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Military

Chinese Crisis Management


Edited by Andy Gudgel.

November 2004

Brief Synopsis

Over 50 experts on China and the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) gathered at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, from October 1-3, to attend the 2004 Chinese Crisis Management Conference. Cosponsored by the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, and the U.S. Army War College, the conference participants discussed a framework for analyzing Chinese decisionmaking during crises, and examined historical examples of domestic, regional, and international crises and how the Chinese government dealt with them.

Key Insights

• Chinese Communist Party (CCP) decisionmaking is based on consensus opinion within the party. This cumbersome method can result in paralysis and does not allow Chinese leaders to react quickly to crises.
• The decisionmaking process within the CCP is compartmentalized and opaque, even to lower-level Chinese officials. Also, officials are reluctant to give the CCP “bad news.” This has led to incomplete or incorrect information being passed to high-level decisionmakers.
• The signals sent by the Chinese government, both to domestic and foreign audiences, are not as clearcut as the government believes them to be.
• China’s crisis management strategy is geared towards obtaining the maximum political advantage for China, as opposed to resolving the crisis. China tries to define the crisis on its terms in order to shape the resolution favorably.


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