Research Report


Roy Kamphausen
David Lai
Travis Tanner
Copyright Date: Apr. 1, 2014
Pages: 544
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. vii-viii)

    It is my pleasure to introduce this 2013 publication by the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) of the U.S. Army War College, the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), and the United States Pacific Command, focusing on A Retrospective of the People’s Liberation Army in the Hu Jintao Era (2002-12). The papers in this book provide a valuable and insightful review of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) many impressive advances over the past decade. Solid scholarship on changes taking place in the PLA helps us understand how the Chinese view the employment of military power to support broader policy aims. A...

  2. (pp. 1-30)
    David Lai and Roy Kamphausen

    The 2012 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conference took place at a time when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was making its leadership transition from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping. The agenda of the conference took advantage of this occasion and focused the conference discussion on the developments in China’s national security and the PLA during the Hu Jintao administration from 2002 to 2012. The participants of the conference also reflected on the future of China’s military modernization under Xi Jinping.

    While a comprehensive analysis of these subject matters would be ideal, the participants had nevertheless singled out some key areas...

  3. (pp. 31-80)
    Daniel M. Hartnett

    This chapter examines a set of missions provided to the Chinese military in 2004 and the impact these missions have had on the military’s development and activities since then. It argues that these new missions mark a significant turning point for China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Besides reinforcing traditional objectives such as maintaining Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule and defending China’s sovereign territory, the new missions for the first time require the PLA to defend China’s expanding overseas interests. As a result, the PLA has sought to adapt itself to these new requirements by broadening its geographic and...

  4. (pp. 81-128)
    Dennis J. Blasko

    This chapter examines the continuing relevance of People’s War, Active Defense, and Offshore Defense to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) doctrine, organization, and operations. The principles of People’s War and Active Defense, along with its naval component, Offshore Defense continue to be the basis for Chinese military organization, doctrine, and operations. All have been adapted and modified for the 21st century.

    People’s War principles are evident in the distribution of personnel among the services in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), its equipment inventory, the structure of the chain of command at Military District level and below, and the continuing emphasis on...

  5. (pp. 129-170)
    Christopher P. Twomey

    While China has deployed significant anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) capabilities, its development of doctrinal concepts to wield those capabilities remains underdeveloped, although doctrinal developments in other directions have continued. These, along with many high profile Chinese weapons programs, suggest China’s view of modern maritime warfare continues to evolve and often are drawing on imported ideas that will prove challenging for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to internalize in the near term.

    Central to China’s approach to facing American military capabilities in East Asia has been the development of what the United States has characterized as the Chinese A2/AD forces....

  6. (pp. 171-206)
    Wanda Ayuso and Lonnie Henley

    The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues its long transition toward truly “integrated joint operations” (“一体化联合作战”), but has made less progress to date than Chinese military leaders would wish. In the early-2000s, PLA leadership established a goal of achieving “major progress” toward “informatized armed forces” by 2020 and fully modernizing the force by the mid-21st century.¹ In 2006, Hu Jintao issued guidance on transforming PLA training by training commanders and staff on joint operations concepts. PLA efforts toward joint operations since 2008 have centered on: developing faculty expertise in military educational institutions; getting PLA commanders to think in terms of joint...

  7. (pp. 207-256)
    Joe McReynolds and James Mulvenon

    This chapter examines Chinese military informatization under Hu Jintao, with an emphasis on the integration of military and civilian informatization efforts as well as the evolution of Hu’s informatization strategy from that of his predecessor, Jiang Zemin. During Hu’s term, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fully embraced informatization as a central guiding principle of military theory and doctrine, an underlying firmament uniting PLA concepts such as the revolution in military affairs (RMA) with Chinese characteristics, integrated joint operations, civil-military integration, and system-of-systems warfare, and tying them to China’s broader civilian informatization effort. However, this theoretical sophistication masks significant operational deficits,...

  8. (pp. 257-300)
    Nan Li

    This chapter examines China’s naval strategy and capabilities in the Hu Jintao Era. It addresses issues such as Hu’s contributions to naval strategy; the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) missions, priority, and operational concepts; and PLAN’s changing capabilities and factors that can account for changes.

    For naval strategy, Hu has made two contributions. He requires the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to safeguard China’s newly emerging overseas interests, which defines PLAN’s far-seas missions; and he endorsed the concept of information systems-based system of systems operations, which impacts how PLAN conducts operations. Between far-seas and near-seas missions, however, PLAN strategists believe that...

  9. (pp. 301-354)
    Michael S. Chase

    This chapter assesses the doctrine and capabilities of China’s strategic missile force—the People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Force (PLASAF)—during the Hu Jintao era. During the Hu Jintao era, Second Artillery made impressive progress in doctrinal development, force modernization, and training, emerging as a cornerstone of China’s growing military power. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) published important volumes elaborating its doctrine for missile force deterrence operations and campaigns. After decades of vulnerability, PLASAF’s deployment of road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) enhanced the survivability of the nuclear missile force and strengthened the credibility of China’s strategic deterrent. The Hu era...

  10. (pp. 355-398)
    Neil J. Diamant

    Relying mainly on blog posts and military websites, this chapter examines protesting, petitioning, and other forms of activism among People’s Liberation Army (PLA) veterans, and the frequent repression of these protests, as an important way of gauging the social, political, and cultural status of the military during the Hu Jintao era.

    Looking to move beyond propagandistic images of heroic soldiers in the official media, I find that, overall, many PLA veterans have had difficulty adjusting to the massive changes in the reform period, many of them finding themselves in a precarious position in the state and society. The chapter further...

  11. (pp. 399-440)
    Timothy R. Heath

    The CCP’s decision to define itself as a “governing party” at the start of the Hu Jintao era represented a critical shift in the dynamics underpinning the party’s leadership of the military. During the era of Hu Jintao, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) deepened reforms that bolstered its ability to lead a professionalizing military. The reforms aimed to strengthen the CCP as an organization, render party-military relations more functional and resilient, and improve the CCP’s ability to provide strategic leadership. These changes have enabled a greater degree of dynamism and flexibility in the CCP’s leadership of the People’s Liberation Army...

  12. (pp. 441-532)
    Kenneth Allen

    Military diplomacy under Hu Jintao clearly expanded in scope and achieved more international visibility, indicating that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is doing a better job of influencing how foreign countries view and interact with it. The purpose of this chapter is to identify and assess international initiatives by the PLA from the time Hu Jintao became the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) Central Committee’s Military Commission (Central Military Commission [CMC]) in September 2004, after having served as one of the three Vice Chairmen since 2002, until Xi Jinping, who had served as a Vice Chairman since October...