The People’s Republic of China (PRC) celebrated the 95th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on August 1. Formed in 1927 during the Nanchang Rebellion as an armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the PLA has become a force to reckon with in the Indo-Pacific region today. It is the largest armed force in the world with approximately 2.03 million active and 510,000 reserve personnel. Its current chairman, Xi Jinping, who is also the president of China and general secretary of the CCP, called in 2017 to make the PLA a world-class power by 2049 – a term he has yet to define. Remains. The best guess is that the Chinese armed forces will be on par with the US, British, French, Russian and even Indian armed forces in some aspects.
It has been more than five years since Xi used the term, and recent speeches by CMC leaders, a few Chinese-language publications, Chinese theoretical writings, and analyzes by Western scholars help us to understand this in part. are what China is trying to achieve with the PLA. These are the three things the CCP wants the PLA to develop at the age of 95 as it aims to become a world-class armed force by 2049. First, on November 7, 2020, the CMC released a new outline of joint operations to the Chinese public. Liberation Army (Trial).
Analysis by Joel Wutnow and M Taylor Fravel confirms that China changed its military strategy in 2019, even before issuing new military guidelines in November 2020. and operational. Simply put, it emphasizes the PLA’s current and new roles, responsibilities, and approach to its military strategic directions—primarily “reunification” with Taiwan and one of its secondary directions with India. There is a border dispute.
The work of David M. Finkelstein suggests that the outline may include principles for joint operations, peacetime and wartime preparation, the technology required for it, and the mobilization to conduct it. From this, we understand that the CCP calls on the PLA to focus more on what it calls “coordinated joint operations” (zònghé liánhé xíngdòng), in which various forces (army, navy, air force, strategic support, etc.) ), theater commands and smaller units work together across different locations, terrains, and verticals.
Second, China slightly changed its 1993 military strategy in 2014 to “win local information wars.” It emphasizes the role of information in warfare and justifies the organizational reforms that the CMC has undergone since Xi came to power. Subsequent defense white papers indicate that China assessed the evolution of warfare and concluded that these changes required survival in an informed environment. The 2019 Defense White Papers claim that “information now plays a critical role in warfare and is no longer just a prerequisite.” Earlier, the 2015 Defense White Paper asserted that information warfare requires information dominance within the cyber, space, and electromagnetic domains and advanced capabilities to carry out all operational and support activities. Dependence is placed on the use of information technology.
Simply put, the PLA’s current transformations and operational doctrine are based on aspirations to become a force that conducts coordinated joint operations and uses a mix of offensive and defensive concepts to dominate information in both wartime and peacetime. The PLA Strategic Support Force (PLA SSF) was formed in 2016 to potentially achieve breakthroughs in these domains. The CCP thus calls on the PLA to dominate information in a comprehensive and focused manner, moving towards becoming a world-class force by 2049.
Third, China’s overseas presence and changing naval strategy are also important considerations for making the PLA a world-class power. Mao Zedong had clearly stated that China would not establish a military presence in any foreign land. Today, however, China already has a naval outpost in Djibouti in East Africa. The PRC is also very close to establishing naval outposts on the Solomon Islands and Cambodia. Additionally, the US Department of Defense’s 2021 Annual Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Related to the People’s Republic of China noted that China has expanded to Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola, and Tajikistan, as locations for future PLA facilities.
In addition to these three key aspects, the PLA’s evolving training regimes, reform of its personnel policy—one of the most under-discussed and ambiguous aspects of the PLA’s ongoing reforms and its contingency planning (strategic Factors such as China’s national interests, PLA missions, and geopolitical threat assessment along with operational- and campaign-level factors) are key aspects on which the CMC and the PLA must achieve world-class force status by 2049. will work.
Suyash Desai is a research scholar specializing in Chinese security and foreign policies. He is currently studying Mandarin at National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan.
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