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Peaceful Rise
Xi Retools China’s Military

President Xi Jinping has taken on the task of turning China’s military into a fighting force for a new era of Chinese power. The WSJ has some details on specifics:

Under his new plan, Mr. Xi, who heads that commission, is trying to shift power to naval, air and missile forces, which are vital for his ambitions to enforce territorial claims in Asia and protect China’s swelling economic interests elsewhere. He is doing that by forming new service branches and downgrading the status of the Army.

He is wresting power from senior generals by dismantling command structures including the PLA’s seven “Military Regions” and four “General Departments,” through which its officers have for years wielded authority, resisted central oversight and sometimes lined their pockets.

He is taking direct command of combat operations: Official media named him for the first time as “commander-in-chief” of a new joint battle command center that he visited on Wednesday in a rare appearance in camouflage fatigues and combat boots.

And he is trimming 300,000 of the PLA’s 2.3 million troops, a move he announced last year, the biggest cut in two decades. That means putting out of work large numbers of soldiers experienced with weapons, just as the state sector, which absorbed previous troops cuts, also plans to lay off millions.

We’ve been following the ins and outs of the grumbles bubbling up out of the PLA’s ranks since Xi first announced the cuts. But the WSJ article makes plain just how ambitious and far-reaching the reorganization will be. Reforming an institution as big and powerful as China’s military is a perilous task. (Indeed, look no further than this piece by Sulmaan Khan from last year to see just how contentious the reforms could ned up being.)


A military modernizing for global dominance, a dictator consolidating his power, an unstable economy, and an America tired of being the world’s policeman. These are not the ingredients for a new era of world peace.

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  • lukelea

    Global or regional? China has too few friends to go global.

  • Blackbeard

    The whole point of the Communist Party in China has been to ensure another monster like Mao Tse Tung can’t come to power. It’s beginning to look like they’ve failed.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    China’s biggest danger now is a middle class revolution, as America’s strategy of uplifting China is looking to bear fruit with $1 Trillion in foreign currency having already left China in 2015, and the rate of capital flight is still increasing. Given this fact, cutting the infantry forces needed to suppress a rebellion, and filling the forces of the rebellion with unemployed ex-soldiers, seems to be a mistake. Political Dictators are known for making huge strategic military mistakes.

    When looking at the strategic strengths and weaknesses of China. China’s only strength is its huge population, and now it’s cutting troops. China is strictly a local power, not a global power like the US with its huge navy and its network of hundreds of logistical bases around the world, and numerous allies (this is known as defensive depth). It is weak in technology (all stolen, none created domestically). Its military organization is based on the weak Soviet Union model, without a combat proven strong non-commissioned officer corp. In addition, its military culture doesn’t encourage initiative, which is critical to taking advantage of targets of opportunity, as well as responding to battle plan failures, and they always fail. Its officers and men have never seen combat, unlike American servicemen which are veterans, having been heavily campaigning since 2001, and who’s special operations troops are always fighting somewhere. This means that their training, battlefield skills, and equipment are all deficient and non-battle proven. The new weapons China has been buying, are inferior to the combat proven western weapons. China’s weapons buying has generated an Asian arms race, which defeats much of the new combat power China believes it is obtaining. China has no strong allies (fickle, nuclear armed, economic basket cases like Pakistan and North Korea are logistical drains, not advantages), and has enraged the nations on its borders with its belligerence. China’s islands in the South China Sea, far from being strong points, are immobile targets that can be carpet bombed and sunk beneath the waves (this isn’t even as strong as a Maginot line that has to be gone around). Its logistics are confined to within its own borders, with many critical materials being imported, 60% of Chinese oil consumption is imported. Which brings us to China’s greatest strategic weakness, 40% of China’s economy is dependent on imports and exports. This means a strategic blockade of China’s ports would crush China’s economy. And China has been enraging all of the nations that sit on its shipping lanes. China has been trying to improve its railroads and pipelines to the interior of Asia, but these are much more expensive than the cheap shipping, and again immobile supply lines easily cut with a few pounds of explosives.

    And finally, going to war with anyone, is likely to bring in every opportunistic nation in the world, and the first thing they’ll do is to disavow the $4+ Trillion in foreign treasuries China has accumulated in its program of cheating currency manipulations. As well as the confiscation of all Chinese owned property, businesses, etc. And while this won’t materially hurt China’s ability to make war, psychologically it will be a stunning defeat to a people with a living memory of abject poverty and the Communist Party’s incompetent “Water Buffalo” level economy. No doubt China will nationalize all foreign investments, but then the smart money has already left China, and it’s only the desperate and stupid money that is still scrambling to get out. This is when the Chinese middle class, who’s dreams of western levels of affluence, will go postal. The Chinese are known for bloody revolutions, but when this American created Chinese middle class explodes, a new word is going to be needed to define it, as postal is completely inadequate.

    It’s really hard to figure out what a foreign culture will consider a just execution for the communist party officials that have betrayed them so badly, not to mention what creative name it will be tagged with. But it will be fun trying.
    “The Dragon takes a dump” “Dragon toasted commie” “Caramelized Karma” “Moo Shued Mandarins” “Noodled Nabobs” “The Beijing Necklace” “The Hong Kong Crush” “Kung Fu U” “Schooled inside and out” “Shanghai Shank”

    I might be premature, Xi and his clique might just take their ill gotten billions and run away. I kinda hope they don’t, as it would be a shame not to see them get what they have coming to them. The Universe’s Karmic Balance would need to be fixed.

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