Lecture: Since 1949, China has adopted nine national military strategies, known as “strategic guidelines.” The strategies adopted in 1956, 1980, and 1993 represent major changes in China's military strategy, or efforts by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to wage war in a new way. Shifts in the conduct of warfare in the international system offer one explanation for why China, a developing country for most of this period, pursued major change in its military strategy. Such shifts in the conduct of warfare should be especially powerful if a gap exists between a state's current strategy and the requirements of future warfare. The PLA has only been able to change strategy, however, when the Chinese Communist Party leadership is united and agrees on basic policies and the structure of authority. When the party is united, it delegates substantial responsibility for military affairs to the PLA leadership, which changes or adjusts military strategy in response to changes in China's security environment.
M. Taylor Fravel is Associate Professor of Political Science and member of the Security Studies Program at MIT. Taylor is a graduate of Middlebury College and Stanford University, where he received his PhD. He has been a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University, a Predoctoral Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, a Fellow with the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program and a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also has graduate degrees from the London School of Economics and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the International Studies Quarterly, Security Studies, Journal of Strategic Studies, and The China Quarterly, and is a member of the board of directors for the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. He is also the Principal Investigator of the Maritime Awareness Project.