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Use of Shih in Chinese Operational Art

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Technical Report,05 Jul 2015,26 May 2016

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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As Chinas influence on international affairs has continued to grow, more and more people have become concerned about the intentions behind Chinese actions. Several theories offer potential insights into the reasons behind Chinese actions in places like the South China Sea. Shih is one of those concepts. Shih is a holistic idea that refers to the advantage gained from manipulation of context. This study seeks to determine whether or not the concept of shih influenced the operational art conducted by political leaders in the Peoples Republic of China and commanders in the Peoples Liberation Army. Four characteristics help determine whether or not shih was a factor in a given conflict. These include leaders seeking to manipulate context, build troop morale through context, use an indirect approach, and exploit propensity within a given situation. This study examined two case studies including the Chinese winter offensives in the Korean War and the Sino Indian War and concludes that shih did influence Chinese leaders as they conducted operational art. Shih offers a lens through which to interpret future Chinese actions. Additionally, shih provides a contextual approach to operational design that would be a useful addition to US military doctrine and education.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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