side. What are Chinese Warrior Ethos? To me it is the same as the other Warriors of the past, including Lt-Gen Patton, Clauwitz, Tokugawa, and several others from the West & East. It's a good thing the Civilian Governments are in control of their Military, less the "Warriors" take things in their own hands. This goes for China too.
There's a very strong reason why the strongest military powers in history always had civilian control over the military rather than the other way around, especially since it was the civilian economy that built up the basis for military strength to begin with. Even militarists in the west forget this point...
 

PhageHunter

New Member
May be you misunderstood me, or I wasn't good at developing my thought.
I am just pointing out to vesicle's examples on Chinese toughness weren't the best ones.
 

solarz

Brigadier
There's a very strong reason why the strongest military powers in history always had civilian control over the military rather than the other way around, especially since it was the civilian economy that built up the basis for military strength to begin with. Even militarists in the west forget this point...
Not the Mongols, or the Hun.

Medieval Kings and Knights are arguably more of a "warrior" caste than "civilian". Both Charlemagne and Richard the Lionheart were strong military powers.

Napoleon was a general and gained power through a military coup. He also conquered most of Europe. Same thing for Alexander the Great.

There were no civilians in Sparta.

Perhaps it should be more accurate to say that the distinction between "military" and "civilian" is a rather recent one.

May be you misunderstood me, or I wasn't good at developing my thought.
I am just pointing out to vesicle's examples on Chinese toughness weren't the best ones.
No, they were very good examples. Plenty of nations are dirt poor. You don't see Ethiopia or Somalia challenging the US, do you? The idea that the Chinese in the 50's and 60's had "nothing to lose" is ludicrous.
 
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