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China’s Ambitions for AI-Driven Future Warfare

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sees advanced technology as one of the keys to victory in its challenge to global order in this century. CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping has pronounced that the world is on the precipice of a “fourth industrial revolution” centered upon artificial intelligence and autonomous technology. China is mobilizing every sector of society to contribute to the state’s grand technological ambitions in its long-term struggle against the United States. 

Nowhere is this clearer than in the realm of military affairs. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is racing to integrate futuristic technologies into its historically less-advanced military. The PLA has coalesced around a new organizing concept for how it thinks that advanced technologies will affect warfare in this century. “Intelligentization” represents China’s vision for a new revolution in military affairs. This little-known new concept is driving the PLA’s modernization efforts and signals the expansive ambitions the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has in challenging American military dominance globally.


Schrodinger’s Military? Challenges for China’s Military Modernization Ambitions

Xi Jinping wants China to have a “world-class military” by the middle of the century. While the country has undergone a historic military modernization effort in the last two decades, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) remains a regional military power, albeit one with growing ambitions to achieve regional dominance and expand its ability to project power around the globe.

Is Xi’s dream of a world-class PLA realistic? His vision largely depends on PLA efforts to increase jointness and achieve intelligentization.

By all accounts, the Chinese military is on the march. The PLA’s annual budget grows at a rapid pace year after year. The PLA Navy is now larger than the U.S. Navy. “Carrier-killer” missiles attempt to threaten America’s ability to project power in the Indo-Pacific. The PLA’s increasingly sophisticated nuclear arsenal grows at an alarming pace. But these raw numbers alone do not capture some of the more subtle measures of warfighting capabilities, such as organization, training, education, and doctrinal concepts. These seldom noted yet critical measures of military power may tell a different story about the PLA’s pace of growth and ability to achieve its ambitions.


How Chinese Strategists Think AI Will Power a Military Leap Ahead

The People’s Liberation Army has yet to adopt a definition, let alone a formal plan, for “intelligentization (智能化),” a Chinese vision for the transformation of warfare through artificial intelligence and automation. But Chinese military theorists see it as a rare opportunity for “leapfrog development” over adversaries. One author suggests that Star Wars will “become a reality”; another says the fantasies from “mythological fiction” will come true. Their writings, while not authoritative, have coalesced around several key themes that offer a crucial glimpse into potential PLA thinking and ambitions.


Negotiating from Strength: Washington, Beijing and Climate Change

There is growing pressure for the Biden administration to de-escalate tensions with China for the sake of climate cooperation. In a letter published on July 8, climate organizations called on the United States to work on “environmental, human rights, social, and governance standards” with China to avert a new Cold War.

Enticing China to act in support of the Biden administration’s effort to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions will not succeed. China’s significance as the world’s greatest emitter of pollution and Chinese policymakers’ own view of climate change negotiations will render any cooperative strategy ineffective. As our primary strategic rival, China will likely only respond to pressure on climate.


In Meeting With Erdogan, Biden Holds the Power

On the margins of the June 14 NATO summit in Brussels, U.S. President Joe Biden is set to hold his first meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The encounter comes at a sensitive time for Erdogan, whose country is teetering on the edge of a potentially catastrophic economic and political crisis. And Biden should use that to the United States’ advantage as he seeks to support democracy in Turkey.


Afghanistan’s Terrorist Future

The most likely outcomes from the American withdrawal are bad. The worst-case-scenarios are catastrophic.

There’s much more that can be said about the decision and the process (or lack thereof) behind it. But given how unlikely the decision is to be reversed, it is worth considering what will happen to Afghanistan after the last American troops leave.