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Executive Summary


25 2013

Since its founding in 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has employed military force in defense of China’s security and territorial integrity. In many such instances, Beijing implemented a calculus of threat and retaliation signals intended first to deter an adversary from taking actions contrary to Chinese interests by threatening the use of military force and, if deterrence failed, to explain and justify Beijing’s resort to military force. This deterrence calculus was applied in each of the major instances in which Beijing has resorted to military force—in Korea in 1950, in the Sino-Indian border dispute in 1961–1962, in the Sino-Soviet border dispute in 1968–1969, and in China’s attack on northern Vietnam in 1979. It was also applied in instances in which Beijing’s effort at deterrence apparently succeeded and China ultimately stopped short of using military force. Examples include China’s responses to the intensifying American combat effort in Vietnam in 1965–1968 and to the 1991 debates in Taipei about delimiting the Republic of China’s sovereignty claims