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This paper investigates contemporary Chinese defence thinking from the point of view of its strategic culture. Such an undertaking is timely in view of heightened threat perceptions about a militarily strengthening China. While this paper does not concern itself with addressing such suspicions directly, it hopes to contribute to informed discussion by refocussing the issue onto a larger historical and philosophical screen. An identification of the PRC's traditional strategic thinking in the form of people's war and its philosophical antecedents may not at first appear relevant to contemporary China's security needs. It is the premise of this paper, however, that nothing can ever be attempted to be known about China's intentions and actions without such a survey. Consequently, this paper endeavours to show how the past may still be seen to serve the current era in terms of cultural-philosophical orientation.