11 January 2017
For over a year now, China has been implementing a series of major military reforms aimed at transforming the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into a fully ‘informatized’ fighting force – one capable of conducting sustained joint operations, military operations other than war, and missions related to China’s strategic deterrence to protect China’s core national security interests.
Inherently, the reforms address what is known in China as “two gaps”: the general lack of PLA capabilities compared to advanced global peers or technologically-superior adversaries, and the inability of the PLA to align its capabilities with China’s changing strategic requirements.
At the same time, the reforms are also political, aimed at consolidating Party control over the nearly autonomous military branches, and mitigating entrenched institutional barriers and multiple deficiencies within the PLA, including inter-service rivalries, inadequate training, and ultimately, rampant high-level corruption.
While the reforms should be viewed in the context of China’s gradually evolving military strategy, technological advancement, and institutional change, their scope also reflects the magnitude of problems and challenges that preclude the PLA from realizing Xi Jinping’s “dream of building a strong army.”
… Michael Raska is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies, a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
GPO / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 13/01/2017