How would you define China's Warrior Ethos?

PhageHunter

New Member
Why would Ethiopia or Somalia attack US? There is nothing to gain for them.
If they attacked US, would you call them tough? Or ......

According to vesicle, going to a war with someone stronger is a sign of toughness;
then my point being that since right now China is challenged by their smaller neighbors does that mean China is weak?

The idea that the Chinese in the 50's and 60's had "nothing to lose" is ludicrous.
Ignore this if you couldn't agree on, merely an opinion.
 
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montyp165

Junior Member
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.
In the administrative sense it may be the case wrt the distinction being considered recent, but then again it is tied to the development of specific economic structures. The Romans and various Chinese dynasties are better examples of this than the Mongols and the Huns, and in terms of organizational sophistication and longevity it holds up better.
 

solarz

Brigadier
In the administrative sense it may be the case wrt the distinction being considered recent, but then again it is tied to the development of specific economic structures. The Romans and various Chinese dynasties are better examples of this than the Mongols and the Huns, and in terms of organizational sophistication and longevity it holds up better.
Right, but it bears mention that economic power is only recently able to transform quickly into military power, as technology makes much more difference in modern warfare than in ancient warfare.

Take China for example: throughout its millenia of history, it has been an economic powerhouse much more frequently than it has been a military powerhouse. In the Song and late-Qing Dynasties, its military capabilities were certainly not on par with the size of its economy.


phagehunter said:
Why would Ethiopia or Somalia attack US? There is nothing to gain for them.
If they attacked US, would you call them tough? Or ......

According to vesicle, going to a war with someone stronger is a sign of toughness;
then my point being that since right now China is challenged by their smaller neighbors does that mean China is weak?
The example of Ethiopia is hypothetical. If we suppose that Ethiopia's national interest depended on it coming to a military showdown with the US, would they dare take that route? I very much doubt it.

As for your idea that China is being challenged by its smaller neighbors, I think you have a lot to learn regarding what "Strength" really means. Strength does not mean being a bully or an imperialist. The ability for restraint is also a sign of strength.
 

vesicles

Major
According to vesicle, going to a war with someone stronger is a sign of toughness;
then my point being that since right now China is challenged by their smaller neighbors does that mean China is weak?


Ignore this if you couldn't agree on, merely an opinion.
I think you misunderstood my point. the premise of my examples was that China acts according to their strategic goals. That was my point in my original post and my later post was simply an elaboration of my original point. Before the 80's, China's goals were to dominate Asia. Then if India and Vietnam challenged China, it was natural for China to act accordingly. China did NOT attack India or went into Korea to show how tough they are. They had a clear strategic plan and did everything to fulfill that plan.

The current plan in China is completely different from what they had in the 50's and 60's. They want to develop their economy and THE thing that they don't want is their neighbors don't like them and don't want to do business with them. Further, ultimately, China also wants allies, just like the US has allies. Attacking whoever they want will not get them any allies. They want to be seen as responsible, not belligerent. And they certainly don't want to seen as a bully. So they don't want to attack the small nations, especially since none of them has done anything that warrant any military action.

The US did everything they could to avoid military confrontation during the Cuban missile crisis when the Soviets moved missiles to the door step of the US. To anyone, that would be considered as a declaration of war. Yet, the US political leadership decided to avoid open war with the Soviets. And now this decision is considered as very wise by almost everyone. China has not met anything remotely close. So why should China attack anyone?

About the question of whether China had things to lose in the 50's and 60's. In my opinion, China had everything to lose. In the 1951, CCP just gained control of most of China and had big plans for China. The CCP leadership was extremely ambitious and planned to develop the economy and the military so that one day in the near future, they would regain their place on top of the world. Losing a war in Korea would mean the end of all this.

First of all, the US would continue pushing into China and eventually occupy the entire China. That means the end of rule for the CCP. Merely 5 years before that, the US just used atomic bombs in Japan. Who would say the US would not use it again in China. In fact, this was exactly what MacArthur was planning to do. Secondly, if the war in Korea drags on for too long and they had to divert too much of their troops to Korea, the Nationalists in Taiwan might come back and attack them. This would also mean the end of CCP in China. This was also planned by Jiang in Taiwan. So these things are not simply possible scenarios, but something that has been seriously contemplated by China's enemies.

In the 60's, China was in the middle of all kinds of political turmoil. To the outsiders, this looked like a disaster. In fact, it was. However, to the political leaders in China at the time, especially Mao, this was merely a step to his ultimate goal of complete control of China and the eventual dominance of China in the world. Attacking India who was backed by the Soviets would risk open war with India and possible with the Soviets. In fact, China and the Soviets were already at war at the time. the two nations already fought a number of battles for isolated islands in the north. Fighting two wars on two sides against India and the Soviets would mean the end of China as we know it. The Nationalists in Taiwan would also attack. In fact, even in 1965, Nationalist Navy planned an attack on the mainland, which was stopped short by the PLA Navy.

In the late 1970's and 80's, China had even more to lose as China just ended the Cultural Revolution and ambitiously started their economic development. A disastrous war with Vietnam and possibly the Soviets would end all this and China would not have its revival. China attacked Vietnam who was also backed by the Soviets. Even before the attack, China was seriously worried abut the Soviets attacking them from the north. They actually moved all their elite forces to the northern border in case of a Soviets attack and only used secondary units in Vietnam. This was not something that was merely in the heads of the Chinese leaders. Even now, the Sino-Russian border is still the most armed in the world with over a million troops from both sides guarding the border.

Even without foreign invasions, Chinese leaders risked everything when they planned a war. In those political turmoils, various factions in CCP fought for political dominance and any weakness shown by a leader would be used by his political enemy to destroy him. In fact, many of the Chinese 1st and 2nd generation political leaders did not meet a good end. A lot of them were persecuted and tortured to death by their political opponents. Imagine what would happen if China actually lost a war. All the leaders who were in favor of the war would have been destroyed.

So in summary, China had a lot to lose when they decided to attack their opponents. In fact, if they lost the war, it would not simply be a loss of face, but loss of control of the entire nation and almost definitely the end of lives of those CCP political leaders. that's a lot more than what a typical political leader in any Western nation would have to face when losing a war. It's a lot more personal, so to speak.
 
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Equation

Lieutenant General
I think you misunderstood my point. the premise of my examples was that China acts according to their strategic goals. That was my point in my original post and my later post was simply an elaboration of my original point. Before the 80's, China's goals were to dominate Asia. Then if India and Vietnam challenged China, it was natural for China to act accordingly. China did NOT attack India or went into Korea to show how tough they are. They had a clear strategic plan and did everything to fulfill that plan.

The current plan in China is completely different from what they had in the 50's and 60's. They want to develop their economy and THE thing that they don't want is their neighbors don't like them and don't want to do business with them. Further, ultimately, China also wants allies, just like the US has allies. Attacking whoever they want will not get them any allies. They want to be seen as responsible, not belligerent. And they certainly don't want to seen as a bully. So they don't want to attack the small nations, especially since none of them has done anything that warrant any military action.

The US did everything they could to avoid military confrontation during the Cuban missile crisis when the Soviets moved missiles to the door step of the US. To anyone, that would be considered as a declaration of war. Yet, the US political leadership decided to avoid open war with the Soviets. And now this decision is considered as very wise by almost everyone. China has not met anything remotely close. So why should China attack anyone?

About the question of whether China had things to lose in the 50's and 60's. In my opinion, China had everything to lose. In the 1951, CCP just gained control of most of China and had big plans for China. The CCP leadership was extremely ambitious and planned to develop the economy and the military so that one day in the near future, they would regain their place on top of the world. Losing a war in Korea would mean the end of all this.

First of all, the US would continue pushing into China and eventually occupy the entire China. That means the end of rule for the CCP. Merely 5 years before that, the US just used atomic bombs in Japan. Who would say the US would not use it again in China. In fact, this was exactly what MacArthur was planning to do. Secondly, if the war in Korea drags on for too long and they had to divert too much of their troops to Korea, the Nationalists in Taiwan might come back and attack them. This would also mean the end of CCP in China. This was also planned by Jiang in Taiwan. So these things are not simply possible scenarios, but something that has been seriously contemplated by China's enemies.

In the 60's, China was in the middle of all kinds of political turmoil. To the outsiders, this looked like a disaster. In fact, it was. However, to the political leaders in China at the time, especially Mao, this was merely a step to his ultimate goal of complete control of China and the eventual dominance of China in the world. Attacking India who was backed by the Soviets would risk open war with India and possible with the Soviets. In fact, China and the Soviets were already at war at the time. the two nations already fought a number of battles for isolated islands in the north. Fighting two wars on two sides against India and the Soviets would mean the end of China as we know it. The Nationalists in Taiwan would also attack. In fact, even in 1965, Nationalist Navy planned an attack on the mainland, which was stopped short by the PLA Navy.

In the late 1970's and 80's, China had even more to lose as China just ended the Cultural Revolution and ambitiously started their economic development. A disastrous war with Vietnam and possibly the Soviets would end all this and China would not have its revival. China attacked Vietnam who was also backed by the Soviets. Even before the attack, China was seriously worried abut the Soviets attacking them from the north. They actually moved all their elite forces to the northern border in case of a Soviets attack and only used secondary units in Vietnam. This was not something that was merely in the heads of the Chinese leaders. Even now, the Sino-Russian border is still the most armed in the world with over a million troops from both sides guarding the border.

Even without foreign invasions, Chinese leaders risked everything when they planned a war. In those political turmoils, various factions in CCP fought for political dominance and any weakness shown by a leader would be used by his political enemy to destroy him. In fact, many of the Chinese 1st and 2nd generation political leaders did not meet a good end. A lot of them were persecuted and tortured to death by their political opponents. Imagine what would happen if China actually lost a war. All the leaders who were in favor of the war would have been destroyed.

So in summary, China had a lot to lose when they decided to attack their opponents. In fact, if they lost the war, it would not simply be a loss of face, but loss of control of the entire nation and almost definitely the end of lives of those CCP political leaders. that's a lot more than what a typical political leader in any Western nation would have to face when losing a war. It's a lot more personal, so to speak.
I don't think anybody in today's world could occupied China. The Chinese just have the advantages of number and history on their side. If say the CCP failed in their effort to reshape China, someone or some group will step up and take the lead, no matter how long it takes. Any generation that grew up under another power from another country would want to change it of course, therefore you get people in all kinds of class would conduct long term plans and strategy to meet their goals.
 

vesicles

Major
I don't think anybody in today's world could occupied China. The Chinese just have the advantages of number and history on their side. If say the CCP failed in their effort to reshape China, someone or some group will step up and take the lead, no matter how long it takes. Any generation that grew up under another power from another country would want to change it of course, therefore you get people in all kinds of class would conduct long term plans and strategy to meet their goals.
Agreed. However, back in the 50's and 60's, that was not the case, at least not in the mind of every Chinese. Almost a dozen Western powers attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to occupy China from 1840's to 1940's and an 8-year Japanese occupation just ended not long ago. So in the mind of Chinese in the 50's and 60's, another occupation by a foreign power was very real.
 

hugga12

Just Hatched
Registered Member
they are respectful of their enemies talent and therefore are capable of defeating them]
 

plawolf

Brigadier
I think some people are starting to mix and confuse political will and military culture.

Also, I think even with regards to the same military, different sides will hold vastly different opinions and views.

Imo, pretty much all militaries share a lot of very similar values and cultures, of things like duty, honor, pride etc. But the stand-out core values of the modern Chinese soldier for me are loyalty, determination, self-sacrifice and honor.

Loyalty is self-explanatory enough.

In terms of determination, Chinese war stories are full of stories of ordinary Chinese soldiers enduring unbelievable hardships and performing feats of endurance that even special forces will not take lightly. When you read the snippets of news about Chinese special forces training, you cannot help but doubt how reliable they are because of just how unimaginably tough the descriptions are. But I have seen enough evidence to feel that those reports are not exaggerated.

These stories of just how hard Chinese soldiers train are given more credibility when you see how well Chinese special forces teams are doing in international competitions and how amazingly well the Chinese soldiers performed when a visiting American marine unit trained with them - the slowest Chinese soldier finished the assault course faster than the fastest American marine.

The other stand-out feature of Chinese war stories are the kind of sacrifices Chinese soldiers are ready and willing to make. You have stories of men throwing themselves at fire slits to smother it and allow the rest of the unit to advance, you have stories of soldiers holding up explosive charges to take out bunkers etc.

This quality is again re-enforced by modern examples, most notable in the air force, as PLAAF pilots will regularly stay with a plane to try and save it in cases were all western pilots would have bailed out.

All of those qualities can be interpreted as a positive or a negative depending on your POV, and the west only tend to look at things from the negative with regards to China.

So for loyalty, westerners will almost always interpret the Chinese sense of loyalty as the soldiers are all brainwashed drones and lack initiative or imagination.

They will look at self-sacrifice and suggest Chinese commanders don't care about the lives of their men and throw in some line about 'human waves' etc.

But then it is the same thing with regards to other militaries.

The Americans pride themselves on looking after their own, while others see them as being reckless and irresponsible in the lengths they will go to to minimize the risk to their own men no matter how much 'collateral damage' is inflicted.

Americans see themselves as aggressive, bold and decisive, others see them as trigger happy and irresponsible.

Same thing with the British. The British view themselves as noble and caring, with their soft hat patrols and hearts and minds winning tactics. The Americans view them as incompetent and 'soft' for not being able to crush insurgencies in their areas and all too often need American numbers and firepower to help bail them out.

You can do the same with every military in the world.

So the point I am trying to make is that the warrior culture of a nation is such a subjective matter that different people will hold vastly different views when looking at the same facts.
 
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Mr T

Senior Member
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.
Japan versus America?
Germany versus Russia?
Argentina versus Britain?
Iraq versus Iran?
Vietnam versus Cambodia?
Israel versus other regional powers?

There's quite a long list if you just try to think about it.

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.
The UN force was strung out across northern Korea and not prepared for a Chinese attack. The PLA leadership probably (and correctly) realised that a quick thrust could disrupt UN forces and force them into retreat. And China was fighting in its backyard, whilst the UN forces were from all over the world and couldn't exactly send reinforcements in overnight. So whilst obviously China couldn't match the rest of the world indefinitely, it was able to negate its enemy's advantages. And if the war had dragged on longer than originally planned, China again probably calculated correctly that whilst it could throw lots of extra troops in to the mix, countries like the US would find it harder and harder to do that due to voter concerns over the length of the conflict.

Let's not forget that in the 1950s, countries like China thought themselves to be psychologically stronger than "decadent" democratic countries.
 

vesicles

Major
Japan versus America?
What I'm saying has everything to do with the mentality, but actual strength. In WWII, Japan thought of themselves as the most powerful military on Earth. they felt like they could beat anyone in anywhere at anytime.

Germany versus Russia?
Again, when Nazis attacked the Soviets, they thought themselves as invincible and were simply finishing off the remaining of Europe. They were confident that they could win a war against the Soviets.

Argentina versus Britain?
Iraq versus Iran?
Vietnam versus Cambodia?
Israel versus other regional powers?
All these cases were examples of the attacker feeling to be stronger than the attacked and was confident about winning. Especially with Israel which was and still is technologically much more superior than any of its neighbors.

China was never in that situation. They knew full well that they were in a disadvantage and weaker than their opponents.

The UN force was strung out across northern Korea and not prepared for a Chinese attack. The PLA leadership probably (and correctly) realised that a quick thrust could disrupt UN forces and force them into retreat. And China was fighting in its backyard, whilst the UN forces were from all over the world and couldn't exactly send reinforcements in overnight. So whilst obviously China couldn't match the rest of the world indefinitely, it was able to negate its enemy's advantages. And if the war had dragged on longer than originally planned, China again probably calculated correctly that whilst it could throw lots of extra troops in to the mix, countries like the US would find it harder and harder to do that due to voter concerns over the length of the conflict.
These were tactical issues. Strategically speaking, China was in a much weaker position. All the points that you mentioned were simply the Chinese's way to get around their obvious weaknesses.

Let's not forget that in the 1950s, countries like China thought themselves to be psychologically stronger than "decadent" democratic countries.
This was simply propaganda talk. The top leadership were fully aware of their actual strength and weaknesses. Before they went into Korea, most of the Chinese leaders, including many in the military, even including Lin Biao himself, disagreed with Mao about going into Korea. So they knew the obstacles they would face if/when starting a war against the UN force.
 
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