Category: Uncategorized

Model Worker

The folks at , a website and research firm that tracks the Chinese media and Internet, published its annual last week. The awards contain a “a list of the best specialist websites, blogs and online sources of information about China.”

Yours truly was listed as one of ten runner-ups for China-related tweeters. The collection of blogs, podcasts, and twitter feeds offers a diverse and impressive amount of information and analysis on all aspects of modern China.

Be sure to check out the complete list — and the winners, and .

The Chinese Army Today

I have just received my copy of the second edition of Dennis Blasko’s The Chinese Army Today: Tradition and Transformation for the 21st Century (2nd edition).  For anyone interested in the modernization of China’s armed forces, this book is a “must read.”

The revised edition of The Chinese Army Today has many strengths:

First, the book examines the modernization of China’s ground forces.  Despite the emphasis in current commentary on China’s air and especially naval forces, China’s military remains heavily-dominated by its ground forces, where significant modernization is occurring.  Moreover, these forces play an important role not just in external defense and potential power projection, but also in a variety of domestic missions, including disaster relief and internal security.

Second, the book examines all aspects of China’s army, from doctrine and organization to equipment and training.

Third, the book is ruthlessly based on facts and informed analysis, not speculation.  The author, Dennis Blasko, is a retired U.S. army officer who has spent much of his career studying China’s armed forces and served as an attache in both Beijing and Hong Kong in the 1990s.


Economic Growth, Regime Insecurity, and Military Strategy

In this article from the latest issue of Asian Security, I examine the sources of the PLA’s new emphasis on nonwar military operations (not to be confused with “military operations than war” or MOOTW in U.S. doctrine).  In particular, I explore why China’s armed forces have sought to strengthen their ability to conduct noncombat operations, especially domestic ones, even though China’s military modernization for traditional combat operations is far from complete.

I argue that the rise of noncombat operations in China’s military strategy is principally a response to internal threats to regime security that are a byproduct of rapid economic growth.  Although growth is key to the legitimacy of leaders in developing countries, it also creates new sources of domestic unrest and increases the vulnerability of the economy to external shocks, both of which, if unchecked, can harm future growth. As a result, developing countries such as China may use their armed forces to maintain political stability and provide services that the state lacks, such as emergency disaster relief.

This growing role of noncombat operations in China’s military strategy and operations is important for several reasons:

  • It demonstrates the continued domestic role for China’s armed forces, which includes the PLA, whose principal mission is external defense, and the paramilitary People’s Armed Police (PAP) charged with maintaining internal stability.
  • It indicates that the principal effect of economic growth has not been to identify expansive interests overseas that require new capabilities for offensive operations and long-range combat power projection for their protection. Instead, it has reinforced China’s interest in maintaining a stable external environment abroad and, more importantly, in ensuring domestic stability at home.
  • It suggests that the PLA may be devoting fewer resources to long-range power projection than it otherwise might and that such capabilities will grow at a slower rate than they otherwise would.

In addition, the relationship between regime insecurity and military strategy has implications for the study of international relations:

  • It identifies a new causal pathway through which domestic politics can influence the goals and content of a state’s military strategy, especially in the developing world.
  • It offers an alternative perspective on the relationship between rising powers and the likelihood of armed conflict, focusing on how rapid growth creates new rationales for bolstering internal security and other domestic operations such as disaster relief.



Chinese Foreign Policy syllabus

I have just re-tooled my Chinese foreign policy syllabus for an undergraduate lecture course on the topic.

Like most academic tasks, revising this syllabus was much more time-consuming than I had anticipated.  Moreover, there are never enough lectures to cover all the topics that need to be addressed.  Nevertheless, this version seeks to cover both China’s foreign relations during the Cold War as well as its grand strategy since the end of the Cold War.

Check out the syllabus.