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[精华推荐] 老外讨论中国的尚武精神
2012-04-02 airil 49630 75 17

How would you define China's Warrior Ethos?



#1 ABC78
I say a presentation by the author of "The Warrior Ethos" and the author mostly western references. And I was wondering what would China's warrior ethos be built on beyond the Mao red era "Long March, Anti-Japan and Civil War" tradition.


#2 paintgun
nationalism, patriotism and loyalty to the party
these are the pillars PLA can fall back to define this 'warrior ethos'
usually such thing evolve and stem from culture, like mentioned in the C-SPAN about duty and honor, but Chinese culture is currently in a limbo, and it has never emphasized much on warrior or war, in fact an averse subject, the core of chinese culture has always been family


#3 delft
It is remarkable how different the conduct of military with a similar background can be. During the liberation of the Netherlands in 1944-45 the Poles and Canadians had the reputation of waging their lives to reconnoiter places that might still be occupied by the German army and try to spare the lives and property of the people living there, while the US army had the reputation of pouting artillery fire into anything suspicious without such concerns.
In the next war the Netherlands was concerned with, the war against newly independent Indonesia, war crimes were committed that could not be acknowledged until a short while ago. There were complaints at the time, in the mid-fifties a cousin of my mother's said this unit had taken part in terrible things he didn't want to talk about, in 1969 someone wrote a book about those war crimes that led to a temporally loud discussion that died down pretty soon but only this year the Dutch government lost a court case in The Hague that forced them to pay compensation to survivors of a massacre on Java in 1949. In the late '90's a short article in my newspaper by a veteran from that war described how he was send out as an officer with a small detachment to retrieve the administration of a forestry company on Sumatra. He took prisoner a small number of members of the Indonesian army but because he had too few men to guard them he had them shot. Quite clearly he didn't recognize that he was a war criminal and the newspaper didn't notice it either.
So this presentation by Mr. Pressfield compares "the" US military ethics with those of antique Greeks and with the Japanese army of WWI and WWII, and wonders about those strange beings in South Asia with but little comprehension of the differences between Western armies at a given time and as they developed through time. It was altogether a rather shallow presentation, although not as shallow as paintgun's remarks.


#4 paintgun
hey i knew someone was gonna shoot at me i almost put a final sentence : just a ramble don't shoot, and it did happen lol
cmon delft, ABC78 was asking about what is the defining values of modern Chinese 'warrior ethos' in PLA
let us be honest, noone is a saint in war and as they say as well, all is fair in love and war, what we are really looking into is what motivates and becomes the basis for such warrior ethos, the C-SPAN video is certainly speaking from American perspective, and remember he is speaking in front of an audience of military professionals to promote his work
now try answering ABC78's good question about this interesting topic without trying to put anyone down


#5 montyp165
The traditional Chinese warrior ethos has basically been that of the intellectual soldier/warrior, i.e, one who uses intelligence and cunning moreso than brute force to achieve goals. In fiction the Romance of the Three Kingdoms has numerous examples of this sort listed, or the Water Margin for that matter, and a modern (albeit from a Japanese novel) example would be Yang Wen-Li from Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Real life traditional warrior heroes would be people like Yue Fei or Qi Jiguang.


#6 CottageLV
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. Unlike other major civilizations, China was never really a violent culture. It's always about world peace and elevation of personal education. If you look into Chinese history, for the past 1000 years, it's always being China being the most powerful civilization in the realm of its reach. China neither dominate (not including Korea of Vietnam, both were protectorate) or conquer other countries. The mentality of "I'm the best, you don't worth my time" always existed. This creates a society that doesn't look to violence to solve problems.
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.
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.
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.


#7 paintgun
certainly not a wussy culture, but modern Chinese culture is struggling to find it's identity and soul, ripped away from it by the Cultural revolution
most if not all military organization cultivates the same sense of honor, duty, and servitude or sacrifice as the core values of its members, each with their own methods and reasoning
the nature of conscription, volunteer and professional army also plays a significant effect in how to cultivate this values into a warrior ethos


#8 montyp165
It would be misleading to characterize the idea of modern Chinese not having any clue about a warrior ethos, especially since the PLA's military conception of service draws not only from the KMT NRA but also the old Chinese military classics, moreso than some are able to recognize.


#9 ABC78
In the author's presentation he mentions how militaries and warrior caste are forms of tribes.
Is there the possibility that the Chinese people and history had evolved beyond tribalism so long ago?
Without that bit of tribal mindset in existence to help forge the warrior ethos narrative.
Here is a presentation by the author of "The Origins of Political Order" it is about how people moved from tribes to nation states. The author those a brief history of early China and how it was established by war.


#10 montyp165
The Romans would be the best Western parallel to Ancient Chinese political development wrt dealing with scattered tribes to a cohesive unified political entity, and one can see certain similar trends in both.


#11 delft
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 tradition that while its army are reduced because of financial trouble, China will have its tradition dating from that war.


#12 vesicles 来自德克萨斯州
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.


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.


As I have pointed out above, warlord culture was not only present in China, but actually very prent. 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


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?


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.


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.


#13 ToxSic
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.


#14 Equation
...And stay away from poachers!


#15 vesicles 来自德克萨斯州
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.


#16 PhageHunter
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.


#17 advill 来自新加坡
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.


#18 montyp165
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...


#19 PhageHunter
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.


#20 solarz
Not the Mongols, or the Hun.
Medi 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.


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.


#21 PhageHunter
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?


#22 montyp165
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.


#23 solarz
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.


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.


#24 vesicles 来自德克萨斯州
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.


#25 Equation
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.


#26 vesicles 来自德克萨斯州
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.


#27 hugga12
they are respectful of their enemies talent and therefore are capable of defeating them]


#28 plawolf
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.


#29 Mr T 来自英国
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.


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.


#30 vesicles 来自德克萨斯州
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.


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


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.


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.


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.


#31 vesicles 来自德克萨斯州
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.


#32 ABC78
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.


#33 Mightypeon
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.


#34 solarz
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.


#35 montyp165
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).


#36 solarz
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.


#37 montyp165
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.


#38 solarz
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.


#39 advill 来自新加坡
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.


#40 AssassinsMace
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.


#41 ABC78
Do we have any vets to comment on this matter?


#42 vesicles 来自德克萨斯州
I doubt that. There is a philosophy in ancient China about how an emperor/overlord should rule his subjects. You don't want your subjects to be united in one group, meaning that once they align themselves together, you will lose your purpose as a leader as they can make up their own mind since their goals are in line with each other. You, as a leader, will slowly lose your influence and power. You, as a leader, want your subjects to be in different groups so that they'll need you to make the final decision and need you to be the mediator. So long as they fight each other, they will try to align with you. The same can be said of Korea. Once Korea is unified, they won't need anyone, China or the US, to help them mediate. They'll have their own goals and objectives. They won't reply on anyone else like how SK needs the US and NK needs China.


#43 no_name 来自奥克兰
So are you regarding NK as China's subject?


#44 vesicles 来自德克萨斯州
That was the plan of Mao. As whether it worked as planned, I leave that to you to decide...


#45 eldarlmari


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