August 14, 2019

The Chinese Military Reforms and Transforms in the “New Era”

By Elsa B. Kania

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been undergoing a far-reaching transformation with strategic implications for the military balance in the region and beyond. Starting in 2015, the PLA has been undertaking historic reforms that have involved extensive restructuring of the force. [1] The 2015 People’s Republic of China (PRC) national defense white paper (NDWP), titled “China’s Military Strategy,” had confirmed revisions to the PLA’s military strategic guidelines, while previewing the direction that Chinese military reforms have since taken (China Brief, July 2, 2015; Ministry of National Defense, May 26, 2015). In July 2019, the PRC issued its first official NDWP in four years, “China’s National Defense in the New Era” (Ministry of National Defense, July 24). This new NDWP is directed towards purposes of signaling and propaganda, while revealing PRC ambitions to reshape the global security architecture (China Brief, July 31). However, it declines to provide much in the way of substantive transparency beyond only limited updates on PLA reforms. Nonetheless, a careful reading of “China’s National Defense in the New Era” reveals notable insights and indications of the evolution of PRC interests, the progression of PLA reforms, and new directions in Chinese military modernization.

Read the full article in The Jamestown Foundation's China Brief.

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