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Beijingfuturesdreams, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

China Trend Analysis I : Military Development in the People’s Republic of China (PRC)

Part II: China’s official policy and global views
China’s military, also known as the People’s Liberation Army, does not fall under the direct control of the state. Rather, it represents the armaments and personnel of the Communist Party, and reports to the CPC’s Central Military Commission (CMC). Though a state Ministry of Defense does exist within the national government, it has no real power in controlling the PLA, its deployment, or its strategic development.
Official military policy and strategies issued by the Chinese government are therefore extensions of the communist regime and the ideals and philosophies born therein. It’s stated purpose in it last official white paper release concerning military development is surmised here:

“At the new stage in the new century, we will take the scientific development outlook as an important guiding principle for the building of national defense and military affairs, vigorously advance the revolution in military affairs with Chinese features, and strive to realize an all-round, coordinated and sustainable development in our country's national defense and military capabilities.” China National Defense in 2006

This quotation is directly followed by an outline of China’s push to update its military into a modern force. A briefly summary of what this entails is below.

I. Ground Forces
The PLA’s ground forces currently stand at approximately 2.3 million members. Estimates state an additional million soldiers could be called in from reserves. Policy has raised the levels of training intensity, modern technological equipment, and flexibility of organization in the PLA, while concurrently lowering their membership considerably. Their stated intension is to make “progress towards the goal of being proper in size, optimal in structure, streamlined in organization, swift and flexible in command, and powerful in fighting capacity.”

II. Air Force
China’s Air Force is also modernizing at a rapid rate through cooperation with foreign nations, the purchasing of outside technologies, and most importantly the growth of “indigenous” innovation. They are currently outfitting many of the dated components of their air fleet as pilotless reconnaissance and combat vehicles. Also, a number of fighter-bombers and other multi-functional aircraft bastion China’s aviation inventory, including the indigenously developed Jian-10 fighter.

III. Naval Power
As China’ become more concerned with the security of their shipping lanes, they continue to modernize their Naval armaments with rapidity. Some investment has come in the form of procurement and study of Russian carrier and submarine technologies. However, China’ has also been very successful in developing their own craft including the Shang-, Jin-, Han-, Xia-, Song-, and Yuan- submarine class. These represent both diesel-electric and nuclear powered vessels, some of which have the capability of carrying parts of China’s nuclear arsenal. They have also developed many technology upgrades for their surface fleet including improved scanning and targeting from a distance, and anti-air warfare capabilities.

IV. “Informationization”
Secrecy abounds over the PLA’s push to “informationize” the entirety of their armed forces. However, this increase in information technology capability, has also opened the door to defensive strategies aimed at the communications and logistical capabilities of opposing forces. Termed an ”assassins mace” in some PLA journals, these strategies are aimed at the networks of information, both accessible and alterable, from a computer. This blanket term is also used time and again throughout the nation’s 2006 statement on military affairs in regards to the upgrading of technologies deemed necessary in winning a war between computers.

V. Other
China’s official strategy also outlines plans for reform in the civil service aspect fo their armed forces. The continual development of the Judicial System will be focused on the refinement and addition of new laws. These laws are aimed at making “… a military legal system… take shape which covers multiple aspects, and is coherent, scientific, closely knit and well-designed.”
Additionally, changes within the Institutionalized Education structure of the PLA have required the closing of some schools, and the bolstering of other more successful programs. The PLA operates 67 institutes of higher education, 41 of which are authorized to award doctorate degrees, and 61 of which award masters degrees.
Technologically, China has been heavily active in Space systems development. Plans for additional manned space operations, continued collaborations with the international space community, and development of a fully capable satellite deployment operation lead China’s priorities in this sector. Their ASAT test in January of 2007 demonstrated that they are actively pursuing defenses against surveillance satellites already in orbit.

Global View Brief

Overall, the PRC proclaims that it is in pursuit of a peaceful and cooperative development economically, socially, and globally. Their military stratagem are based on this theory, and the CMC views all modernization efforts as appropriate measures in bolstering national security and defense against outside aggressors.

The United Nations, European Union, and other international organizations are currently quiet about China’s growing military strength. While individual neighbor states have territorial disputes with the PRC, there are no consolidated forces standing in opposition to China’s military moves or policies.

China currently holds a permanent set on the United Nations Security Council (currently the only Asian representative on the panel), and with that seat veto power. Additionally, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a partnership between China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, is playing an increasingly significant role in the security of the Central Asian Region, and thusly the global oil trade.

Related Text:
China's National Defense 2006 (official document of PRC)

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