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News | Sept. 1, 2022

Rightsizing Chinese Military Lessons from Ukraine

By Joel Wuthnow Strategic Forum 311


Rightsizing Chinese Military Lessons from Ukraine
Rightsizing Chinese Military Lessons from Ukraine
Rightsizing Chinese Military Lessons from Ukraine
Photo By: NDU Press
VIRIN: 220901-D-BD104-001

Key Points

  • Analysts should question assumptions about whether, how, and to what effect the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is learning and adapting based on foreign conflicts. China’s openness to learning might be less or different than it was in the 1990s.
  • Many of the potential “lessons learned” from Ukraine confirm strategies the PLA has been considering for years, including joint operations, nuclear signaling to deter U.S. intervention, achieving information dominance, decapitation strikes, political work, personnel development, and logistics support.
  • A few potentially impactful lessons have received less attention: a reassessment of the PLA ground force’s near-complete shift to battalions and brigades, insights on successful deception in a Taiwan scenario, and greater PLA focus on protracted conflict.
  • If the PLA adopts these lessons, it could be less vulnerable to the U.S. and Ukrainian approaches that hindered Russia’s offensive in 2022. However, there are numerous steps the United States and Taiwan can take to preserve advantages.