How would you define China's Warrior Ethos?

vesicles

Major
I have to agree with Plawolf that I am mixing up the political will and military culture. However, I think the two are interconnected in a way. Between 1840 and early 20th century, China still had brave soldiers and generals and quite capable military, but very weak leaders who would sign whatever treaties thrown at them by foreign powers. In the Opium war, China was able to defeat the British on the battlefield. Without finding any solution to beat the Chinese on the battlefield, the British managed to bribed the corrupted Chinese officials who convinced the witless emperor to fire the commanding general and dismantled all the defense infrastructure along the coast line and invite the British military, or more precisely the East India Company, in.

In the 1930's, Japan was kept out of China all together because the governor of Manchuria, Zhang Zhuolin was firm about not allowing any foreigners into China. And there was nothing the Japanese could do about it with Zhang in command and his military standing firm. So they assassinated him. yet, his son was a lot more easily manipulated. He gave up the entire Manchuria to the Japanese without firing a single shot. All these feed into an overall impression by Chinese themselves and foreigners that Chinese were weak, hence "the weak man in the East" phrase.

Thus, a tough political leadership is connected to a tough military culture.
 

ABC78

Junior Member
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Unfortunately I am not as well versed in Chinese military classics as you guy Heck I'm not too familiar with any of the pre-opiunm war military history of China.

Maybe we should breakdown it by dynasties on what each of them emphasized on the creation of an effective warrior.
 

Mightypeon

Junior Member
VIP Professional
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.
Not to mention the third Indochina war, where war with the at that time shockingly powerfull USSR, and likely the entire warsaw pact, was quite a possibility.
 

solarz

Brigadier
Not to mention the third Indochina war, where war with the at that time shockingly powerfull USSR, and likely the entire warsaw pact, was quite a possibility.
Whatever you might say of the CCP, they, unlike the late Qing dynasty and the KMT government, have never backed away from a fight when it was necessary.

I believe that their doctrine was influenced by the Korean War. Had the Chinese not pushed past the 38th parallel, they would not have suffered such heavy casualties, and their diplomatic position would have been far stronger. They applied this lesson in the wars against the Indians and the Vietnamese.
 

montyp165

Junior Member
Whatever you might say of the CCP, they, unlike the late Qing dynasty and the KMT government, have never backed away from a fight when it was necessary.

I believe that their doctrine was influenced by the Korean War. Had the Chinese not pushed past the 38th parallel, they would not have suffered such heavy casualties, and their diplomatic position would have been far stronger. They applied this lesson in the wars against the Indians and the Vietnamese.
One other corollary to that was the disparity of logistics between Chinese and Soviet/US forces prior to the 21st century would make such limited actions be more fruitful, but with a stronger logistical capability the options increase significantly (e.g., the push past the 38th parallel in the Korean war would have become much more attainable and realistic in that case).
 

solarz

Brigadier
One other corollary to that was the disparity of logistics between Chinese and Soviet/US forces prior to the 21st century would make such limited actions be more fruitful, but with a stronger logistical capability the options increase significantly (e.g., the push past the 38th parallel in the Korean war would have become much more attainable and realistic in that case).
It's not only logistics, but also a question of what you want to achieve with a military operation. The USA, despite having the best logistic system in the world, fell into the trap of having a poorly thought out objective in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

What would China gain by trying to push further into India and Vietnam? Absolutely nothing. Which is why the PLA withdrew after making their statement.

As for the Korean War, China should not have pushed past the 38th parallel even if they had secure supply lines. The most important objective for China in entering the Korean War was to keep NK as a buffer state against US influence. By beating the UN forces back to the 38th parallel, that objective was achieved. They should have stopped there. There was nothing to gain for China to sacrifice its own soldiers to help out Kim Il Sung. A united Korea is more likely to turn against China than anything else. Even in the best case scenario, Korea would seek to play off China against the other great powers (which NK actually does to a certain extent). In this, and many other matters, Mao was blinded by his ideology.
 

montyp165

Junior Member
What would China gain by trying to push further into India and Vietnam? Absolutely nothing. Which is why the PLA withdrew after making their statement.

As for the Korean War, China should not have pushed past the 38th parallel even if they had secure supply lines. The most important objective for China in entering the Korean War was to keep NK as a buffer state against US influence. By beating the UN forces back to the 38th parallel, that objective was achieved. They should have stopped there. There was nothing to gain for China to sacrifice its own soldiers to help out Kim Il Sung. A united Korea is more likely to turn against China than anything else. Even in the best case scenario, Korea would seek to play off China against the other great powers (which NK actually does to a certain extent). In this, and many other matters, Mao was blinded by his ideology.
Strategically it could be worthwhile to eliminate Vietnam altogether from the map, or change Indian government to something more ideologically compatible, but that's a can of worms that I'd rather discuss someplace else.

As for the Korea thing, even a unified Korea controlled by NK trying to look for other powers for support (just like how Myanmar is doing for example) would still be more in the PRC's political influence moreso regarding the US and Japan than otherwise, however.
 

solarz

Brigadier
Strategically it could be worthwhile to eliminate Vietnam altogether from the map, or change Indian government to something more ideologically compatible, but that's a can of worms that I'd rather discuss someplace else.

As for the Korea thing, even a unified Korea controlled by NK trying to look for other powers for support (just like how Myanmar is doing for example) would still be more in the PRC's political influence moreso regarding the US and Japan than otherwise, however.
I seriously doubt it'd be strategically worthwhile to annex Vietnam, considering just how much resistance you're going to encounter from the Vietnamese. And "regime change" never turns out the way you want it to.

Likewise, the risk and resources required to unite Korea simply isn't worth the gain compared to simply keeping NK as a buffer state. That's what I meant by keeping sight of objectives. There was a reason Mao refused to support Kim in his venture, causing Kim to seek the approval of Stalin. In the heat of the war, Mao seems to have forgotten that reason.
 

advill

Junior Member
Hypotheses based on past events like the Korean War etc. are irrelevant today. We have to examine geo-political events in the region, and the reactions of China to the current re-energised involvement of the US in East Asia re: TPP & Security. It would be useful for commentators to give their viewpoints of current China's Warrior Ethos re: the PLA, its Navy and Air Force in the face of challenges. My question is, would it be head-on to protect the Chinese territorial claims, or would it be cooperative? My guess is it would be the latter, as PRC's Politboro would have insights into global and regional issues. I hope I am not wrong.
 

AssassinsMace

Brigadier
Well I'm going to be the skeptic here and call this warrior's ethos just romanticism. It's a great motivator but how many people today actually do what it takes to live by it or is this just another superficial title to advertise.

Pressfield brings up the differences in values between the civilian and the military. He says civilians want everything easy and comfortable while the military likes adversity. Bull! Just look at the reactions to anything China does modernizing its military. China is no match from some who are complaining. Yet if you believe in the romanticism of honor here, they would be salivating at what China is doing. I know most of the criticism is from civilian governments but you've heard military leaders uncomfortable wondering why China needs all these new toys as if there was no potential adversary of China. True adversity is facing a superior foe. Expecting an adversary to be vigilant over themselves not be at the slightest offensive and be primitive so the "warriors" can be spoiled into an easy and comfortable victory is not honorable.

This book ironically perpetuates the "civilian" values.
 
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