Strictly speaking China is currently governed by a hybrid of entrepreneurial capitalism and rigid central control, in other words, the world’s largest fascist state with ruling principles and aspirations grounded in Legalist thought. The Chinese are, as in history, obsessed by the maintenance of internal order.
The Chinese idea of a logical moral order is the advancement of Chinese power.
With the present aggressive policies of China the short-term challenge for the West would be to recognize the sources of Chinese thinking about the world, and design policies for dealing with Beijing that comprehend China’s unique worldview.
Several Western experts have in recent years pointed out that European nineteenth century strategist Carl von Clausewitz is outdated. Ralph Peters in Armed Forces Journal (2006) headlined his article “Why Clausewitz had it backward”. In the West Sun Tzu is incorrectly often regarded as a pacifist, who want to win war without bloodshed. This is profoundly wrong. In the passage concerning this method Sun Tzu’s primary emphasis is not on avoiding battle.
In his lengthy article in Hoover Institution’s Policy Review in 2003 also Tony Corn (“Clausewitz in Wonderland”) regarded von Clausewitz as outdated. Already in 1999 the reasons for not using Clausewitz should have become apparent even to Clausewitzians.
The revolution today is not in conventional warfare but in irregular warfare (of which one part is so called netwar or cyberwar). The German nineteenth century strategist saw irregular warfare as merely a “support activity” of conventional warfare. Thus Sun Tzu has much more to say on strategy in irregular warfare, the dominant form of warfare in the twentyfirst century, than Clausewitz.
In 2005 Major General Zu Chenghu threatened to nuke “hundreds” of American cities if the United States dared to interfere with a Chinese attempt to conquer the Republic of China (Taiwan). In 1998 an official People’s Liberation Army publishing house brought out a book on “unrestricted warfare” by two Chinese colonels. They argued in the work that it would be impossible to defeat the West with conventional warfare. Instead financial warfare, drug warfare, psychological and media warfare, international law warfare, resource warfare and ecological warfare should be used.
To understand China it is not enough to study Confucius. It is necessary also to study Sun Tzu but also the Legalist thinker Lord Shang. Mao’s teachings are influence more by Lord Shang than by Sun Tzu.