The Chinese Air Force and Air and Space Power

By McCabe, Thomas R. | Air & Space Power Journal, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

The Chinese Air Force and Air and Space Power


McCabe, Thomas R., Air & Space Power Journal


Editorial Abstract: Analysts who predict that China will become the next peer competitor of the United States often cite as evidence China's large population and latent industrial potential. If they are correct, a critical component of US-Chinese relations will involve understanding the strategic perspective, composition, and doctrine of China's People's Liberation Army Air Force, because the unique characteristics of Chinese society and culture discourage using historical war-fighting models as foundations for strategy.

IN AN INFORMAL interview with James Reston of the New York Times in 1971, Zhou Enlai, premier of the People's Republic of China (PRC), laid out in broad terms the PRC's foreign-policy objectives: (1) unification of the mainland and Taiwan, (2) removal of US military power from Asia, (3) withdrawal of the massive Soviet military force deployed along the Sino-Soviet border, and (4) prevention of the rise of Japan as a military power.1 Meeting these objectives would have established the PRC as the dominant military power in Asia. Even more important, meeting them today would produce the same effect. Equally notable is their ideological neutrality: any Chinese nationalist, Communist or otherwise, can support such policy aims. If the Chinese Communist Party continues its gradual drift from Marxism to Chinese nationalism as its justification for ruling, these objectives are not likely to change. Although diplomacy can finesse and conveniently obscure the issue, to a degree, and although the events of 11 September 2001 may have changed its tone, the overall circumstances of US-PRC relations make very possible a future of fundamental hostility.

Even though China's primary focus today remains on its internal development and even though it is probably satisfied with its land borders, such is not the case with its maritime borders-especially with Taiwan and, secondarily, the South China Sea.2 The status of Taiwan, in particular, could lead to war sometime in the future. Even more important, China is a profoundly dissatisfied power in psychological terms. It craves respect, but the United States is not likely to give it such respect as long as the PRC remains a dictatorship. To the degree that the PRC ultimately aspires to the leadership of Asia, it is likely to clash with the United States, Japan, and probably with Russia. A policy of containing China as a strategic competitor will be regarded by its government as hostile, while a policy of "engagement" has been and will likely continue to be regarded in the same light-as one of smiling containment and subversion. Some sources have indicated that the PRC government already regards the United States as a rival and has done so for several years; indeed, anti-Americanism is evidently widespread among the population.3 The overall circumstances of US-PRC relations provide at least considerable potential for a fundamentally hostile Sino-US relationship.

For these reasons, it is prudent to study China in general and its military in particular. If the Chinese are not an enemy, it is worthwhile to understand them so as to minimize the chances of inadvertently identifying them as such.4 If they are, we need to understand why and to judge accurately whether they represent a threat, since a powerless enemy is more a nuisance than a danger.5 If they are indeed a present or emerging threat, we must understand them in order to deter or, if necessary, defeat them.

In studying the Chinese military as a potential enemy, one must pay attention to more than just the capabilities of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and its component services. Specifically, one would do well to begin with the PRC's military doctrine, since it shapes objectives, strategy, force structure, procurement, and training. This article addresses the air and space power doctrine of the PRC's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and analyzes its ability to carry out that doctrine. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Chinese Air Force and Air and Space Power
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.