Observations on PLA Studies

Written by Peter Mattis. As China’s military modernization accelerated throughout the 1990s and 2000s, an outpouring of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) publications threatened to drown specialists in data. These sources, many of them available on the internet, have been a boon for analysts, providing information on order of battle, organizational structure, officer biographies, write-ups of …

China’s military parade is an error of judgement

Written by Steve Tsang. Whenever the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) departs from routine protocol, it is usually highly significant. Today’s military parade in Beijing, which marks 70 years since the defeat of Japan in the Second World War, is no exception. It is only China’s fourth military parade since the Mao era; it is the …

The 70th Anniversary of Japan’s surrender

Written by Hans Van de Ven. On August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced in his first ever radio broadcast that he had instructed his cabinet ‘to communicate to the governments of the USA, UK, China, and the Soviet Union that Our Empire accepts the provisions of their Joint Declaration’. This was the Potsdam Declaration in which …

China’s receding regional ambitions?

Written by Mark Beeson. Few would disagree with the idea that China is a rising power with great international ambitions. For many policymakers, commentators and citizens in China, restoring its greatness and accustomed centrality in East Asian affairs is a crucial and entirely legitimate goal. In this context, China’s immediate neighbourhood provides an important testing ground …

Why Fresh Thinking on the South China Sea is a Problem

Written by Kerry Brown. Almost certainly one of the headaches that a new American president will have to start engaging with when they finally come into office in a year and a half’s time will be the complex claims and counter-claims over sovereignty and maritime borders in the South and East China Sea. Issues that once …

China’s New S-400 SAM: Implications for Taiwan

Written by Michal Thim. June 1982 is a watershed in the history of modern air power for two reasons. First, it was probably the first and so far the last deployment of surface-to-air missile systems (SAM) with the intent to use them for offensive purposes (“offensive AD”) — that is, the denial of use of …

PLA Operations against Precision Asymmetric Warfare

Written by Jeffrey Lin. China’s military modernization has been characterized by Western observers as being centered on “anti-access/area denial” (A2/AD), which is intended to deny access to sea and air expeditionary forces in the waters near China. But other Asian countries are building their own asymmetric warfare strategies to counter China’s regional power projection capabilities. …

China’s Incomplete Military Transformation

Written by Jeffrey Engstrom and Michael S. Chase. In a recent RAND study sponsored by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which we co-authored with our colleagues Scott Harold, Kristen Gunness, Susan Puska, Tai Ming Cheung, and Sam Berkowitz, we argued that although the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has made very impressive progress over …

Xi Jinping’s carrots and sticks approach to the PLA

Written by Michael Reilly. Among all the announcements during and surrounding last week’s meetings in Beijing of the National People’s Congress, referred to colloquially as the liang hui, two in particular had foreign policy analysts reaching for their tea cups to read the leaves. On the eve of the Congress, the Central Military Commission published …

Xi trains his sights on the PLA

Written by Samantha Hoffman. On 31 March, state media reported that General Gu Junshan, former deputy director of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General Logistics Department, had been charged with “suspicion of corruption, bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power”. This gives Gu the distinction of becoming the highest-ranking PLA official to be publicly charged in the …