A lack of recent experience in combat is often characterized as a major liability and potential disadvantage for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in any future conflict scenario.  Despite notable advances in its capabilities in recent years, apparent shortcomings remain in the “software” of the PLA’s training and readiness, and perhaps even its will to fight and courage (China Brief, December 1, 2016). The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has not been at war since its 1979 conflict with Vietnam—of which several current military leaders, including members of the Central Military Commission, are veterans—and there are intense concerns today about the perils of “peace disease.” Today, the PLA’s contemporary experiences in military operations other than war (MOOTW), including counter-piracy and peacekeeping operations, offer only limited experience of direct relevance to potential high-end conflict scenarios. In future fights, the PLA could confront a range of difficulties that could include the apparent rigidity of its command structure, and the relative inexperience of its officers and enlisted personnel. Despite major reforms, the PLA could continue to struggle with joint operations, even as it seeks to leverage a new doctrinal approach that is still being formulated (Diplomat, June 6, 2017). At the same time, the PLA is redoubling its efforts in military innovation, rapidly developing and looking to operationalize emerging technologies—particularly artificial intelligence (AI)—that may require major adaptations in concepts, structures, and training.
Read the full article in The Jamestown Foundation's China Brief.
More from CNAS
CommentaryStemming the Flow: The United States Needs a Strategy to Address China’s Strategic Exportation of Digital Authoritarianism
Many of China’s technology companies perfect their products in the domestic market by facilitating the party-state’s oppression and data control, and subsequently seek to expo...
By Joshua Fitt
VideoUnderstanding China’s Military-Civil Fusion strategy
Elsa Kania discusses myths she has seen about China’s Military-Civil Fusion strategy and the actual scope of MCF in China....
By Elsa B. Kania
PodcastTop Trump administration official's advice to India on China, Quad
Lisa Curtis was interviewed for the In Focus Podcast with The Hindu's Diplomatic Affairs Editor Suhasini Haidar. Listen to the full interview from The Hindu....
By Lisa Curtis
CommentaryThe U.S.’s China Strategy Needs New Tools
Policymakers maintain an unparalleled capacity to push back using sanctions, export controls and investment restrictions. Trade, however, presents a unique dilemma....
By Jordan Schneider & David Talbot