By Kenneth Allen, Phillip C. Saunders, and John Chen
China Strategic Perspectives 11
July 17, 2017 —
Excel file with data used in Chinese Military Diplomacy, 2003–2016.
China is placing increasing emphasis on military diplomacy to advance its foreign policy
objectives and shape its security environment.
Military diplomacy is subordinate to and intended to serve national foreign policy objectives,
which determine the relative priority the PLA places on regions and individual countries.
Most PLA diplomatic activity consists of senior-level meetings carried out by the Defense
Minister, the Chief of General Staff (now Chief of the Joint Staff), and the Deputy Chief of
General Staff (now Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff) who handles foreign affairs and intelligence.
The PLA engages in nontraditional security cooperation with a range of partners to demonstrate
that a stronger PLA can play a positive regional security role.
The PLA has begun to participate in more combat-related exercises and competitions with
Russia and Central Asian countries.
PLA military diplomacy is focused primarily on major powers such as Russia and the
United States and on Asian countries on China’s periphery.
Military diplomatic activity does not necessarily translate into influence, and many routine
activities may not be significant. Activity may reflect the quality of bilateral relations rather than
be a means of developing them.
Military diplomacy can help establish communications and crisis management mechanisms
with China and may also encourage Chinese adherence to international rules and norms.
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