It’s not Russia that we should be worrying about … it’s China!

And, here are China’s 9 strategic principles.

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One of my summer reads has been The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury.

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Pillsbury is a bona fide China expert, having served 8 administrations in a variety of high-level positions in the state and defense departments and having worked for heralded think tanks, including RAND and the Hudson Institute.

Note: To me, guy seems very credible since (a) he footnotes every major point with compelling source documentation, and (b) he is very self-effacing – often pointing out the mistakes that he had made in his China analyses.

As the title indicates, Pillsbury concludes that China is about midway through a 100-year strategy to replace the U.S. as the global superpower…

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The 9 Guiding Principles

To provide an overall context, Pillsbury concludes that China’s strategy is based on 9 guiding principles that are fundamental to Chinese history and that reflect learnings from other countries’ strategic successes and mis-steps.

Note: I’ve taken some liberties to paraphrase, streamline and supplement Pillsbury’s 9 principles … while preserving their essence and intent.  And, I’ve highlighted a few of the points that most resonated with me.

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1. Don’t provoke a powerful adversary.

Fake complacency, inadequacy and subordination until the ideal moment to strike arrives.

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2. Turn your opponent’s house on itself.

Win over influential advisers and incite divisions within the population.

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3. Be patient to achieve victory.

Victory often requires decades of careful, calculated waiting.

Today, China’s leaders are more than happy to play the waiting game.

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4. Steal your opponent’s ideas and technology.

Theft provides a relatively easy, cost-effective means by which a weaker state can usurp power from a more powerful one.

Don’t be hindered by Western-style legal prohibitions and constitutional principles,

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5. Target an enemy’s weak points rather than relying on an accumulation of brute strength.

Military might is not the critical factor for winning a long-term competition.

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6. Beware political states that have a dominant influence or authority over others.

They will take extreme, even reckless action to retain its dominant position and will seek to eliminate all actual and potential challengers.

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7. Deceive others into doing your bidding for you.

Use allies to protect you and proxy states to fight your battles

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8. Establish and employ metrics for measuring your status relative to other potential challengers.

The metrics should be social and political, as well as economic.

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9. Maintain a deeply ingrained sense of paranoia

Always be vigilant to avoid being encircled or deceived by others.

View others suspiciously

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Big takeaway:

China has stayed true to those principles, has made great progress towards their goal and is advancing its cause ahead of its timetable.

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I’ll dive deeper into a couple of those points in subsequent posts.

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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