The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released the Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2021 (CMPR2021) in early November 2021.
The report reveals that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has carried out a carefully calculated, systematic plan, to exert influence around the world by using the army, but disguised as a plan to bring peace and assistance, to effectively fulfil CCP’s ambition to dominate the world.
Chapter 4 of the report states that the CCP believes that the first few decades of the 21st century are a “strategic opportunity”. The CCP, therefore, requires the military to develop the ability to project power beyond its borders for the sake of China’s interests abroad and to advance the CCP’s foreign policy goals.
CMPR2021 and other documents show that CCP adopted 6 strategies to achieve its goals.
In order to better understand the information in the report, it is necessary to understand the CCP nature which is not always easy to grasp from the perspective of a Westerner.
The first strategy: Concept Swapping
The book Nine Commentaries on the CCP demonstrates that one of the most sophisticated tricks the CCP has used to consolidate and maintain its power, is, concept swapping. Through its proprietary education and communication system, the CCP confuses the Chinese people into believing that the CCP represents China and China represents the CCP, to love the country is to love the CCP and to love the CCP is to love the country.
Nine Commentaries also shows that the CCP always takes every opportunity to incite selfish nationalism in the hearts of the Chinese people. In fact, they have stimulated and pushed up the climax of struggle in the hearts of the Chinese, making them always dream of possessing hegemony. In this way, the CCP will make the Chinese work hard for the CCP believing they are working for the interests of the country and the people.
The CCP also has thoroughly employed this strategy in its military propaganda, causing the Chinese to mistake the CCP’s army for the Chinese people’s army. The CCP named their army “the Chinese people’s liberation army” (PLA). It can be seen that the word “people” was intentionally inserted into the name. As a result, the deceived Chinese civilians and soldiers are ready to dedicate themselves to the Chinese military with a sense of pride, forgetting that they are in fact dedicating themselves to the CCP.
The CMPR2021report showed an illustrative example of the CCP’s plan. According to the report, the PLA’s global expansion has been described by the CCP as a mission of “great national rejuvenation”.
After seizing power in 1949, the CCP’s troops either entered or waged several wars with foreign countries to expand their influence around the world. Under the CCP’s interpretation, those wars were great and righteous, and that they did for the sake of the country. This is a manifestation of concept swapping.
For example, when they wanted to send troops to help Kim Il Sung’s forces in Korea, supporting the left, they propagated among the people and soldiers that this war was necessary to help the North Korean stand against the evil American nation. According to the Nine Commentaries, the CCP’s propaganda system portrayed the United States as an imperialist, evil, and enemy of peace-loving humanity. Therefore, the Chinese people would think that helping Kim Il Sung’s army against the US was a noble and righteous act.
Another example, when they wanted to attack Vietnam, a neighboring country with an area much smaller than China, the CCP declares that Vietnam was a “small boss” threatening China. So it was necessary to teach the S-shaped country a lesson.
In another case, when the CCP wanted to dominate nearly 90% of the South China Sea, they propagated that this area had belonged to China since prehistoric times. They claim that their occupation of islands such as Spratly and Paracel Islands, or their activities in these waters, are to protect sacred sovereignty, despite the fact that ancient maps of China have shown that its territory only reaches Hainan Island.
The second strategy: Taking advantage of the international military mission
After opening up in 1978, following the CCP’s gradual increase in overseas activities, the PLA was ordered to increase its presence outside of China through operations that were said to preserve world peace.
Chapter 4 of the CMPR2021 states that CCP leaders believe that PLA’s growing presence globally is necessary to create an international environment that is beneficial to China’s rise. It means that the influence of the PLA in the international arena will contribute to the CCP’s rapid domination of the world. The other way round, the CCP wants to use the PLA presence to exert influence and cast its shadow over the rest of the globe.
As mentioned above, CCPs are adept at nesting the party’s goals within national goals. Once the national target is achieved, so are the CCP’s goals. Simply because if China becomes the number one nation in the world, the CCP is obviously the dominant force on the planet.
In order to send the PLA to every corner of the world, in 2004 the then-General Secretary of the CCP, Hu Jintao, said that the military’s “new historic mission” is to protect China’s overseas interests. As a result, the PLA Navy has shifted its focus from “offshore waters defense” to “open seas protection”. China’s air force must also build a strategy to support this goal.
By 2020, the CCP revised the National Defense Law, in which they required the military to “protect the country’s overseas interests.” This allowed the military to increase their participation in CCP’s economic activities and global diplomacy.
In September 2020, the CCP released a white paper titled “China’s Armed Forces: 30 Years of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations”. This white paper states that the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China will play a stronger role in future UN missions.
According to CMPR2021, the PLA Navy, Air Force, Army, and Strategic Support Forces have been deployed overseas to carry out so-called anti-piracy, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, peacekeeping, training exercises, and other activities.
In essence, however, the CCP’s Strategic Support Force, under the guise of carrying out an international mission, is tasked with remote surveillance and reconnaissance by the CCP and has headquarters in Namibia, Pakistan, and Argentina. The Strategic Support Force also possesses a number of ocean and air survey ships to monitor foreign satellite launches and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
In 2020, among the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China continues to present itself as the country that contributes the most to international peacekeeping operations.
Beijing supplies personnel for UN operations in South Sudan, Lebanon, Mali, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Lebanon, and Cyprus. The CCP dispatches a variety of personnel for peacekeeping operations, including military, police, staff officers, and professionals including engineers, medical professionals, and logistics personnel.
As of December 2020, China is the 9th largest contributor of personnel to UN peacekeeping operations with approximately 2,548 specialists in the above fields of expertise. China is also the second-largest financial contributor, with 15% of the $6 billion in UN peacekeeping operations.
Also in 2020, the PLA continued to normalize its overseas presence and built closer ties with foreign militaries by using COVID-19-related aid packages.
With such above activities in the name of peace, the CCP not only has highlighted its role but also gained a lot of organizational experience and intelligence for its military.
In addition, through high-level military visits and exchanges, the international relations of PLA officers have been expanded, enabling them to observe and study the command structures closely. military bases, bases, and combat training of other countries.
Since the beginning of the maritime piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden in 2008, the CCP has repeatedly dispatched naval escort task forces. At the end of their mission, these special forces will often stop at seaports to communicate with the host country’s militaries and Chinese expatriates who lived there, in order to create more opportunities for military diplomacy and collect intelligence information for the Chinese military.
The third strategy: Taking advantage of the Belt and the Road Initiative
First announced in 2013, the CCP’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative is an economic and foreign policy initiated by Xi Jinping.
Since the implementation of the project, as of November 2021, 140 countries have signed cooperation agreements with Beijing on this initiative, 125 countries more compared to last year.
CMPR2021 indicates that in line with the CCP’s push for the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, the PLA’s overseas operations have also been expanded accordingly.
The “One Belt, One Road” economic corridor passes through many areas that are experiencing violence and armed conflict, so the CCP has sought to establish closer anti-terrorism cooperation with other countries. China, thereby enhancing the military power and influence of the Chinese military in the places where it is present.
“One Belt, One Road” also makes it possible for the PLA Navy’s fleets to dock in countries participating in the initiative. Once docked, the Chinese warships will receive the logistical support needed to maintain naval deployments in the far-flung offshore areas that CCP wants to reach such as the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Fourth strategy: Building overseas military bases
According to CMPR2021, CCP is always looking for ways for their military to set up a number of bases abroad to help them develop their military power further. These global military logistics networks can both interfere with U.S. military operations and support offensive operations against the U.S.
The US Pentagon on May 2, 2019, released its annual report on China’s military capabilities. The 136-page report said the Chinese military was trying to build up strength to challenge the US military superiority. One of the notable observations is that Beijing is most likely to build more military bases abroad, RFI reported.
The Pentagon’s report to the U.S Congress says that China’s leaders are using their country’s growing economic, diplomatic and military influence to establish their dominance in Asia and expand China’s influence to the world.
The Pentagon believes that Beijing may seek to build military bases abroad to protect the projects it invests there, such as the Belt and Road project.
CCP is looking to establish more military bases in many countries including Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, UAE, Kenya, Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola, Tajikistan, and many other countries.
Since acquiring the Arctic Council observer status in 2013, CCP has increased its involvement in the Arctic region, establishing civilian research stations in Iceland and Norway, and operating ships Snow Dragon icebreaker research.
The CCP’s expansion of influence in the Arctic has given them more opportunities to interact with Russia, one of the US’ major rivals. The CCP and Russia, In April 2019, established the China-Russian Arctic Research Center.
According to Nikkei, after many years, a Chinese-built port is being revived in the East African country of Tanzania, and the completion of this port could give the Chinese Navy a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean.
Over the years, China has expanded its maritime influence in the Indian Ocean by investing in important ports such as Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Gwadar in Pakistan, and Doraleh in Djibouti.
Some analysts believe that the Bagamoyo port could provide an opportunity for China to strengthen its strategic goals in the region. They said the port could be used as a ship repair center for the Chinese Navy, or maybe even more.
A top US general has warned that China may be looking to expand its influence beyond the Pacific, with the potential to build a major naval base in the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Africa.
General Stephen Townsend, head of the US Africa Command, said in an interview with the AP news agency that China has been in contact with countries as far north as Mauritania and as far south as Mauritania. Namibia, to establish a naval base with the ability to deploy submarines or aircraft carriers.
The New York Times in 2019 reported that China won the right to use 20% of Cambodia’s coastline for 99 years through the Dara Sakor Project. The US side is concerned that China will build a military base here and turn Cambodia into a de facto military outpost.
Fifth Strategy: Exporting Weapons
Exporting weapons can not only bring in huge financial gains for the CCP, but it also makes it easier for the CCP to influence the countries that buy its weapons. More specifically, they can through the sale and donation of weapons to manipulate terrorist organizations around the world to serve their political plots.
The book “How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World” quotes data indicating that the CCP is the force that has trained and provided weapons for terrorist fighters from Afghanistan and many Middle Eastern countries. These gunmen were key figures that created the later notorious terrorist organizations in the Middle East such as al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or ISIS.
Reports show that the CCP often uses terrorist organizations to put pressure on the US and its allies. In many cases, when the CCP was facing strong protests from the world community after it suppresses freedom and human rights, terrorist organizations will immediately cause attacks in hot spots, distracting the US and its allies from putting pressure on the CCP.
China has now become the world’s second-largest weapons producer and fifth-largest weapons supplier. CCP has sold drones, submarines, missiles, and warplanes to Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Pakistan.
CCP is also a supplier of large naval ships. Pakistan has purchased eight Yuan-class submarines from China for more than $3 billion. Thailand also purchased a Yuan-class submarine in 2017 and planning to buy two more.
Weapons transfers are also seen as an effective means of helping CCP promote the spread of the One Belt, One Road initiative.
Many developing countries have been buying Chinese weapons because they are cheap. Although some potential customers consider Chinese-made weapons to be of lower quality and reliability, they accept it because CCP gives them a flexible payment option.
Sixth Strategy: Increase influence on the Internet
CCP believes that open democracies such as the U.S are vulnerable to external influences and that the Internet is a new and ideal platform to help them intervene in these countries.
Since 2003, the military of the CCP has put more emphasis on developing the concept of the “three wars”: psychological warfare, public opinion warfare, and legal warfare. The CCP military’s social media influence activities can be divided into three categories: propaganda in favor of the CCP, undermining opponents’ resolve, and shaping foreign government policies in favor of Beijing’s interests.
Since 2009, Beijing’s military has begun to worry that the U.S will use the Internet and social media to weaken its regime. So they reverted to intervening in free societies to at least strike a balance with their opponents. The Chinese military has sent delegations to Russia, Israel, Belarus, and Germany to learn how to use social media to influence the Internet.
Recently, CCP officers also discussed the issue of creating official CCP military accounts on Twitter and other Western social networks.
The CCP Army is studying how to use hidden social media accounts for political influence. Example: During the 2018 Taiwan election, the CCP’s Strategic Support Force may have carried out covert social media operations to support pro-CCP candidates, and tried to influence the election in this island nation.
In addition, the CCP is trying to establish digital totalitarianism, increasing censorship and surveillance on the internet, and advocating so-called “Internet sovereignty”, which means that each country has its own sovereignty over the part of the Internet. In essence, the CCP wants to legitimize the construction of information censorship walls. At the same time, CCP also actively exports surveillance technology to a number of countries, on the one hand, to gather intelligence, on the other hand, uses the Internet to slander democratic countries.
CCP appears to be gaining considerable prestige and gradually achieving its aim of world domination. However, the rapid developments of the world context, especially the Covid pandemic that CCP is blamed as the culprit for the outbreak, along with the CCP’s crimes of suppressing democracy and human rights in the past and present, has made the world community more aware of the danger of this organization. The whole world is now condemning CCP. This is considered a decisive factor preventing CCP from continuing to increase their influence.