Zhang Wenmu [张文木] is a major fixture of the Chinese foreign policy debate.
Unlike many of his colleagues in the Beijing foreign policy scene, he does not frequent seminars and workshops with Western counterparts. He has remained noticeably apart from the “jet-set” of Beijing talking heads that are racking up thousands of airline miles with monthly visits to various think tanks in Washington.
Toiling away at Beihang University (previously the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics), he lacks the academic pedigree of more famous Chinese strategists at Tsinghua, Peking, or Fudan Universities. But maybe this has only increased his reputation as a “real Chinese strategist” that refuses to be dazzled and charmed by Western institutions and doctrines.
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Zhang has unquestionably left a mark on Chinese strategy in the new century. He was one of China’s first genuine “navalists,” calling for Beijing to build an aircraft carrier well before other scholars were willing to get behind the new approach. His 2009 book On Chinese Sea Power [论中国海权] argues that Chinese global commercial power must have a formidable navy to support it, which may one day earn him the title of “China’s Mahan.”