The Chinese military in mid June announced that is now has guidelines for Chinese military operations other than war. The text of those guidelines is not (yet?) available.
In the afternoon of June 30, the Ministry of Defense held a regular press conference, the deputy director of the Ministry of Defense Information Bureau, the spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, answered reporters’ questions.
Reporter: Recently, Xi Jinping, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, signed an order to release the “The Military’s Outline of Military Operations Other Than War (for Trial Implementation)“. Some foreign media commented that the outline will provide a legal basis for the Chinese military to safeguard strategic corridors, protect overseas investments, projects and personnel, and achieve the goal of “safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests”. What is the purpose and significance of this legislation?
Tan Kefei: The Military’s Outline of Military Operations Other Than War (Trial) was officially implemented on June 15, 2022. The Outline consists of 6 chapters and 59 articles, mainly regulating the basic principles of military operations other than war, organization and command, types of operations, operational security, and political work in a systematic manner.
The “Outline” adheres to Xi Jinping’s thought of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era as a guide. It is an in-depth implementation of Xi Jinping’s Thought on a strong military, adheres to the overall national security concept. It is of great significance for effectively implementing effective measures to reduce risks and challenges, address sudden emergency situations, protection of the lives and property of the people, uphold national sovereignty, maintain security, protect development interests, maintenan world peace and regional stability, innovation in the employment of military force, and for standardizing peacetime military operations in the era.
The Chinese term fēi zhànzhēng jūnshì xíngdòng 非战争军事行动 nicely parallels the term of art “military operations other than war” used by the US Department of Defense. That parallelism is likely significant. I expect that the PLA has translated nearly every US Department of Defense publication and nearly every DoD webpage there is.
I remember talking with the Civil Air Attaché at US Embassy Beijing in the late 1990s, asking her about air safety and regulation in China. She told me that the Chinese translated US FAA regulations into Chinese and are enforcing them. Making the foreign their own.
There is little detail yet about the Chinese guidelines but my guess would be we will see some reflections and refractions of US DoD practice. A parallel to U.S. DoD really (well in a sense; DoD follows order from a popularly elected state president while in the PRC system the PLA is under the orders of the Chinese Communist Party rather than the PRC state. Xi Jinping gives order as Military Commission head and not from his ceremonial position as PRC State Chairman) since these are Departmental regulations implemented at the order of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Military Commission. Only Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping — who as head of the military commission and not in his PRC head of state or Communist Party General Secretary incarnations (recall that during the 1980s the top leader Deng Xiaoping was chair of the Central Military Commission while party secetaries Hu and then Zhao were not) — gets to give orders to the Communist Party’s own People’s Liberation Army.
Looks like a normal step forward and has nothing to do with that Russian term “special military operations” that we hear a lot about these days.
China could save time and trouble by looking at existing practices and tweaking them as appropriate to give them ‘Chinese characteristics’. That makes good sense. Learning from other people’s experience and mistakes is great if you can manage to do it. As Chinese investments vital to the Chinese economy grow around the world, it is only natural that China will want to protect them. China seems to be on a path of gradually setting up ship repair and relief stations which are becoming like the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Support Base in Djibouti a real military base.
I suppose that the PRC government would like to be able to say ‘sure we are building capacity, but that’s no different from what the USA is doing.’
We can get some glimmer of where China is likely going with this from the Wikipedia page on military operations other than war with reference to US DoD practice:
From Wikipedia, looking to parallels… Fundamental principles Military operations other than war (US)
Several fundamental principles can be adduced from military operations other than war: objective, unity of effort, security, restraint, perseverance, and legitimacy. The first three are derived from the principles of war, and the remaining three are MOOTW-specific.
- Objective: The aim of MOOTW is to direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective. Inherent in the principle of objective is the need to understand what constitutes mission success, and what might cause the operation to be terminated before success is achieved.
- Unity of Effort
- Security: The goal here is to never permit hostile factions to acquire a military, political, or informational advantage.
- Restraint: Judicious use of force is necessary, carefully balancing the need for security, the conduct of operations, and the political objective. Commanders at all levels must take proactive steps to ensure their personnel know and understand the ROE and are quickly informed of changes, otherwise it can result in fratricide, mission failure, and national embarrassment. ROE in MOOTW are generally more restrictive, detailed, and sensitive to political concerns than in war.
- Perseverance: Some MOOTW may require years to achieve the desired results.
- Legitimacy: The goal here is to have committed forces sustain the legitimacy of the operation and of the host government, where applicable. In MOOTW, legitimacy is a condition based on the perception by a specific audience of the legality, morality, or rightness of a set of actions.
- Arms Control b39
- Combatting Terrorism: This includes antiterrorism and counterterrorism. Antiterrorism programs are defensive measures taken to reduce vulnerability to terrorist acts and form the foundation for effectively combatting terrorism. Counterterrorism is offensive measures taken to prevent, deter and respond to terrorism, which provides response measures that include preemptive, retaliatory, and rescue operations.
- DOD Support to Counterdrug Operations
- Enforcement of Sanctions and/or Maritime Security Operations (MSO), Maritime Intercept Operations, Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS)
- Enforcing Exclusion Zones
- Ensuring Freedom of Navigation and Overflight
- Humanitarian Assistance: HA operations relieve or reduce the results of natural or manmade disasters or other endemic conditions such as human pain, disease, hunger, or privation in countries or regions outside the United States.
- Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA): These operations can consist of temporary augmentation of air traffic controllers and postal workers during strikes, restoration of law and order after a riot, protection of life and federal property, or providing relief in the aftermath of natural disaster. The Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the use of federal military forces to enforce or otherwise execute laws unless expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress. Examples of DSCA are disaster relief provided during Hurricanes Andrew and Iniki in 1992, and deployment of troops during the 1992 Los Angeles riots and George Floyd protests.
- Nation Assistance and/or Support to Counterinsurgency:
- Security assistance refers to a group of programs by which the United States provides defense articles, military training, and other defense-related services to foreign nations by grant, loan, credit, or cash sales.
- Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO)
- Peace Operations (PO): Military PO are categorized as peacekeeping operations (PKO) and peace enforcement operations (PEO).
PKO are military operations undertaken with the consent of all major parties to a dispute, designed to monitor and facilitate implementation of an agreement and support diplomatic efforts to reach a long-term political settlement. PEO are the application of military force, or threat of its use, normally pursuant to international authorization, to compel compliance with resolutions or sanctions designed to maintain or restore peace and order.
- Protection of Shipping: Protection of shipping includes coastal sea control, harbor defense, port security, countermine operations, and environmental defense.
- Recovery Operations: Recovery operations are conducted to search for, locate, identify, rescue, and return personnel or human remains, sensitive equipment, or items critical to national security.
- Show of Force Operations: These operations involve increased visibility of US deployed forces in an attempt to defuse a specific situation.
- Strikes and Raids: Strikes are offensive operations conducted to inflict damage on, seize, or destroy an objective for political purposes. Strikes may be used for punishing offending nations or groups, upholding international law, or preventing those nations or groups from launching their own offensive actions. A raid is usually a small-scale operation involving swift penetration of hostile territory to secure information, confuse the enemy, or destroy installations. It ends with a planned withdrawal upon completion of the assigned mission.
- Support to Insurgency: US forces may provide logistic and training support to an insurgency, but normally do not themselves conduct combat operations.
-Peacekeeping -Contingency Operations -Non-combatant Evacuation Operations, or NEOs -Combat terrorism -Aid host nations through security assistance -Enforce United Nations economic sanctions -Intercept vessels -Plan and execute disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, and civil support operations -Conduct public health operations -Assist interagency counter-drug operations -Show the flag.