Managing Conflict: Examining Recent PLA Writings on Escalation Control
Center for Naval Analyses Arlington United States
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This study examines how people in Chinas Peoples Liberation Army PLA think about and discuss escalation control in their public writings. It draws on over two dozen PLA writings, most issued since 2008, to explore the current state of PLA thinking on how crisis and conflict erupt, escalate, and end. We focused on PLA views of conventional non-nuclear conflict. We found that controlling the outbreak and escalation of crisis is an area of focus for the PLA. We also found that there are divergences from U.S. thinking that are worthy of attention. Chief among these is that some Chinese military activities in a crisis could be perceived as-and therefore become-escalatory even if they are not intended as such. Finally, we found that PLA views on these issues are evolving, and that there are still many critical unknowns in our understanding of PLA views on escalation control.