Sea Control in the Age of Intelligence
Issue 32, 23 May 2022
My colleague Manoj Kewalaramani and I have launched our project "Tracking PLA Members in CPC Central Committee."
The Project documents the current distribution of PLA officers in the 19th Central Committee (19th CC). It seeks to analyze the changes that are likely in terms of the PLA’s representation in the 20th Central Committee.
This is a dynamic project, which will be developed in parts over the course of the year leading up to the 20th Party Congress. In the first part, we have plotted the distribution of PLA members in the 19th CC. Further analyses about potential retirements and promotions will follow in subsequent parts.
I hope you have fun exploring the project page. Comments, feedback, brickbats, and suggestion on the project are welcome!
I. Military and Warfare
Sea Control in the Age of Intelligence
Next in a series of articles exploring the role of conventional warfare concepts in the age of intelligent warfare, we have an article by Zhuang Congyong (affiliation unknown) on sea control in the age of intelligent warfare. A key takeaway from the article is that the future struggle for sea control/ maritime control is no longer a single competition for domination of the sea, and dimensions of combat space have expanded.
Important themes highlighted by the author:
Position of Maritime Control: Upgrade from "restricting the war situation" to "shaping the pattern +" (地位作用：从“制约战局”向“塑造格局+”升级)
As emerging countries assert more freedom of maritime action role of the struggle for sea control has become more prominent. Hence, the trend of maritime control is shifting from "restricting the war situation" to shaping regional and international patterns.
The author asserts that emerging countries have the right to control the sea, so they can win local maritime wars in wartime, protect their legitimate and legitimate interests from being infringed, create a stable environment in peacetime, and play a supporting role in maintaining regional and world peace. The author emphasizes that this is necessary for the building of a community with a shared future for the ocean, and promotes the early formation of a new type of international relations system for win-win cooperation.
How to get it: From "controlling the sea" to "global control of sea+" (获取途径：从“以海制海”向“全域制海+”拓展)
A key point here is that era of controlling the sea using only traditional warfare is over. In the future, to compete for "global control of the sea +" land, air, and sky control of the sea will be required.
Main Battle Force: Transformation from "Surface Ship" to "Ocean Platform+" (主战兵力：从“水面舰艇”向“海洋平台+”转变)
Unlike conventional wisdom of 'big ships and big guns', the era of intelligent warfare is more about building multifunctional combat platforms. Hence large-scale maritime combat platforms and aircraft carriers, "aircraft carrier strike groups", "amphibious expeditionary groups" and "destroyer and frigate battle groups", unmanned combat groups are being developed based on the operational requirements.
Additionally, various combat satellites, unmanned combat systems, and other military forces can be used for sea and airstrikes form an integrated maritime joint combat system.
Competing for space: Expansion from "ocean plane" to "three-dimensional space +" (争夺空间：从“海洋平面”向“立体空间+”扩展)
The author asserts that unlike the previous era of warfare, information-based warfare is characterized by information-led, integrated, systematic operations, and seizure of comprehensive control. Intangible fields such as electromagnetic networks and psychological cognition have become important. If the threats from these multi-dimensional spaces are not effectively dealt with, the combat forces of surface ships, including aircraft carriers, will inevitably suffer. Hence, a future struggle for sea control is no longer a single competition for sea level space, and its combat space dimension will be greatly expanded.
To dominate sea operations in both tangible and intangible space is needed. For tangible space, the struggle is for control of the sea and sky by rational deployment and use of troops. In intangible space, a battle is to control the information network power, control psychological cognition, and control intellectual power. This involves information attack and defense, electromagnetic network protection, and the legal struggle of public opinion.
Combat method: From "Decisive Battle at Sea" to "Destruction at Sea +" (作战方式：从“海上决战”向“海上破击+”嬗变)
Earlier, the battle for the sea used to be for absolute dominance. In information-based and intelligent maritime local warfare, the pursuit of absolute sea dominance is no longer an inevitable requirement, and the destruction system has become the basic operational guidance.
The focus of the maritime battle is not brute force, it is on dominating the sea by paralyzing the opponent's combat system through precise strikes. Such operations not only ensure the smooth progress of the battle but also have a lower cost and allow control.
Hold Time: Extending from "Wartime Control" to "Peacetime Build+" (保持时间：从“战时控制”向“平时构建+”延伸)
This quote from the article sums up the importance of sea dominance in the current era. "In the past maritime wars, the acquisition of sea dominance was mainly to provide support and cover for other forces in maritime operations, and the duration of sea domination was only from the beginning of the war to the end of the war. With the improvement of the strategic status of the ocean, major countries need to use the ocean to support the strong development of the country,. Hence the duration of maritime activities will be prolonged and safety expectations have increased." (以往海上战争中，获取制海权主要是为海上作战其他兵力提供支援掩护，制海权持续时间从战争开始至战争结束即可。随着海洋战略地位的提升，主要国家需要利用海洋支撑国家强大发展，海上活动的持续时间延长，除了要维护海上航线安全外，还要保护海洋勘探开发、防范海洋利益遭受侵损等，对海洋安全期望值增大。)
Hence, sea domination is not just a wartime activity now it has become a peacekeeping exercise too. Moreover, sea domination has become necessary for deterrence, control of important strait passages, and maritime security governance.
Do you remember that Star Trek episode where a slimy creature kills Starfleet Officer Tasha Yar? Well, researchers of the University of Hong Kong have created a 'Slimy Robot' which eerily reminded me of that episode.
PLA daily reported that this robot has been tested to not only pass through the slit of only 1.5mm intact, but it can also enter the human body, take out foreign objects swallowed accidentally, and even act as a "band-aid" to repair disconnected wires.
Here is the video of "Slime Robot" (“机器人史莱姆”) posted by SCMP: Magnetic-slime robot created by Hong Kong researchers.
Translation: One month after the implementation of new regulations on algorithms
What was the reaction of tech platforms after the Chinese government regulated the recommendations algorithm? Here is a translation of an article published in April 2022 on the response of companies to China's stringent regulations of recommendation algorithms used by tech platforms. I highly recommend reading the translation of the article done by Jeffery Ding.
Megha Pardhi is a Research Analyst at The Takshashila Institution. She tweets at @pardhimegha21.