January 14, 2024

The 'crown jewel' of the Chinese military appears to have a serious corruption problem, but the US can't afford to bet on its missiles all being defective

Source: Business Insider

Journalist: Chris Panella

"The rocket force is the center of gravity for the Chinese military," Tom Shugart, a former US Navy officer who is now an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security think tank, told Business Insider. It's their "crown jewel," especially for conflict over Taiwan or hitting US naval forces and bases in the Pacific.


The People's Liberation Army Rocket Force dismissals last year were shocking, Shugart told Business Insider, in part because they involved replacing force leadership with leaders from other branches of the PLA.

The rocket force shakeups suggest that there are questions over who can be trusted. As other officers within the force weren't tapped to take over, "then that certainly is an indication that there may be some very significant problems," Shugart added.

"That would be like if the President of the United States fired the Chief and Vice Chief of Naval Operations for corruption and replaced them with an Army officer and an Air Force officer," he compared.

"If that's the case," he said, "you have to think, 'Wow, the corruption must be really bad.'"


Shugart said that if Xi really is cleaning house, then that could be good for the PLA in the long run, making China a more effective force.


"If we want to maintain vigilance and exercise caution in ensuring continued deterrence of the Chinese military, then I'd say we shouldn't dismiss its offensive capabilities just on the basis of these reports," Shugart said.

"It isn't clear how long these issues may have been known about within the PLA, and thus whether they may already have been corrected. We also don't know if issues like these have affected other branches of the PLA to anything like this degree — they may have been able to maintain a higher level of combat readiness," he added.

Read the full story and more from Business Insider.


  • Tom Shugart

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Defense Program

    Thomas Shugart is an Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). His research focuses on undersea warfare and maritime com...