Military power

A man walks past a military-themed mural at a public park on Pingtan Island in China's southeast Fujian province on 14 January 2024. The slogan at left reads “China Dream; Strong-Army Dream”. (Greg Baker/AFP)

Wave of military purges in PLA unlikely to be over

The recent purge of top men from China’s military may go on for longer yet, says Taiwanese academic Tsai Wen-hsuan. Whether it is to rein in the military top brass or to root out elements of corruption, the continued purges show that President Xi Jinping’s grip on power continues to be strong.
Chinese military personnel salute as China's national flag is hoisted during the opening ceremony of the 2022 Asian Games at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium in Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province on 23 September 2023. (Philip Fong/AFP)

Japanese academic: Some concerns with China’s military AI advancements

A possible concern on the military use of AI in China, where the party controls the People’s Liberation Army, is that political rationality may take precedence over military rationality. This could heighten the risks of accidental escalation or a lack of assurance of control and safety when using such technology. Japanese academic Masaaki Yatsuzuka delves into the issue.
Models of military equipment and a giant screen displaying Chinese President Xi Jinping are seen at an exhibition at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution in Beijing, China 8 October 2022.  (Florence Lo/Reuters)

China deepens purging of the military to prepare for battle

China’s upper echelons are seemingly on shaky ground as two of its five state councillors have disappeared from the public eye. However, the purging of the military could be seen as a necessary step to ensure the reliability of the military and that China is ready for modern-day warfare, says Lianhe Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong.
A shot of the USS America (LHA-6) taken on 15 September 2023. (Chung Sung-Jun/Reuters)

US, China militaries flex muscles in Yellow Sea

Amid the ongoing US-China rivalry, both powers have been sending their navies on exercises in the Yellow Sea, as a signal to each side, stopping just short of actual engagement. This mirrors earlier near-confrontations. Is this all just military posturing ahead of a possible Xi Jinping-Joe Biden summit before the end of the year?
A screen broadcasts news footage of an Air Force aircraft taking part in military drills by the Eastern Theatre Command of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) around Taiwan, in a shopping area in Beijing, China, on 19 August 2023. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Three trends in the PLA’s military activities around Taiwan

Japanese academic Sugiura Yasuyuki notes that Beijing has been normalising military activities around Taiwan, and these activities seem to be heading towards actual combat, while being used for propaganda. One clear example is the recent Exercise "Joint Sword" in April 2023. There are increasing concerns that such activities will cause issues between China and the US, or China and Taiwan.
An activist wearing a mask of Russia's President Vladimir Putin stands next to fellow activists of the IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) peace organisation posing behind a mockup of a nuclear bomb as they demonstrate for the abolition of nuclear weapons in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin on 23 June 2023. (Odd Andersen/AFP)

Will Russia act on its threat to use nuclear weapons?

Chinese academic Chu Zhaogen notes that while Russia tends to threaten the use of nuclear weapons, especially amid the current war in Ukraine, chances are that it is well aware that doing so would invite unwelcome and devastating consequences. This makes it unlikely that it will actually act on its rhetoric.
A sailor walks on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, a US Navy Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, during a port visit in Danang, Vietnam, on 26 June 2023. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

Looking in the wrong direction: US Navy's superior strike capability does not ensure victory

Although the US Navy’s aircraft carrier fleet dwarfs that of China in quantity, quality and combat experience, the closer the US fleet gets to the Chinese coast the more vulnerable it becomes.
People visit a riverside in front of the Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai, China, 7 March 2023. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Can the US remove China's developing country status?

In per capita terms, China may seem more like a developing country than the might of its overall economic, technological and military prowess suggests. Be that as it may, the duality of its identity suits the CCP’s purpose in trumpeting China’s strengths at home while holding on to the right to developing country status benefits internationally. While the US will be keen to strip China of such flexibility, China will likely fight tooth and nail to keep this advantage.
A jet flies by a suspected Chinese spy balloon as it floats off the coast in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, US, 4 February 2023. (Randall Hill/Reuters)

China’s military-civil fusion promotes militarisation of meteorological balloons

Japanese academic Masaaki Yatsuzuka finds China’s explanations and criticism of the US in the aftermath of the balloon incident unpersuasive, more so in light of its military-civilian fusion strategy.