The PLA became more powerful and the principal guarantor of China’s internal and external security after the Cultural Revolution and abolition of the radicalised Red Guards. Deng Xiaoping was major civilian proponent of military modernization, but the real eye-opener was the Vietnam War. Instead of teaching a lesson to the Vietnamese, the Chinese ended up learning one themselves. The PLA realised its poor mobility, weak logistics and outdated weaponry, inadequate communication and an unclear chain of command.

In the wake of the Gulf War, the PLA’s strategy was revised to focus on “limited wars under high technology” and later, under “modern informationalised” conditions.

In the current decade, doctrinal emphasis is on Information Warfare (IW). There is a shift from Joint Operations to Integrated Joint Operations (IJO). China’s military believes that IW presents a level playing field for projecting power and prevailing upon the adversary. The IJO reflects that Service divisions do not matter when command chains are flat due to the levelling power of digital command, control and sensor systems; something that India’s armed forces refuse to learn due to turf interests. Cyber warfare is a well-appreciated tool.