China and the Pentagon’s New Map

Tom Barnett’s thinking is beginning to gain credibility in Chinese circles. And that’s a good thing.
U.S. security policy thought-leader Thomas P.M. Barnett’s work The Pentagon’s New Map has been reviewed by the Nanfang Daily. There is apparently a growing school of thought within the Chinese military that sees an opportunity to adapt Barnett’s worldview as valid and to integrate it with Chinese defense policy and doctrine, and vice versa. That’s a heartening thought.

It would, however, be a fundamental break from the neo-Maoist thinking that has continued to dominate the nation’s approach to defense. A summary of a 1998 speech by PLA General Chi Haotian summarizes Chinese defense doctrine nicely.

Clearly thinking in that monster of a building next to the PLA Museum on Fuxingmenwai needs to change as much as it needs to change in that other monster building on the Virginia side of the Potomac. Chinese defense thinking and doctrine is no longer relevant to a country that is actively engaged with – and interdependent with – a multipolar world. Defense policy needs to be more focused on engaging threats creatively before they become threats than on building a modern wall against the outside world.


About David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.
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