April 1, 2013
China’s Forbearance Has Limits: Chinese Threat and Retaliation Signaling and Its Implications for a Sino-American Military Confrontation
Since its founding in 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has employed military force in defense of China’s security and territorial integrity. In many such instances, Beijing implemented a calculus of threat and retaliation signals intended first to deter an adversary from taking actions contrary to Chinese interests by threatening the use of military force and, if deterrence failed, to explain and justify Beijing’s resort to military force.
Oct. 1, 2012
Japan-China Relations 2005–2010: Managing Between a Rock and a Hard Place An Interpretative Essay
Between China and Japan, the past is ever-present. Notwithstanding shared cultural and historic ties, throughout the past century and going back to the Sino-Japanese war at the end of the 19th century, a bitter legacy of history—the Boxer Rebellion; the Mukden Incident and Japan’s occupation of South Manchuria (1931); the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, Japan’s subsequent invasion of China, and the Nanjing Massacre (1937); and the Sino-Japanese War (1937– 1945)—has left an indelible mark on this relationship.
Sept. 1, 2012
Managing Sino-U.S. Air and Naval Interactions: Cold War Lessons and New Avenues of Approach
The United States and China have a complex, multifaceted, and ambiguous relationship where substantial areas of cooperation coexist with ongoing strategic tensions and suspicions. One manifestation involves disputes and incidents when U.S. and Chinese military forces interact within China’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Three high-profile incidents over the last decade have involved aggressive maneuvers by Chinese military and/or paramilitary forces operating in close proximity to deter U.S. surveillance and military survey platforms from conducting their missions. Why do these incidents continue to occur despite mechanisms designed to prevent such dangerous encounters? Could new or different procedures or policies help avoid future incidents?
Dec. 1, 2011
Buy, Build, or Steal: China’s Quest for Advanced Military Aviation Technologies
Although China continues to lag approximately two decades behind the world’s most sophisticated air forces in terms of its ability to develop and produce fighter aircraft and other complex aerospace systems, it has moved over time from absolute reliance on other countries for military aviation technology to a position where a more diverse array of strategies can be pursued. Steps taken in the late 1990s to reform China’s military aviation sector demonstrated an understanding of the problems inherent in high-technology acquisition, and an effort to move forward. However, a decade later it remains unclear how effective these reforms have been. Where are the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and China’s military aviation industry headed? What obstacles must be overcome for China to join the exclusive ranks of those nations possessing sophisticated air forces and aviation industries capable of producing world-class aircraft?
Sept. 1, 2011
The Ongoing Insurgency in Southern Thailand: Trends in Violence, Counterinsurgency Operations, and the Impact of National Politics
Since January 2004, a Malay-Muslim–based insurgency has engulfed the three southernmost provinces in Thailand. More than 4,500 people have been killed and over 9,000 wounded, making it the most lethal conflict in Southeast Asia. Now in its 8th year, the insurgency has settled into a low-level stalemate. Violence is down significantly from its mid-2007 peak, but it has been steadily climbing since 2008. On average, 32 people are being killed and 58 wounded every month. Most casualties are from drive-by shootings, but there are also about 12 improvised explosive device (IED) attacks a month.
Korean Futures: Challenges to U.S. Diplomacy of North Korean Regime Collapse
There is no shortage of plausible scenarios describing North Korean regime collapse or how the United States and North Korea’s neighbors might respond to such a challenge. Yet comparatively little attention has been paid to the strategic considerations that may shape the responses of the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan, China, and Russia to a North Korean crisis. These states are most likely to take action of some kind in the event the North Korean regime collapses. For the ROK (South Korea), North Korean regime collapse presents the opportunity for Korean reunification. For the other states, the outcome in North Korea will affect their influence on the peninsula and their relative weight in Asia. This study identifies the interests and objectives of these principal state actors with respect to the Korean Peninsula. Applying their interests and objectives to a generic scenario of North Korean regime collapse, the study considers possible policies that the principal state actors might use to cope with such a crisis.
Jan. 1, 2011
China’s Out of Area Naval Operations: Case Studies, Trajectories, Obstacles, and Potential Solutions
This study seeks to understand the future direction of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) with regard to out of area deployments and power projection. The assessment is based on the history of past PLAN out of area deployments and an analysis of out of area operations of other military forces. Both short- and long-term lenses are employed to understand the scope and direction of China’s defense planning and strategic decisions.
Sept. 1, 2010
Redefining Success: Applying Lessons in Nuclear Diplomacy from North Korea to Iran
The United States has no good options for resolving the North Korean and Iranian nuclear challenges. Incentives, pressures, and threats have not succeeded. A military strike would temporarily set back these programs, but at unacceptable human and diplomatic costs, and with a high risk of their reconstitution and acceleration. For some policymakers, therefore, the best option is to isolate these regimes until they collapse or pressures build to compel negotiations on U.S. terms. This option has the veneer of toughness sufficient to make it politically defensible in Washington. On closer scrutiny, however, it actually allows North Korea and Iran to continue their nuclear programs unrestrained. It also sacrifices more achievable short-term goals of improving transparency and securing vulnerable nuclear materials to the uncertain long-term goal of denuclearization. Yet these short-term goals are deemed critical to U.S. national security in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).
Aug. 1, 2010
Civil-Military Relations in China: Assessing the PLA’s Role in Elite Politics
This study reviews the last 20 years of academic literature on the role of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Chinese elite politics. It examines the PLA’s willingness to support the continued rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and to obey directives from top party leaders, the PLA’s influence on the selection of China’s top civilian leaders, and the PLA’s ability to shape the domestic political environment. Over the last two decades the discussion of these three issues has largely been shaped by five trends identified in the literature: increasing PLA professionalism, bifurcation of civil and military elites, a reduced PLA role in political institutions, reduced emphasis on political work within the PLA, and increased military budgets. Together, these trends are largely responsible for the markedly reduced role of the PLA in Chinese elite politics.
June 1, 2010
Assessing Chinese Military Transparency
The United States and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region have expressed concerns about China’s expanding military capabilities and called on Beijing to increase transparency on military issues. Chinese officials and military officers argue that Chinese transparency has increased over time and that weaker countries should not be expected to meet U.S. standards of transparency. Lack of an objective method for assessing military transparency has made it difficult to assess these Chinese claims and has inhibited productive dialogues about transparency.