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  • Waiting for the PLA Shoe to Drop

    As the world rang in 2011, one of the lesser noticed events is the absence of a Chinese defense white paper for 2010. The biennial public explanation of Chinese military capabilities and intentions was due out by the end of December. Yet as of Tuesday morning, no report has been released.

    This is a striking omission, as the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been assiduous in producing these reports in a timely manner. Indeed, although the reports have always come up short in terms of providing the world with anything like the level of transparency the U.S. provides, since the PLA began producing them in 1998, the reports have served Western analysts well.

    The absence of a 2010 defense white paper is likely due to a combination of staffing issues and the forthcoming U.S.–Chinese high-level meetings: first, the visit of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to China at the beginning of next week, followed by President Hu Jintao’s state visit to the United States. One can imagine that, as these visits loom, the time simply ran out to gain bureaucratic approval from all the offices within the Chinese government for the white paper.

    This suggests, however, that there may be something to the report or its context that the Chinese are hesitant to highlight ahead of this high level diplomacy. Any hope for improved U.S.–China relations that may emerge from these two Sino–American meetings should, therefore, be tempered. In light of the year-end reports on PLA developments—from an initial operational capability for China’s anti-ship ballistic missile force to reports of the Chinese aircraft carrier Shi Lang (ex-Varyag) beginning to work up its powerplant—the PLA is likely to be more active in 2011 than ever before.

    In this regard, the contents of the Chinese defense white paper, when it emerges (likely after the two U.S.–Chinese meetings), are likely to be sobering.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Waiting for the PLA Shoe to Drop

    1. Dave Finkelstein says:

      Hi! I wonder if you are making too much of the timing of the relase of the report. Seems like the non-release (to date) of the report was a opportunity to comment on other dimensions of Chinese military developments. I would be ecstatic if you are right in that the report will be sobering whenit it is released. I expect more of the same. We'll see. Anyway, I look forward to future mailings from Heritage.

    2. R Holland, Chandler, says:

      We work for them now. I wonder how low Obama will bow to his masters.

    3. Dave Altman, Denver, says:

      An amazing amount of US dollars have flowed to the Chinese mainland in recent years, both due to the Bush administrations as well as the Obama administration trade policies and absurd levels of borrowing. We, the American people and Corporations have funded the great expansion of the Chinese military to levels where they can effectively compete against us in any arena of the World. Surrogate wars /skirmishes are bieng fought all over and the funding has been provided by the US. With the advent of a new Congress in the US, hopefully spennding will be curtailed and this will relieve some of the pressure to borrow against the future. With less borrowing, less interest will have to be paid, sharply curtailing the influx of money to the Chinese mainland. This should have an affect on their ability to maintain their expansion and future maintenance costs of their military. Only time will tell if we can resume our role in the World as a Superpower without being beholden to those who hold the bonds issued by our governemnt.

    4. Spiritof76, NH says:

      Who cares about some military policy document? The US foreign policy particularly towards the Chinese is toothless. The Chinese own more than $1T of our debt and we need them to buy more of our debt because we don't have the intestinal fortitude to live within our means. It is about as effective as a drunk's anger towards a liquor store.

      Chinese have over 3 million in their army. They are modernizing their army at a phenomenal rate. They intend to take over the S.China sea and bar the US Navy from entering it. They will probably move to take over Taiwan. What will the US do? Everybody knows the answer. We are broke.

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