The economics of peace and war in the Chinese military classics

Matthew McCaffrey

Abstract


While some classics of Chinese military and strategic thought, like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, are well-studied by researchers and business professionals, lesser-known works in China’s military canon have been neglected. This article surveys seven major ancient Chinese texts and discusses the contribution of each to the political economy of peace and war. As a rule, the writings stress the importance of nonviolent conflict resolution and advocate the avoidance of war whenever possible. In addition, they also consider the role of the state in war-making, especially its methods of war finance and attempts to encourage or discourage economic activity. They generally warn the state to limit its expenditure and impositions on the population so as to encourage the production of resources for use in military campaigns, should they become necessary. [JEL codes: B11, H2, H56]


Keywords


Chinese history; military strategy; war finance; political economy of war; Art of War

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15355/epsj.10.1.23

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