Although the Chinese notion on the emergence of China as a global power is quite liberal in perspective, as they believe in a peaceful rise and assuring no intentions of replacing US hegemony, however, the mere motive for the acquisition of power highlights the internal political beliefs. According to which, China obviously recognizes the anarchic state of nature of the world politics and that is why the state cannot trust any other state to the fullest, meaning that China is willing to take strong actions against any state that tries to threaten its sovereignty or other national interests. Power maximization under the core classical realists’ concept of offensive realism provides a logical theoretical framework to best describe China’s national motives and actions, however, Mearsheimer failed to provide argumentative support to the long-standing concept of power maximization under the economic sense. It is believed that China can provide an alternative and improvised theoretical framework on the concept of power maximization in the economic sense, as they believe that economy is a crucial contributing factor to a state’s actual power. The Chinese consensus in the last two decades is quite similar to the theories of Alfred Thayer Mahan, with a special focus on sea and economy. According to Mahan, the strength of a nation’s navy is the key to a strong foreign policy and economic achievements. These two concepts collectively makeup a theoretical framework for China’s power struggles during the recent decades.
With the course of time, a state’s national interests can change and so can the execution of its national policy. China in the recent decades have withered and recovered from the ‘Hundred years of humiliation’, in a constant struggle to revive its lost status of a great power. The reason why China has managed to strengthen its economy and improvise its political structure is because China has learnt from its past mistakes, dicey decisions, structural problems, long-standing political (and cultural) beliefs and ultimate failures. By deeply analysing the courses of actions, the state managed to uproot its biggest failures, mistakes and structural blunders, and yet continues to improve its national and foreign policy. United States of America on the other hand, ever since the Obama Administration’s indication of a shift to Asia, has been on a close watch for China’s surveillance. His predecessor, George W. Bush, was all about the ‘War on Terror’ and paid zero to none attention in the overall foreign policy of the United States of America. This paper examines the decades-long Chinese modernization, structural reforms and the current role of PLA in the national security of China and reveals answers to questions; what is the progressive international political hype for China all about? What are the assumed and announced PLA objectives? Why there was need for modernization? And how does China plan to be a world class force by 2049? As China has always remained opaque in terms of courses of action, so there’s a whole lot of ambiguity in the matter as well, however, the research of this paper thoroughly examines the areas under tension and provides a rough outlined sketch to best understand mysterious nature of Chinese orthodoxy.
Chinese National Security
National security, alongside state sovereignty, is a sub-component of the state’s grand strategy. A grand strategy incorporates tools of power such as economy, diplomacy, military and natural resources, in the formulation of the overall, core objective of the state. Every nation strives for power, making power acquisition and dominance, the core components of their grand strategy. China’s national security strategy can be derived from the three core national objectives of the state; sovereignty, modernity and stability. The aim of a state’s national security is to secure its national objectives, using necessary means and ends.
According to the Meriam Webster’s dictionary, sovereignty is defined as the supreme power of the state over itself and the freedom from external control. China has been claiming that it has never fought a war of aggression ever since its independence in 1949. The period spanning from the mid-19th century and the mid-20th century, from 1840’s ‘opium war’ to the war against Japan dating from 1937-1945, is characterized by China as the ‘hundred years of humiliation’. Therefore, after independence, the state swore off wars of aggression and urged for structural and doctrinal reforms. All the major conflicts and Chinese interventions (Chinese intervention in Korea-1950, War against India-1962, Sino-Soviet skirmishes in the late 1960’s and the infamous Vietnam War-1979) after 1949 are claimed to be responses to bulging threats to the state sovereignty.
Modernity implies a steady compliance with advancements of the technology, strategic environment and addressing outdated structural and institutional issues. In the closing decades of the 20th century, there was s strong emphasis on strengthening the economy and beyond the tangible, cultural, social and political reforms. The aim of modernity has shifted from ‘strengthening the economy’ to ‘strengthening the military’ during the last 3 decades. For example, in the late 90’s China was not willing to participate in joint military exercises and in the recent years the state has ironically sent PLA troops to various joint military exercises in order to compensate the deficit of its combat capabilities, since the state has not entered a war for a very long time.
Lastly, by stability, it does not mean a mere territorial stability but the internal and international- environmental stability is also a major concern of the People’s Republic of China. In 1998, Jiang Zemin at the 15th Party Congress said “. . . it is of the utmost importance to correctly handle the relations between reformand development on one hand and stability on the other so as to maintain a stablepolitical and social environment. Without stability, nothing can be achieved”.
All three of the above-mentioned objectives make up the entire national and foreign policy of the state, including the national security strategy as well. The objectives of a state’s national interests can predict its overall political and military policy through the courses of action highlighted by the developmental strategy of their military doctrine.
PLA’s Evolutional Journey
Preceding the actual evolution of People’s Liberation Army, China has made massive blunders and evaluated its failures very closely. After its foundation in the late 1920’s the guerrilla (mobileoperational-style) warfare, used by the state in the mountains of Jing gag, proved to be a significant warfare tactic required for state’s survival. Following the war in the 1920’s, the war against Japan in the 1930’s and 40’s made the state to fall on its knees. All was not lost, as the Chinese troops and citizens, collectively paid their homage and best wishes to the soldiers (and their families) who embraced martyrdom. This sacrificial spirit and emphasis on the guerrilla warfare, led to the Mao’s concept of ‘people’s war’ that advocated a ‘a sea’ of soldiers in order to defeat the enemy’s forces. However, things were not expected to worsen when the Chinese military decided to enter a war against Vietnam in 1979. An estimated 100,000 Vietnamese troops trolled the ‘twice-their-size’ 200,000 Chinese troops and that pushed China to ponder on the restructuring and advanced training methods of its military. This was not yet the ‘severe blow’ that laid out strong emphasis on modernization. After the Gulf war erupted in the early 1990’s, it was the first time that US had fought directly with coalition forces, therefore, their display of advance technology, equipment and advanced combat skills stunned the Chinese policy makers. Even though the state made massive reductions to its military force, after 1979, the Iraqi invasion was the actual turning point for the military strategy of the state, as it was a display of technological sophistication for the PLA and reflection of its capabilities at that time.
In 1993, the China Communist Party rolled out a set of reforms that accentuated the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army, it was the first time that the Chinese strategists had abandoned Mao’s concept of ‘people’s war’, which was a derivative of the total war doctrine. The Chinese strategists replaced the long-standing ‘total war’ doctrine with the ‘limited war’ doctrine. Although there was a stronger military modernization emphasis during the late 90’s however the actual developments were made in the economic realm. In 2001, after China became a member of the World Trade Organization, new economic opportunities paved a way for a prosperous economic growth for the state.
After all those years, the year 2012 proved be another major turning point for the PLA’s steps toward modernization. In 2012, president Xi Jinping took charge, he advocated a ‘Chinese Dream’ of making the state a world-class force by its 100th independence anniversary, which is 2049. This ‘Chinese Dream’ envisaged the restructuring, re-grouping and modernizing its armed forces. In 2015, China introduced two more forces to its service branches, namely Strategic Support Force and the Rocket Force (Strategic Missile Force). Following the year, in 2016, the government announced “the downsizing of 300,000 troops”, eradicating the former ‘the more, the merrier’ political belief, implying a focus on quantity rather than quality of the troops.
China’s overall military expenditure has also increased every year, progressively since the early the 2000’s. According to the 2019 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Yearbook, “the Chinese military expenditure, recorded in 2018, was around 250 billion US-Dollars, while the US military expenditure was around 649 billion dollars”, still not as much as United States, however, China has come very close in compared to the rest of the states in the world, that could compete with the United States, in the economic sense. Therefore, there is a clear priority of national security for China, as a globally-chaotic political environmentcould suppress the state’s rise as a respected super power, which is why the capabilities of PLA has gotten the centre stage in the state’s national security.
PLA’s Force Structure
China has a coast line of about 18000 kilometres, however, its Exclusive Economic Zone is of 200 nautical miles, same as its strategic partner Pakistan, but China also claims over more than 6000 islands as a part of its territory. The state has five regions of commands;
- Central Command; Beijing and security for China Communist Party leadership.
- Eastern Command; Taiwan, East China Sea, Disputed Islands and Japan.
- Northern Command; Korean Peninsula and borders with Russia, Mongolia and the Yellow Sea.
- Southern Command; South China Sea and borders with South East Asian countries.
- Western Command; Borders with India and a fight for counter-terrorism.
These above-mentioned areas of commands are the responsibilities of People’s Liberation Army and which is why the PLA was re-structured into the following five group of forces;
- PLA Ground Forces/Army; has approximated of 975,000 troops in service.
- PLA Airforce; has approximated of 395,000 troops in service.
- PLA Navy; has approximated of 240,000 troops in service.
- PLA Rocket Force (Strategic Missile Force); has approximated of 100,000 troops in service.
- PLA Strategic Support Force; has approximated 175,000 troops in service.
China having the world’s largest population, has no shortage of troops, other than a total over 2 million personnel in service, China also has other 150,000 of militia and about 500,000 in reserve. On its first Independence Day parade, the state only had a few capabilities and most of them were captured. The shame was felt so deep that had to expand its military capabilities, and after decades of blood and sweat, China managed to develop the following capabilities;
- Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (70 in stock).
- Bomber Aircrafts (162 in service).
- Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles (3,860 in service).
- Main Battle Tanks (6,740 in service).
- Attack guide missile Submarines (57 in service)
- Aircraft Carriers (1 in service).
- Cruisers, Destroyers and Frigates (82 in service).
- Principal Amphibious Ships (4 in service).
- Tactical Aircrafts (1,966 in service).
- Attack Helicopters (246 in service).
- Satellites (77 in orbit).
All of these capabilities were created by the state itself, setting afoot to the journey to revive the lost status of a great power. In the early 1960’s the PLA made a shift towards building a strong Airforce, with a constant focus on the ground forces, however, the last two decades marked China’s shift towards the maritime development and security. The heavy naval build-up illuminates that not only does the state need to secure its territorial boundaries, but also to protect its mega-economic Belt and Road Initiative project, not because of the fact that it will cost the state more than just a couple hundred billion US-Dollars, but the trade it will hold and the regional connectivity that it will provide, may change the entire international order.
PLA and National Security:
People’s Liberation Army has a direct involvement in national security, because the military doctrine/strategy of a state is derivative of the state’s national interest, implying that the PLA is a mere tool in the execution of the grand strategy of the Republic of China. With rapid developments to the system the first major achievement for the state’s grand strategy is the transition of the state profile towards a ‘global power’ from a ‘regional power’ and such transitions are followed by a number of threats. Given the complicated globalised strategic environment, the national interests have also expanded, despite their developmental strategy, indicating a strong maritime force, there’s much ambiguity in the predictability of the executional strategy.
The China’s external threats are of two sorts; territorial and diplomatic tensions. Territorial disputes in South and East China Sea, over various islands, in particular the infamous Senku and Diaoyu islands, attracts much attention. If a proper military infrastructure is installed on the islands, it can prevent US involvement and also, most importantly, Taiwan’s independence. Diplomatic tensions can also result from territorial disputes in a region, such as with Japan. Other diplomatic tensions are merely out of spite, for example, China’s emergence as a global power is unbearable to the US’ hegemony and world recognized prestige. That is why China has been observing and acting upon improvements over its military capabilities and strategy. In April 2020, China constructed a second Type 075 warship, a class designed to compete in amphibious capability with the American Wasp class ships. Two more are anticipated, as are two more aircraft carriers. These are clearly designed to match American warships, and raise interest in China’s ability to sustain distant interest by sea, most obviously in the Indian Ocean, but also wherever Chinese geopolitical concerns may be favoured by naval power projection.”, said professor Jeremy Black of the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
Other than United States, Japan and Taiwan, Russia is also a great threat to the national interests of the state. The increased strategic cooperation does not imply that Russian strategists do not consider China as a major threat as well, in fact, it is quite the same on the other side of the fence. The Russian inclusion in the Caspian Sea, makes the Central Asian states vulnerable to Russian pressure, which could seize a major part of the entire BRI project.
Furthermore, the internal security threats are not the responsibility of the PLA, People’s Armed Police is assigned for internal security matters, however, if there occurs a situation of civil unrest or uprising, particularly in the Tibet and Xinjiang, then the PLA would most likely answer to the call of duty.
Conclusively, there is a direct role of the People’s Liberation Army in the Republic of China’s national interests and ultimately its national security. Although a number of modernizations and reforms were mentioned in this paper, there still is a lot of modernizations that are being kept confidential to the public and with opaque nature of matters, one cannot exactly predict where this will lead to. There are a number of global implications over the topic under discussion, such as the most likelihood of a third world war. This possible implication, is the most debated possibility in the current academic consensus over the matter, this is because the United States of America sees the Republic of China, as a ‘revisionist power’ and the hegemonic influence has strengthened its allies over the course of time, which is why China also takes it into account and keeps expanding its maritime territory to assert dominance in the Indo-Pacific region. Although China has claimed not to build offshore military bases, the naval base in Djibouti and the second under construction in Cambodia is a serious concern for the United States.
Regardless of the heavy criticism, China still believes in a peaceful and prosperous economic and prestigious rise. Not to blame the state, but if mere claims and assurances were enough to influence the global political assessments, then China may not get to that point of development. That is why the state has setup a heavy navy build-up and it aims to deter US and coalition forces. Assumingly, if the state manages to score a peaceful rise in the era of complex nature of warfare and false flags, then it could provide a new and improved vision for the world order. Henceforth, protecting the rule of the China’s Communist Party, is on the top of the priority shelf of the People’s Liberation Army and after that, 95 % of the threats that the PLA would provide a shield against, are the external threats of all sorts. In this automized information age, the purpose of expanding PLA’s service branches to Rocket force and the Strategic Support Force was mainly to have a separate supervision for the nuclear arsenals and also to fight cyber-terrorism threats.
Mulvenon, C., James and Yang, H., Richard.” The People’s Liberation Army in the Information Age.” Rand Corporation, no. 1(1999):5-10.https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/conf_proceedings/CF145/CF145.chap7.pdf.
Mulvenon, C., James and Yang, H., Richard.” The People’s Liberation Army in the Information Age.” Rand Corporation, no. 1(1999): 10-20. https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/conf_proceedings/CF145/CF145.chap7.pdf.
Mulvenon, C., James and Yang, H., Richard.” The People’s Liberation Army in the Information Age.” Rand Corporation, no. 1(1999): 20-30. https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/conf_proceedings/CF145/CF145.chap7.pdf.
SIPRI.” Armaments, Disarmament and International Security.” SIPRI Yearbook 2019, (2019): 6-10. https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/2019-06/yb19_summary_eng.pdf
Maizland, Lindsay.” China’s Modernizing Military.” Council on Foreign Relations. Accessed on August 5, 2020. https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/chinas-modernizing-military.
İlhan, Bekir.” China’s Evolving Military Doctrine After the Cold War.” SETA Analysis, no. 59(January,2020): 11-12. https://setav.org/en/assets/uploads/2020/02/A56En.pdf.
İlhan, Bekir.” China’s Evolving Military Doctrine After the Cold War.” SETA Analysis, no. 59(January,2020): 12-13. https://setav.org/en/assets/uploads/2020/02/A56En.pdf.
İlhan, Bekir.” China’s Evolving Military Doctrine After the Cold War.” SETA Analysis, no. 59(January,2020): 13-14. https://setav.org/en/assets/uploads/2020/02/A56En.pdf.
Black, Jeremy.” China’s Military Capabilities and the New Geopolitics.” Foreign Policy Research Institute. Accessed on August 5, 2020. https://www.fpri.org/article/2020/05/chinas-military-capabilities-and-the-new-geopolitics/.
India’s Sprouting Counterforce Posture
In recent years, the technological advancements by India in the domain of counterforce military capabilities have increased the vulnerability of the South Asian region. While trying to disturb the strategic stability in South Asia, India through its adventuresome counterforce posture against Pakistan is on the verge of becoming a rogue state. Notwithstanding the repercussions, India is voyaging towards destabilization in the South Asian Region.
India’s enhanced strategic nuclear capabilities which includes-the development of Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs), Ballistic Missile Defence System (BMD), Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles, and acquisition of nuclear-capable submarines- indicate that India is moving away from its declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) towards a more aggressive, counterforce posture against Pakistan. The BMD and MIRV technology along with the provision of an advanced navigation system under BECA would embolden India to go for the first strike against Pakistan. While having reliance on BMD, as to be sheltered in return. These technological advancements made by India are sprouting a new era of counterforce posture, which would further make the South Asian region volatile and vulnerable to conflicts.
India’s urge to acquire counterforce capability is strongly associated with its doctrinal shift. As the stated posture requires flexibility in the use of nuclear weapons, which fortifies the first strike capability, and thus a deviation in India’s declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) has become more significant, particularly concerning its impact on regional stability. India’s declared policy of NFU, set out in Draft Nuclear Doctrine in 1999, followed by its first amendment in January 2003 has since then been into hot debates. Pakistan has long doubted the Indian policy of NFU, as the actions and statements by the officials of the latter have always been aggressive and protruding towards the former. India, now, is drifting away from its policy of NFU with the acquisition of counterforce capabilities, particularly against Pakistan. This is further evident from the statement issued by India’s Defense Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh, back in August 2019. It stated “Till today, our nuclear policy is ‘no-first-use’ (NFU). What happens in the future depends on the circumstances.” A change at the doctrinal level is evident in the Indian strategic enclave. Notwithstanding the challenges and repercussions caused by the counterforce strategy and with an attempt to destabilize the nuclear deterrence in the region, India would go unjustifiably low to attain such measures.
In the same vein, India has been enhancing its nuclear capabilities for strategic flexibility against its regional rivals. By the same token, it wants to attain nuclear dominance, which would ultimately result in chaos in the region. The counterforce capability by India would compel its adversaries to heed towards the preemptive strike, in case of a crisis, out of the fear of the use of Nuclear weapons first by the patent enemy. Moreover, the counterforce capability pushes the enemy to put the nuclear weapons on hair-trigger mode, which is directly linked with the crisis escalation. The acquisition of counterforce capability by India would likely provoke a new arms race in the region. This would further destabilize the already volatile South Asian region. The far-reaching destabilization which India is trying to create, just to have an edge on the nuclear adversary, would be back on India’s face, faster than she knew it.
On the contrary, Pakistan has been maintaining a posture of Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD) and does not claim to have a No-First Use (NFU) policy. Moreover, Pakistan’s nuclear capability is defensive in principle and a tool for deterrence. Given the Indian evolved notions of counterforce preemption, even now Pakistan would be left with no choice but to leave room for carrying out a ‘first strike’ as a feasible deterrent against India. Nevertheless, with the advent of technological innovations, its countermeasure arrives soon, too. Presently, there are two aspects that Pakistan should take into consideration; the growing Indo-US nexus and India’s concealed innovations in the nuclear posture. Though India is far from achieving counterforce strikes against Pakistan’s nuclear targets, concrete steps are required for maintaining future deterrence stability. With that intention, Pakistan might need to look towards its allies for getting hands-on the modern capabilities which includes- advanced communication and navigation systems, sensors, and advancements in artificial intelligence and otherwise, is essential for strengthening its deterrent capability. Pakistan should heed towards the development of absolute second-strike capability; as, what is survivable today, could be vulnerable tomorrow. Therefore, advancements in technology should be made for preserving nuclear deterrence in the future as well.
Summarizing it all, the existence of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence has created a stable environment in the region, by deterring full-scale wars on multiple occasions that might have resulted in a nuclear exchange. With the revolution in nuclear technology, the threat of nuclear war has emerged again. Instead of going towards the attainment of peace and stability in the region, India has been enhancing its counterforce capabilities. This would likely remain a significant threat to the deterrence stability in the region. Moreover, any kind of failure to maintain nuclear deterrence in South Asia could result in an all-out war, without any escalation control. India, in its lust for power and hegemonic designs, has been destabilizing the region. Both the nuclear states in South Asia need to engage in arms restraint and escalation control measures. This seems to be a concrete and more plausible way out; else the new era of destabilization could be more disastrous.
A pig in a poke of Lithuanian Armed Forces
The proverb “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” perfectly reflects the situation in the Lithuanian armed forces. It is it unclear how the army will carry out its tasks, if everything that happens there runs counter to common sense.
The conscription took place in Lithuania. The recruits once again were revealed by an electronic lottery on January 7, 2021. 3,828 recruits were selected from the list of 38 thousand conscripts aged 18 to 23.
The idea of using electronic lottery in such a serious procedure arises a lot of questions among Lithuanians. Young people are suspicious of this method and fully admit the possibility of corruption. Nobody could check the results and so nobody could be blamed for random selection. The more so, the armed forces could get weaker recruits than in case of using usual ways of choosing among candidates. So, the army buys a pig in a poke.
This approach to recruitment in Lithuania results in presence of those with criminal intents and inclinations. Сases of crimes committed by Lithuanian military personnel have increased. Incidents with the involvement of military regularly occurred in Lithuania in 2020.
Thus, a soldier of the Lithuanian army was detained in Jurbarkas in October. He was driving under the influence of alcohol. A Lithuanian soldier suspected of drunk driving was detained also in Siauliai in December. Panevėžys County Chief Police Commissariat was looking for a soldier who deserted from the Lithuanian Armed Forces and so forth.
Such behaviour poses serious risks to public safety and leads to loss of confidence in the Lithuanian army in society.
Lithuanian military officials have chosen a new way to discourage young people from serving in the army, which is already not popular.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The ministry of defence decided to run a photo contest that would reflect service in the country’s armed forces. It is doubtful that such pictures will attract to the army, but the real situation is provided.
Usually, popularization is the act of making something attractive to the general public. This contest served the opposite goal. Look at the pictures and make conclusions.
Fatah-1: A New Security and Technological Development About Pakistan’s Indigenous GMLRS
Islamabad: It seems like 2021 has been a good start for Pakistan specifically with regard to stepping up its missile testing. On the 7th of January, the Pakistan military has successfully conducted a purely indigenously developed missile test flight known to be Fatah-1. As stated by various reports, Fatah-1 is an extended-range Guided Multi-Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) which itself is a developed variant of the guided MLRS family.
According to the recent statement given by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) about the newly developed rocket, it was stated: “The weapon system will give Pakistan Army capability of a precision target deep in the enemy territory.” Director-General of Pakistan Army, Media Wing, major general Babar Iftikhar on 7th January tweeted: “Pakistan today conducted a successful; test flight of indigenously developed Fatah-1, Guided Multi Launch Rocket System, capable of delivering a conventional Warhead up to a range of 140 km.”
Defense analyst Mr. Syed Muhammad Ali also stated in his capacity: “the new system was very fast, accurate, survivable, and difficult to intercept”. A video was also shared by ISPR on their official website, in which the missile launch can be seen while being fired from the launcher however, the details on when and where the test flight has taken place, along with the specification of the rocket system are yet to be announced.
Currently, Pakistan Army owns a wide range of Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM), Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBM), Battlefield Ballistic Missiles (BBM), Rocket Artillery, and Surface to Surface Cruise Missile (SSCM). In the previous year, Pakistan had also maintained prime success in conducting the Ra’ad-II cruise missile and Ghaznavi surface-to-surface ballistic missile (SSBM). Besides, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on 30thDecember made apt progress when it comes to the national air defense arsenal as it was announced that PAF is beginning the production of the State-of-the-art JF-17 Thunder Block 3 fighter jets, at the same time acquiring the 14 dual-seat Jf-17 aircraft.
According to various reports, the JF-17 Thunder Block 3 will be said to have a new radar operational capability which will be far better in the practical domain as compared to the Raphael aircraft acquired by India. Whereas, the exchange of 14 dual-seat aircraft, manufactured with Pak-China cooperation were also given to the PAF which will be used for extensive training.
The recent successful testing of Fatah-1 has been considered to be another milestone for Pakistan as it tends to be a fitting response to the recent developments in the conventional capabilities carried out by India and also to India’s Cold Start Doctrine.
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