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Army and Security in Today's China (in memory of Ellis Joffe)

Thursday, 11:30-13:00, 501

 

Participants

 

Abstract

This panel is hold in memory of Prof. Ellis Joffe (1934-2010) - a towering figure in Israeli and world Sinology, a leading specialist on the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and on China's military in general. The panel is attended by Prof. Joffe's colleagues and students and marks the first anniversary of his untimely death.

This panel explores a set of major dilemmas that Chinese intellectuals confronted during the twentieth century – the relationship between culture, nation, and state. The political, social, and cultural crises that China faced since the mid-nineteenth century gave rise not only to oft-discussed political responses, but to a wide range of cultural responses as well. Intellectuals in twentieth century China struggled to shape a cultural identity and shape a Chinese nation-state while confronting the wish to modernize on the one hand, and preserve cultural tradition on the other. At the same time, Chinese intellectuals struggled to define a space for their individual survival This panel examines these dilemmas in three instances that span the length of China’s twentieth century.

 

China’s Defense Technology and Industrial Base in a Regional Context: Arms Manufacturing in Asia

Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region have created extensive, even quite impressive, local arms industries. In some cases, these nations are moving toward the point where they are capable of producing arms that approach the state-of-the-art in particular industrial sectors. There are several limitations impeding technological innovation in the region’s defense industries. First, regional armed forces are still heavily platform-centric, as opposed to network-centric, and this is reflected in their defense industries. The heavy emphasis in most of these countries on self-reliance in arms production means that resources are often wasted on replicating the development and manufacture of weapons systems already widely available on the global arms market. Most regional defense industrial bases lack the necessary design skills and technological expertise in order to truly innovate. Consequently, most Asian-Pacific armaments producers will remain – relative to the United States and Western Europe – secondary or even tertiary actors in the international arms business, manufacturing military equipment mainly for domestic consumption or occupying a few highly specialized niches in the global defense industrial food chain. For its part, latecomer China may gain the advantage regionally, but it remains to be seen whether its accelerated spending, especially in R&D, will enable it to pull ahead of regional or global competitors.

 

Current PLA force buildup and Taiwan's preparedness & response

Since President Ma Ying-jeou's inauguration in May 2008, Taiwan's government has devoted to expanding cross-strait cultural exchanges and strengthening economic ties. The cross-strait relation that was once under tension has now been eased. However, China has never given up its military preparation against Taiwan. The rapid growth of China's military strength has posed serious challenge to Taiwan.

Even though China has been arguing its insistency on passive defense policy featuring active preventive-defense, its failure to raise the defense transparency and strategic clarity has had impact on Asia-Pacific military balance. China's force buildup, such as Jian Bing series satellites, DF-21D, early warning aircraft and aerial tankers, obviously exceeds the need for self-defense. Instead, it demonstrates China's capabilities to conquer Taiwan and control the First and Second Island Chain, so as to become a military superpower in the Asia-Pacific, or even in the world. It is clear that China is not only the threat to Taiwan but also the variant on regional security. Therefore, Taiwan is implementing various defense reforms including converting to voluntaryism, procuring F-16C/D fighter, developing asymmetric warfare capabilities in order to build "Hard ROC" defense force to defend our homeland security and contribute to regional peace. Taiwan deeply looks forwards to being recognized in the effort of maintaining regional security.

 

From Technological development to Military Buildup in the Chinese Military

Since the late 1990s, China’s military arsenal has been dramatically improved. However, the actual military value of the newly developed systems is yet to be clarified. Undertaking this task, this study's basic assumption is that technological military progress per se is not sufficient to increase military strength. Thus, instead of evaluating arms development in technological terms, it adopts an alternative approach, which considers it from strategic perspective. To this end, the study makes two assumptions. First, the value of a weapon system is measured by its suitability to the country's comprehensive conditions, and by the degree it is supplied to the military in the required quantities, timeframe, and with the appropriate support. Second, the country’s ability to meet these requirements depends on conditions related to the procurement process.

Exploring China's recent military procurement approaches, the study's findings are that the relationship between China’s strategic conditions and its procurement efforts tends to be tenuous, China's inclination towards self-reliance is strengthening, and the technological ambitiousness of its military procurement is ever increasing. Under these conditions, and given the aforementioned assumptions, the paper concludes that China’s military procurement process can be expected to reduce the actual military value of the newly developed weapons.

 

A New Strategic Wing of the Dragon: Chinese Evolving Policy towards Central Asia and Shifting Strategic Perceptions of U.S. Military Presence

The rise of China is, as a global phenomenon, now transforming global geopolitics and enhancing Beijing’s diplomatic clouts beyond the Great Wall. With the global financial crises weakening U.S. domestic bases of global outreach, China’s active engagement and strategic interactions with the states in Central Asia are gradually enhancing its strategic sphere of influence in Central Asia and reshaping Sino-American relations. The purpose of this study is to examine China’s evolving policy towards Central Asia in the post-Cold War era in order to reveal the basic conditions for sustainable global governance in Afghanistan, while reviewing its changing perceptions of U.S. military presence in the region. Given the global restructuring of U.S. military forces and the growing anti-U.S. movements by the radical Islamic forces in Central Asia, China’s strategic approaches or benign negligence would invite significant challenges and regional responses. It is necessary, therefore, to review China’s Central Asia policy in transition and shifting strategic perceptions of U.S. military engagement in the region for understanding the impact of China’s rising power as well as for explaining its strategic implications for Sino-American relations, while expecting its potential influence in the Middle East as a new strategic wing of the Dragon.