Feb. 11, 2019

Chairman Xi Remakes the PLA: Assessing Chinese Military Reforms

China’s current military reforms are unprecedented in their ambition and in the scale and scope of the organizational changes. Virtually every part of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) now reports to different leaders, has had its mission and responsibilities changed, has lost or gained subordinate units, or has undergone a major internal reorganization.

Feb. 8, 2019

Introduction Appendix: Central Military Commission Reforms

This appendix analyzes the organizational logic behind the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) shift from a system centered on a small Central Military Commission (CMC) staff and the four general departments to a much larger post-reform CMC staff that incorporates many of the functions of the former general departments. It also describes the functions of the 15 new CMC departments, commissions, and offices that were announced on January 11, 2016.

Feb. 5, 2019

About the Contributors

About the Contributors from the new NDU Press book "Chairman Xi Remakes the PLA: Assessing Chinese Military Reforms."

Feb. 5, 2019

Conclusion: Assessing Chinese Military Reforms

China’s military reforms are driven by Xi Jinping’s ambition to reshape the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to improve its ability to win informationized wars and to ensure that it remains loyal to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). There is broad political support within the party for Xi’s goal of building a stronger military. The outline of the current military reform agenda was endorsed at the third plenum of the 18th Party Congress in November 2013, and Xi played a central role in working with PLA leaders to develop detailed reorganization plans and implement the reform agenda. At the first meeting of the new leading group on military reform in early 2014, Xi declared that the overriding goal was to produce a military that can “fight and win battles.” The 19th Party Congress work report in October 2017 advanced the timeline for Chinese military modernization, calling for achieving mechanization and making strides on informationization and building strategic capabilities by 2020 and building “world-class forces” [shijie yiliu jun, 世界一流军] by mid-century.

Feb. 5, 2019

System Overload? The 2015 PLA Force Reduction, Military-Locality Relations, and the Potential for Social Instability

Like his predecessors, Xi Jinping has sought to improve the PLA by trimming its size and adjusting its outdated force structure. In their chapter in the new NDU Press book, "Chairman Xi Remakes the PLA: Assessing Chinese Military Reforms," Taiwan National Defense University Professor Ma Chengkun and John Chen describe the regulations in place to handle demobilized PLA soldiers. They assess that relocation problems will be reduced by the ability of local governments to provide educational benefits for ex-PLA members and an anti-corruption campaign that has made some former soldiers ineligible for support.

Feb. 5, 2019

Civil-Military Integrations and PLA Reforms

In his chapter in the new NDU Press book, "Chairman Xi Remakes the PLA: Assessing Chinese Military Reforms," PLA specialist Brian Lafferty provides a comprehensive overview of China’s attempt to close the civilian-military gap, concluding that the “track record suggests that even positive returns will involve a longer and more difficult process than the Party currently acknowledges.”

Feb. 5, 2019

Keeping Up with the Jundui: Reforming the Chinese Defense Acquisition, Technology, and Industrial System

How is China’s military taking advantage of the rapid technical advances being made in the civilian science and technological arena? In his chapter in the new NDU Press book, "Chairman Xi Remakes the PLA: Assessing Chinese Military Reforms," Professor Tai Ming Cheung from UCSD argues that China’s defense industry is becoming an “original innovation leader” that can supply world-class weapons and equipment to China’s combat forces. A key focus of this effort is bridging the institutional divides between China’s civilian science and technological developers, notably in high-tech areas such as IT, robotics, space, and artificial intelligence, and the defense industrial base.

Feb. 5, 2019

The New PLA Leadership: Xi Molds China's Military to His Vision

In another chapter of the new NDU Press book, "Chairman Xi Remakes the PLA: Assessing Chinese Military Reforms, Department of Defense analysts Joel McFadden, Kim Fassler, and Justin Godby address the reshuffling of PLA’s highest command organ, the Central Military Commission, in October 2017. Providing a detailed analysis of the new top brass, they conclude that there is “little doubt that Xi and his generals emerged in a stronger position to steer the PLA towards fulfilling its part in the ‘great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.’”

Feb. 5, 2019

Large and In Charge: Civil-Military Relations under Xi Jinping

One of the key goals of Xi’s military reforms has been to strengthen Chinese Communist Party control over the army. As NDU China specialists Phillip C. Saunders and Joel Wuthnow discuss in their chapter in the new NDU Press book, "Chairman Xi Remakes the PLA: Assessing Chinese Military Reforms," this goal was pursued in several ways: enhancing supervision of officers, reinforcing political education, and encouraging stronger interagency cooperation. Xi has also used a variety of political tools to enhance his own authority, including compensating losers and targeting opponents through an anti-corruption campaign.

Feb. 5, 2019

China's Strategic Support Force: A Force for a New Era

One of the key PLA organizational innovations under XI Jinping has been the creation of a new command responsible for operations in the information domain—the Strategic Support Force. It consolidates a number of functions previously scattered in different parts of the PLA covering operations in the space, cyber, electronic warfare, and psychological warfare arenas. In their chapter in the new NDU Press book, "Chairman Xi Remakes the PLA: Assessing Chinese Military Reforms," PLA experts John Costello and Joe McReynolds document the SSF’s background, structure, missions, and leadership. While the SSF aims to fulfill important roles, such as providing intelligence to warfighters, enabling power projection, and supporting strategic defense, the authors conclude on a skeptical note: the “new centralization of information power may be more a function of persistent paranoia and the need for control than a desire to explore innovative means of warfighting.”