With Eye on Ukraine, Top Chinese General Calls for Unconventional Warfare Capabilities

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BEIJING, China (Reuters) – Drawing on lessons learned from the Ukraine crisis a Chinese top general urged greater integration between novel capabilities such as artificial intelligence and conventional warfare tactics before any confrontation with Western forces.

In a front page article published in a Chinese official newspaper, General Wang Haijiang of the People's Liberation Army's Western Theatre Command wrote that 'political war, financial war, technological battle, cyber-warfare, and cognitive' warfare have all been interwoven in the Ukraine conflict.

Chinese efforts in preparing the country to face security challenges, both to protect the nation and to counter perceived threats from the West have not slowed down despite the slowing of the economy and the COVID-19. The defence budget is expected to increase for the eighth consecutive year in 2023.

China's military plans are being closely monitored not only by the West but also by its neighbours, including Taiwan, a democratically-governed island that China claims to be its own.

Wang, in Study Times, wrote: "At the present time and in the near future, there are many local conflicts, the global problems are increasing, and we have entered a period of great turmoil and change."

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He continued, "A variety of 'black-swan' or 'grey-rhinoceros' events could occur at any moment, particularly with the containment, encircling and decoupling, as well as military threats from some Western nations."

China's military has not had much experience in a hot conflict, despite the billions of dollars spent on defence. Its last, and short, war was in 1979, when it fought with Vietnam.

Wang writes that maintaining national security requires the ability to win.

In recent months, the PLA's combat readiness in a hypothetical conflict has been a focal point as China has flexed its military muscles over Taiwan and put itself at risk of conflict with the United States.

Washington's policy is one of "strategic uncertainty" as to whether it will intervene militarily in Taiwan's defense, but the law requires that the island be provided with the means to self-defend.

Wang said that China would seek to gain new military advantages through the development of capabilities in areas like artificial intelligence, aviation, space and information networks.

The PLA Daily, in a rare separate critique of the lessons learned in the Ukraine War in January, noted Russia's flaws in terms of its military, pointing out that it needed to improve "situational awareness" on the battlefield.