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 and the Global Great Game: New Order not New Imperialism

Written by Grant Dawson. China’s recent stock-market crisis has undermined international confidence in China as a sure and steady engine of economic growth. The image many now have is of China exporting uncertainty, in addition to everything from toys to high-speed rail infrastructure. This is largely an over-reaction. The crash erased USD 4.5 trillion in …

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 …

War-Monger or Judicious Realist ? Liu Mingfu as Historically-Minded America Watcher

Written by Niv Horesh. The publication of Liu Mingfu’s China Dream in English this month makes for an opportune occasion to take stock of his ideas critically.[1] In 2010, the Chinese language version of the book by the retired colonel (b. 1951) caused quite a sensation with his sub-title reading: ‘soldiers must speak out’. Though it is …

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 …

China’s Role in UN Peacekeeping: A Robust Shift?

Written by Chin-Hao Huang. In September 2014, China made an historic announcement that it would send a 700-strong infantry force to South Sudan as part of a UN peacekeeping mission. The decision came just eight months after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) sent a motorized infantry brigade to Mali, another historic first in China’s involvement in …

Norm Consumer, Norm Entrepreneur: China in the UN Peacekeeping Regime

Written by Courtney J. Fung. There are almost 130,000 UN peacekeepers in the field today, with over two thirds in active conflict zones. The United Nations is now in charge of the second largest fielded ‘army’ in the world, spread across sixteen diverse missions. China is a key UN player. A veto-empowered state, often leading …

China’s ‘Malacca Dilemma’ and the future of the PLA

Written by Malcolm Davis. The life-blood of China’s economy is energy. Without access to energy resources, China’s economy will slow, and its prosperity will wane, it will become more vulnerable to internal social and political disorder and the CCP’s grip on power will weaken.[1] Therefore, ensuring China’s energy security affects its foreign and defence policy, …

China’s neighbours embrace asymmetric warfare

Written by Michal Thim. Asymmetry is the new black, at least among defense analysts dealing with the Asia-Pacific. Asymmetrical warfare is an age-old concept. Recently, however, it has been mostly associated with insurgent groups or guerrillas capitalizing on their familiarity with irregular terrain in hit-and-run operations against regular government forces. As employed by terrorist groups …

China’s Defense Budget is Going Up? Who Cares?

Written by Harry J. Kazianis. Recently China issued its latest defense budget numbers revealing a 12.2% increase in funding for that nation’s armed forces. While many pundits quickly took to the pages of various blogs and op-ed pages—some of which offered some finely balanced and tight analysis—I had a different take: Who cares? OK, let …