This article is part of a series examining the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) white paper “Unrestricted Warfare” from 1999. You can read the previous parts here.

Previously, we explored the strategic paperUnrestricted Warfare” by Chinese colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, focusing on technology’s impact on warfare, decentralization, and the need for adaptable military strategies in the global landscape. We also covered the concept of “Fighting the Fight That Fits One’s Weapons” versus “Making the Weapons To Fit the Fight” and the implications for modern conflicts like the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

In continuation, Qiao and Wang present the concept of “Weapons of New Concepts and New Concepts of Weapons.”

In their thought-provoking analysis, both Chinese military veterans challenge conventional notions of “new weapons” and delve into the profound impact of technology on modern warfare.

Qiao and Wang argue that true innovation lies not in advanced weaponry but in the strategic concepts that can turn everyday elements into potent weapons of war.

Refinement of Traditional Weapons

In their analysis, Qiao and Wang challenge the idea of revolutionary “new” weapons and emphasize that most advancements in weaponry are evolutionary rather than revolutionary. To illustrate this, let’s consider the analogy of a bow and arrow.

The bow and arrow is an ancient weapon that has been refined and improved over thousands of years. From the basic design of a simple wooden bow with flint-tipped arrows used by early humans, it evolved into more sophisticated versions like the longbow used in medieval times and the composite bow used by ancient civilizations like the Mongols and Persians.

Throughout these advancements, the core concept of the bow and arrow remained the same: to project a projectile with force and accuracy to kill or disable an enemy from a distance. Similarly, modern ballistic missiles are the refined versions of the archaic trebuchets and catapults used in ancient warfare. The concept of launching a projectile at a target with force remains unchanged.