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The maritime refocusing of China’s military doctrine. An empirical analysis

Simone Dossi
Università degli Studi di Milano
Simone Dossi
Università degli Studi di Milano
Open Panel

Abstract

Since the end of the nineties Western scholars have debated on the geographical shift of China’s security policy, from the continent to maritime peripheral areas. After more than a decade, however, this debate is still far from a consensus, with different interpretations of both the extent of this maritime refocusing and the reasons explaining it. In this paper I try to contribute to this debate by analyzing one specific element of China’s security policy: its military doctrine. Has there been a maritime refocusing in China’s military doctrine? If this is the case, which are the variables that can explain this trend? My paper tries to answer these two research questions through an empirical analysis of the evolution of Chinese military doctrine since the early eighties. As the concept of military doctrine has been used in different ways in literature, the first paragraph of the paper is devoted to a preliminary concept analysis. I define military doctrine as a belief system and analyse its relation with the adjacent concept of military strategy. I move then to the empirical analysis, in which I trace the evolution of China’s military doctrine drawing on Chinese sources, such as textbooks used for military training in Chinese universities, articles published in major military journals and monographs on Chinese contemporary military thought.