Chinese National Security: Decisionmaking Under Stress

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    CHINESE NATIONAL SECURITYDECISIONMAKING UNDER STRESS

    Edited byAndrew ScobellLarry M. Wortzel

    September 2005

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    The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do notnecessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, theDepartment of Defense, or the U.S. Government. This report is cleared for publicrelease; distribution is unlimited.

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    ISBN 1-58487-206-3

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    CONTENTS

    ForewordAmbassador James R. Lilley .................................................................. v

    1. IntroductionAndrew Scobell and Larry M. Wortzel..............................................1

    2. Chinese Crisis Management: Framework for Analysis, Tentative Observations, and Questions for the Future

    Michael D. Swaine .............................................................................5

    3. The Tiananmen Massacre Reappraised: Public Protest, UrbanWarfare, and the Peoples Liberation Army

    Larry M. Wortzel .............................................................................55

    4. SARS 2002-2003: A Case Study in Crisis Management Susan M. Puska ...............................................................................85

    5. Chinese Decisionmaking Under Stress: The Taiwan Strait,1995-2004

    Richard Bush ..................................................................................135

    6. Decisionmaking Under Stress: The Unintentional Bombingof Chinas Belgrade Embassy and the EP-3 Collision

    Paul H. B. Godwin.........................................................................161

    7. Decisionmaking in Triplicate: China and the Three Iraqi WarsYitzhak Shichor ..............................................................................191

    8. Decisionmaking Under Stress or Crisis Management?:In Lieu of a Conclusion

    Frank Miller and Andrew Scobell ................................................ 229

    About the Contributors ........................................................................249

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    FOREWORD

    National security decisionmaking under stress or crisis managementis something with which I have had some firsthand experience overthe course of my career in government service. Most relevant to the

    topic of this edited volume is my tour of duty as U.S. Ambassadorin Beijing which began in May 1989a month before Tiananmen of

    June 3 and 4. In my position as chief U.S. diplomat in China, I was anactor and an observeralong with many dedicated and resourcefulU.S. Embassy personnelto the events that constituted a case studyof Chinese communist crisis management. My colleagues and I werewitnesses to what, in my judgment, constituted one of the gravest

    crises to the communists control of China since 1949. We engagedthe Chinese leadership during this time of tension and precipitousaction. As ambassador, I was responsible for managing the stressful andperilous situation that confronted the Embassy, its personnel, andU.S. citizens living and working in Beijing and elsewhere in China.While I directed our diplomatic personnel to do their utmost to reporton and document the full extent of the crackdown ordered by Chinas

    communist leaders, my foremost concern was to ensure the safety andsecurity of Americans in the country at the time. As a result more than6,000 U.S. citizens were withdrawn from China in what was one of thelargest evacuations of overseas Americans in a crisis situation sinceWorld War II. We saw both bravery and shirking among Americans,while the media was constantly trying to expose flaws in our actions.It was a time of rapid change and considerable manipulation. As events such as the EP-3 incident of April 2001 and the severe acuterespiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic of 2003 demonstrate, the topicof this volume is as timely and important today as it was 16 years ago.An improved understanding of how the Chinese leadershipcivilianand militaryhandles decisionmaking under conditions of crisis orstress is essential. This volume makes a worthwhile contribution onthis topic. I commend it to you.

    Ambassador James R. LilleySenior FellowAmerican Enterprise Institute

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    CHAPTER 1INTRODUCTION

    Andrew Scobell and Larry M. Wortzel

    If there is one constant in expert analyses of the history of modernChina, it is the characterization of a country perpetually in the throesof crises. And in nearly all crises, the Chinese Peoples LiberationArmy (PLA) has played an instrumental role. While China at themid-point of the 21st centurys first decade is arguably the mostsecure and stable it has been in more than a century, crises continue toemerge with apparent frequency. Consequently, the study of Chinas

    behavior in conditions of tension and stress, and particularly howthe PLA is a factor in that behavior, is of considerable importance topolicymakers and analysts around the world. This volume represents the fruits of a conference held at the U.S.Army War College in September 2004 on the theme of ChineseCrisis Management. One of the major debates that emerged amongparticipants was whether all the case studies under examinationconstituted crises in the eyes of Chinas leaders. The consensus wasthat not all of these incidents were perceived as crisesa key casein point being the three Iraq wars (1980-88, 1990-91, and 2003). Asa result, the rubric of decisionmaking under stress was adoptedas presenters revised their papers for publication. No matter whatrubric is employed, however, the chapters in this volume shedlight on patterns of Chinese behavior in crisis-like situations anddecisionmaking under stress.

    Michael Swaines contributed chapter first establishes a generalframework for understanding crisis management based onprevious work by Alexander George and J. Philip Rogers. He thenproceeds to apply this framework to Chinese crisis managementin particular. Swaine identifies five basic variables that influencecrisis management behaviorsubjective views of leaders and public,domestic environment, decisionmaking structure, informationreceipt and processing, and idiosyncratic features. In the case ofChina, he argues, the country often views itself as a victim andtherefore strongly reacts to what it perceives as unjust actions onthe part of other countries. Chinese leaders are thereby compelled

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    to signal their firm resolve on serious issues through words andactions. However, decisionmaking is centralized in the hands of asmall number of Party cadre, who work to develop a consensus,while Chinas bureaucratic Party and intelligence system severelycompartmentalizes the flow of information, especially to seniorleaders. This limits and sometimes distorts the information theyreceive during crisis situations. Swaine then raises a number of questions about the factors thatinfluence the Chinese framework for decisionmaking. He concludesthat, if we can better understand the broad tendencies that affectChinas crisis management style, we may be able to reduce thelikelihood of undesirable situations in which a Sino-U.S. crisis would

    erupt. Larry Wortzel presented a paper on Chinese decisionmaking andthe Tiananmen Square Massacre. In Wortzels opinion, at the timeof Hu Yaobangs death, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wasunder intense public pressure to reform and reduce corruption. Husdeath acted as a catalyst, leading to student demonstrations, whichwere encouraged by reformist members of the CCP. As the protestsbecame larger, several conservative factions, normally at odds withone another, closed ranks and sought to end the demonstrations,first through police, then military, means. However, the consensusdecision to use force took time, and the apparent lack of action by theParty was seen by protestors to be tacit approval of their actions. The Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) units that were finally sentin after the declaration of martial law were warned of

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