China military
Military delegates arrive at the Great Hall of the People for a meeting ahead of the opening ceremony of the National People’s Congress (NPC), in Beijing, China, on March 4.REUTERS/Jason Lee

A recent report from the US Congressional Research Service outlines China’s 2.3 million-member armed forces and sheds light on misconceptions from Western military analysts.

Simply put, the report challenges the idea that Westerners can understand China’s military and foreign-policy decisions without first understanding Chinese philosophy and culture of warfare.

Unlike the US, China has a media apparatus controlled by the state, so its military reports lack the transparency established by a free press.

China also has a fundamentally different understanding of aggression. For the Chinese, there is little difference between peacetime and wartime cyber espionage, and they have engaged in stealing military secrets from the US and others because they can.

The report, written by Ian E. Rinehart, a CRS analyst in Asian affairs, urges Congress and military leadership to examine a “Chinese way of war.”

Specifics of the report, detailed below, show how China has stepped up to rival the US’s military might in the Pacific:

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