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Military Power of the People's Republic of China

Office of the Secretary of Defense

Military Power of the People's Republic of China

A Report to Congress Pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act Fiscal Year 2000

Section 1202, “Annual Report on Military Power of the People’s Republic of China,” of the
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000, Public Law 106-65, provides that
the Secretary of Defense shall submit a report “on the current and future military strategy
of the People’s Republic of China. The report shall address the current and probable future
course of military-technological development on the People’s Liberation Army and the tenets
and probable development of Chinese grand strategy, security strategy, and military strategy,
and of the military organizations and operational concepts, through the next 20 years.”

Executive Summary

China’s rapid rise over recent years as a regional political and economic power with growing global influence is an important element in today’s strategic landscape, one that has significant implications for the region and the world. The United States welcomes the rise of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous China. No country has done more to assist, facilitate, and encourage China’s national development and its integration in the international system. The United States continues to encourage China to participate as a responsible international stakeholder by taking on a greater share of responsibility for the stability, resilience and growth of the global system. However, much uncertainty surrounds China’s future course, in particular in the area of its expanding military power and how that power might be used.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is pursuing comprehensive transformation from a mass army designed for protracted wars of attrition on its territory to one capable of fighting and winning shortduration, high intensity conflicts along its periphery against high-tech adversaries – an approach that China refers to as preparing for “local wars under conditions of informatization.” China’s ability to sustain military power at a distance remains limited but, as noted in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report, it “has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States and field disruptive military technologies that could over time offset traditional U.S. military advantages.”

China’s near-term focus on preparing for contingencies in the Taiwan Strait, including the possibility of U.S. intervention, is an important driver of its modernization. However, analysis of China’s military acquisitions and strategic thinking suggests Beijing is also developing capabilities for use in other contingencies, such as conflict over resources or disputed territories.

The pace and scope of China’s military transformation have increased in recent years, fueled by acquisition of advanced foreign weapons, continued high rates of investment in its domestic defense and science and technology industries, and far reaching organizational and doctrinal reforms of the armed forces. China’s expanding and improving military capabilities are changing East Asian military balances; improvements in China’s strategic capabilities have implications beyond the Asia-Pacific region.

China’s nuclear force modernization, as evidence by the fielding of the new DF-31 and DF-31A intercontinental-range missiles, is enhancing China’s strategic strike capabilities. China’s emergent anti-access/area denial capabilities – as exemplified by its continued development of advanced cruise missiles, medium-range ballistic missiles, anti-ship ballistic missiles designed to strike ships at sea, including aircraft carriers, and the January 2007 successful test of a direct-ascent, anti-satellite weapon – are expanding from the land, air, and sea dimensions of the traditional battlefield into the space and cyber-space domains.

The international community has limited knowledge of the motivations, decision-making, and key capabilities supporting China’s military modernization. China’s leaders have yet to explain in detail the purposes and objectives of the PLA’s modernizing military capabilities. For example, China continues to promulgate incomplete defense expenditure figures, and engage in actions that appear inconsistent with its declaratory policies. The lack of transparency in China’s military and security affairs poses risks to stability by increasing the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation. This situation will naturally and understandably lead to hedging against the unknown.

Table of Contents

Figure List IV
Glossary of Acronyms V
Chapter One: Key Developments 1
Developments in China’s Grand Strategy, Security Strategy, and Military Strategy 1
Developments in China’s Military Forces 2
Developments in PLA Military Doctrine 5
International Military Exchanges, Exercises, and Interaction 6
Efforts to Acquire Advanced Technologies to Enhance China’s Military Capabilities 6
Taiwan’s Defense Capabilities and Cross-Strait Stability 7
Chapter Two: Understanding China's Strategy 8
Overview 8
Strategy with Chinese Characteristics 8
Insights on China’s Strategy and Priorities 9
Factors Shaping Pathways to China’s Future 13
Chapter Three: China's Military Strategy and Doctrine 16
Overview 16
Military Strategic Guidelines 16
Toward a Comprehensive View of Warfare 19
Secrecy and Deception in PLA Military Strategy 19
Asymmetric Warfighting 20
Chapter Four: Force Modernization Goals and Trends 22
Overview 22
Emerging Area Denial/Anti-Access Capabilities 22
Strategic Capabilities 24
Space and Counterspace 27
Power Projection - Modernizing Beyond Taiwan 29
Chapter Five: Resources for Force Modernization 31
Overview 31
Military Expenditure Trends 31
China's Advancing Defense Industries 33
Foreign Weapons and Technology Acquisition 38
Chapter Six: Force Modernization and Security in the Taiwan Strait 40
Overview 40
China's Strategy in the Taiwan Strait 41
Beijing's Courses of Action Against Taiwan 41
Special Topic: Human Capital in the PLA Force Modernization 45
Overview 45
Emphasizing Reform 45
Looking to the Future 48
Appendix: China and Taiwan Forces Data 50


1 .China’s Territorial Disputes 11
2. China's Critical Sea Lanes 12
3. The First and Second Island Chains 25
4. Medium and Intercontinental Range Ballistic Missiles 26
5. Regional Conventional Missiles 30
6. Defense Expenditures of the PRC: 1996 - 2007 32
7. 2007 Military Budgets of China and Regional Powers 33
8. 2003 to 2007: PRC Increase in Modern Systems 34
9. Taiwan Strait SAM and SRBM Coverage 42
10. Taiwan Strait Military Balance, Ground Forces 50
11. Major Ground Force Units 51
12. Taiwan Strait Military Balance, Air Forces 52
13. Major Air Force Units 53
14. Taiwan Strait Military Balance, Naval Forces 54
15. Major Naval Units 55
16. Inventory of PLAAF Surface-to-Air Missile Launchers 56
17. China’s Missile Force 56

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