Military Modernisation,PLA

China’s Military Modernisation: Recent trends

The emergence of the People’s Republic of China as a major military power is hardly arguable. This brief describes the scope and extent of the modernisation undertaken by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in recent years. It provides an overview of China’s current efforts to modernise its armed services and traces the weaknesses and strengths of such undertakings. It demonstrates, in historical and conceptual terms, the basis of China’s drive to modernise its military forces.


The consequences of the modernisation of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) military forces over the last three decades have created challenges for the Asia-Pacific. Chinese forces have experienced cumulative improvements in their capabilities. Modernisation begins with doctrinal and strategic changes and continues with organisational transformation and, simultaneously, equipment acquisitions. China has pursued all these elements simultaneously, albeit unevenly. For decades, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was wedded to a ‘People’s War’, which emphasised “active defence”, as originally conceived by Mao Tse-tung. The PLA has since moved away from “active defence” to an emphasis on “military art” and “operations” [campaigns].[1] China realised that attrition and manpower intensive “people’s war” was too costly, evident in their campaigns in the 1930s and 1940s and starting in the late 1970s defence against the Soviet Union. While still important, it was no longer as critical a priority as successfully waging a limited, yet "intense" local war within other parts of its neighbourhood.[2] As the Chinese Defence Minister Zhang Aiping observed in 1983:

“The principle of war is to achieve the greatest victory at the smallest cost. To achieve this we should depend not only on political factors, but also on the correct strategy and tactics of the war’s commander, the sophisticated nature of our military equipment, the quality of our personnel who use the equipment etcetera.”[3]

Therefore, at least post-1985, gaining superiority against immediate foes and potential state threats around the Chinese rim land formed a critical basis of China’s military modernisation.[4] The PLA recognised that warfare in the 21st century was more technologically intensive; it also placed demands on transcending single-service missions to multi-service operations – i.e., the essence of combined arms warfare.[5]

Since the 1990s the PLA and its supporting air, naval, nuclear, and conventionally armed ballistic missile forces have made reasonably impressive strides. To begin with, military capabilities evolve according to a doctrine and plan. Doctrine and military planning are also determined by events. Two events catalysed the accumulation of capabilities that the PRC possesses today. The first was the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91 and the second was the Taiwan Straits Crisis of 1995-1996. The first event is most pertinent for China’s quest to acquire the strength and flexibility to execute combined arms warfare. Yet the maintenance of “ideological and political purity” meant that the PLA was expected to demonstrate unflinching loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).[6] A centralised military command structure was inflexible and unsuited for the conduct of future wars.

The PLA’s higher military leadership since the 1980s ruled out the possibility of a World War, “…for a relatively long period of time.”[7] Flowing this premise, the purpose for the PLA was to avoid major war and exploit the advantages allowed by the duration of peace for the PRC to modernise its capabilities.[8] In this regard, China has made good on this era of relative peace by developing a range of capabilities; the consequence of this modernisation is greater assertiveness in regional disputes.

The four core areas of capability development and deployment are the PLA’s land, air, naval, nuclear cum ballistic missile forces. The phases of modernisation were first doctrinal, then organisational – the PLA had then to be entirely restructured in the late 1980s and thereafter made equipment acquisitions beginning in the early 1990s, along with the transformation of the entire Force (PLA). Since the early 1990s, the PLA’s force planners and strategists have recognised the importance of developing and deploying capabilities for theatre-level military contingencies. Indeed, its capabilities are potent today largely because of the fact that they are geared to manage potential conflicts around the Chinese periphery such as a cross-straits one with Taiwan[9] and that along the Sino-Indian border. China is yet to develop the kind of unlimited force projection capabilities that the United States possesses, at least for the medium term.

This brief concentrates only on a select list of the latest Chinese military capabilities that are evolving and deployed for regional warfighting. It is noteworthy that the PLA’s modernisation drive displays some weaknesses that relate to the organisational changes that have taken place in the PLA. This is important because these vulnerabilities of the PLA matter as much as its strengths. These vulnerabilities and weaknesses can take two forms, which are specifically relevant to the following analysis. The first form of weakness is the total inability to perform a mission. It manifests itself by way of non-performance in pre-planned missions, as well as an inability to respond to surprises that mandate rapidity, flexibility and effectiveness. The second type of weakness that could prove constraining, if not outrightly debilitating, is the incompetent use of military capabilities to secure mission goals. This secondary weakness may result, if not exclusively, from “processes, personnel, equipment, leadership, force structure etc.”[10] Unlike the first weakness, which can be unforgiving, the second type of weakness still leaves room for success.[11]

This brief documents both the strengths and the weaknesses of PLA’s modernisation. The following sections use open-source material and draw from Indian analyses on the growth and trajectory Chinese military power.

The People’s Liberation Army

The PLA was an obsolescent combat fighting force in the mid- to late 1990s. Its nadir was the Vietnam War in 1979. Indeed the 1979 Chinese military campaign against Vietnam exposed some critical weaknesses in the domains of command, logistics and communications.[12] The denial and the absence of close air close support for the Chinese land offensives against Vietnam, forcing the PLA to rely more on artillery fire support as a substitute, exposed a critical weakness in the PLA’s effective prosecution joint operations.[13] Since the mid-1980s, however, the PLA ground forces have undergone significant transformation. This effort, sustained through double-digit increases in military spending, has yielded gains in the form of a leaner fighting force.

First, the operational structure of the PLA has undergone change and the Chinese defence ministry has experienced reorganisation. The seven military regions in China have been reorganised into five theatre commands, which include North, South, East, West and middle combat command zones.[14] Second, accompanying this shift is a reduction in the total manpower of the PLA, reflecting an improvement in the Teeth-to-Tail Ratio (TTR). The TTR is an expression of the relationship between the forces and resources dedicated to missions and the resources and infrastructure necessary to support and manage those forces.[15] China has made significant improvements at the tail-end of the TTR. Admittedly, the tail-end improvements are not only confined to improved logistics and force transportation, giving PLA ground forces considerable mobility, but also in enhanced cyber, electronic and space warfare capabilities. The latter three sets of capabilities serve as critical force multipliers to secure specific mission objectives.

Technological obsolescence was one of the core vulnerabilities of the PLA. Senior officers and the CPC’s leadership has recognised this deficiency since the mid-1980s; that it needed to be addressed if China is to successfully pursue a military campaign that meets the demands of 21st century warfare. Since then the PLA’s ground combat equipment has improved, and today the PLA’s land forces are equipped with an array of new equipment. These capabilities are diverse and include the PLA’s standard infantry weapon—the QBZ-95-1 and the QBZ-95B-1 5.8mm carbine assault rifle. The PLA is expected to field shortly a new 5.8-mm gun dubbed the ‘Type 05’ with a 20-mm grenade launcher. In service in the PLA’s armoured corps are two tanks, ZTZ-99A and ZTZ-96A. The latter is an upgraded second-generation tank.

A critical component of the PRC’s military modernisation is digitisation.[16] Since the mid-1990s, PLA writings clearly indicate that they plan to emulate the US Army’s efforts in this regard. When facing a strong fighting force, the PLA recognises the importance of the enemy’s capacity for information suppression. Against weaker foes, information superiority enables a large victory at low costs.[17] The PLA’s latest Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) is the ZBD-04. It plays a critical role in the PLA’s conduct of joint arms operations, giving it the capability of both operating with other tanks and performing missions independently of the other arms.[18]

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)

Among the most crucial areas of Chinese military modernisation is the expansion of its naval capabilities. The PLAN has gone about developing capabilities methodically, and in three phases. First is coastal defence—a “brown water defensive capability” of the immediate shoreline; second is to dominate upto the First Island Chain; and the third is a blue water navy going beyond the second island chain.[19] It is today in the third phase of its naval expansion even as it continues to further strengthen its Anti-access and Area Denial (AAAD) capabilities.[20] The other role of the Navy is to provide the deep-sea defence and “secure second strike nuclear capability” at sea.[21] The Chinese navy has made progress in both the surface and subsurface segment of its fleet. In the subsurface domain, the PLAN acquired 12 Russian-made Kilo Class conventional submarines since the mid-1990s and added four indigenously developed submarines. These include a Jin Class ‘Type 094’ nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) and a new Shang Class ‘Type 093/093’ nuclear attack submarine (SSN). The latest addition to the PLAN is the SSN dubbed the Song Class ‘Type 039/039G’.[22] Each of the Jin Class submarines will be equipped with 7,400-kilometre range JL-2 nuclear-armed submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Notably, Chinese gains in the submarine domain are the by-product of Russian designs.[23] While these capabilities reflect an advancement in the PLAN’s subsurface nuclear fleet, one cannot help but infer a crucial weakness is China’s dependence on Russia for critical subsystems and design engineering, if not entire platforms.

The Chinese navy’s surface fleet has also witnessed improvements. The latest addition is the first Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning ‘Type 001’ design vessel to the PLAN’s surface fleet. It is a conventionally powered carrier with a displacement of approximately 60,000 tonnes. A second carrier the Shandong is under construction and a third carrier is on its way.[24] The air arm of the Liaoning could potentially consist of a combination of 36 fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft including 24 J-15 fighters, six anti-submarine warfare helicopters, four airborne early warning helicopters, and two rescue choppers.[25] China expects to induct four to six aircraft carriers. The current and follow-on Shandong carrier might be limited by operating range, though not so, if reports are to be believed. The PLAN’s long-term ambitions include the acquisition of nuclear-powered carriers, resulting in two carrier strike groups operating in the Western Pacific and an additional two groups in the Indian Ocean.[26] The potential Chinese nuclear powered carriers will inevitably use electromagnetic catapult systems for the launch of carrier-based fighter aircraft.[27] Notwithstanding an absence of experience in operating carriers, the PLAN’s introduction of aircraft carriers provides additional weight to the Chinese navy’s surface warfare capabilities.

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF)

The PLAAF, too, has witnessed significant improvements in its capabilities. Changes in the PLAAF’s fighter fleet have been evident since the 1990s. The Chinese Air Force started acquiring a small number of fourth-generation fighters in 1996. However, weaknesses are also evident from internal PLA’s assessments of some platforms of its fighter fleet.

Beginning in the mid-1990s and for a decade and a half, the PLAAF’s numbers swelled to 30 percent of the force. By 2015, the size increased to roughly 51 percent of the fighter fleet of the PLAAF and will grow further to 62 percent by the current year.[28] It is estimated that the Chinese fourth-generation fighter fleet increased from 383 to 736 jets between 2010 to 2015 – a 92 percent jump in fighter air combat power.[29]

Today China operates roughly 1,200 short-range fighters. In service in the PLAAF’s fleet are approximately 400 J-7 fighters, which are reasonably efficient aircraft. Yet the J-7 fighter strength will decrease in numbers, replaced, as noted earlier, with more advanced fourth-generation jets. The PLAAF’s current fleet strength stands at approximately 1977 aircraft.[30]

The PLAAF is also driven to developing stealth capabilities for a segment of its fighter fleet. As of July 2014, the PLAAF has tested four prototypes for the J-20 and has undertaken a flight test of a second prototype of the J-31 with stealth features. Yet none of these jets has entered the production stage.[31] J-20’s AL-31 engine is Russian built, and the Chinese have sought to substitute the AL-31 with their own engine called the Taihang. Yet they are still unsure of the Taihang’s reliability as compared to its Russian counterpart. Consequently, they are currently undertaking developmental tests for another engine dubbed the WS-15 as an indigenous replacement for the AL-31.[32] More than the size of the Chinese Air Force, the crucial strength of the PLAAF lies in its establishment of a dense air defence network.[33]

The People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Forces (PLASAF) Regional Nuclear Deterrent

The PLASAF is the custodian and end user of China’s nuclear and missile forces. At its birth, the PLASAF was tasked primarily with operating nuclear tipped missiles. For several years, China’s nuclear-armed missile arsenal was saddled with a range of problems such as poor accuracy, protracted launch schedules and a relaxed alert posture. However, they were compatible with Beijing’s declared No-First Use (NFU) policy and a doctrine enshrining Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD).[34] A combined CMD-NFU policy necessitates only a small missile force that is capable of surviving a first strike and retaliating against the enemy’s counter value targets. However, the same restrictions are inapplicable to conventional strike missions, a role the PLASAF was ordered to perform. These technological advances of late have significantly improved the PLASAF’s strength in terms of survivability, accuracy and an invigorated capability for Chinese conventional missiles. Indian experts also agree that China is developing a strong second-strike nuclear capability, particularly vis-à-vis the US,[35] despite the limited size of its arsenal. Most independent analyses still support China’s adherence to NFU and a limited arsenal. The focus is entirely on security, accuracy, reliability and assured delivery. However, important changes are taking place in these areas as well.

The deployment of Chinese nuclear-armed ballistic missiles continues apace in order for Beijing to maintain regional nuclear deterrence. In the long term, its conventionally armed, medium-range ballistic missile forces are undergoing rapid change for the conduct of high-intensity regional military operations. To sustain this effort, at present the missile component of China’s regional military nuclear deterrent posture includes land-based nuclear-armed CSS-6 Mod 2 missiles.[36] Its conventional Medium Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBM) consist of CSS-5 missiles.[37] Beijing’s conventional missile capabilities are primarily directed against the adversary’s logistical nodes, communication links, facilities, and regional military sites such as air and naval bases.[38] Complementing the modernised expansion of its nuclear and missile forces, Chinese space military capabilities have undergone significant augmentation. Today China deploys and operates a proven Kinetic Anti-Satellite capability. It is making significant investments in ballistic missile capabilities to destroy satellites in Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO), its Satellite Navigation System, the BEIDOU, is an integral part of its military planning, and it is developing high-energy weapons systems, lasers, and high-powered microwave systems.[39] The ground nodes of its space segment have also undergone significant expansion, with China establishing satellite tracking stations within the mainland and in states such as Pakistan, Namibia and Chile.[40] In December 2015, following the Central Military Commission (CMC) reforms, the PLA reached a milestone establishing new services by first converting the Second Artillery into the PLA Rocket Forces (PLARF), which it complemented with the creation of PLA Strategic Support Force (PLASSF) that blends electronic, space and network warfighting capabilities into a single service.[41] Integrating weapons and developing a networked capability into a single service represents progress. However, the question remains whether the PLA is capable of inflicting quick and decisive blows against any potential adversary through joint operations.

Evaluations of the PLA Doctrine and Combined Arms Warfare Capabilities

How do these Chinese capabilities fit into assessments (whether Chinese, Indian or other), about the PLA’s emerging doctrine and operational posture? What possibilities exist for jointness for the PLA and its supporting arms? Indian assessments of the PRC’s emerging order of battle correlates strongly with the preceding sections on Chinese military strength measured in terms of actual military capabilities. From an Indian standpoint, Chinese modernisation since the initiation of military reforms is concentrated in two areas.

Despite improvements in the TTR discussed earlier, important challenges continue to face the PLA in the areas of jointness and efficiency. Optimising the fighting force to undertake combined arms warfare is a hurdle and remains a critical weakness. Command and Control (C2) for the conduct of joint is a universal problem in modern warfare.[42] A change in the PLA’s warfighting doctrine stands in contradiction to the structures within which it is being operationalised.[43] The doctrine stresses decentralisation, whereas the operational culture of the PLA focuses on centralisation. Two factors of vulnerability undermine the PLA’s C2 structure. First, the narrow or individual service interests of the PLA’s fighting arms denude effective coordination and cooperation in joint operations.[44] The second constraint and vulnerability is the primacy of ground-based officers assigned to critical command billets,[45] who could potentially constrain effective coordination and synchronisation in joint operations. Compounding these woes is the absence of Joint Command and Personnel and the necessary means for the training, planning, and execution of combined arms warfare.[46] Nevertheless, these reforms have also emphasised the reorganisation of the Group Army divisions and brigades. The PLA has undertaken significant manpower reductions to an estimated 30 divisions and introduced a new ranking system due to the incompatibility with the older ranking system with armies around the world.[47]

The future trajectory of the PLA could include a fully modernised Chinese armed force with an improved and well-integrated operational structure. These improvements could potentially spell danger to the Central Asian Republics, which border China and strengthen Beijing’s power projection capabilities into the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).[48]

A second Indian perspective assesses that China’s military modernisation dovetails Beijing’s increasingly assertive foreign policy, a pattern that has been evident since 2008.[49] The PLA is gearing its forces for new military missions and goals. Modernisation also serves the purpose of safeguarding Chinese interests and protecting Chinese expatriates living and working in countries that are part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).[50] Stretching from the Eurasian region to the Western Pacific, the Chinese, through military exchange programmes are increasing interoperability with the BRI countries, which field Chinese weapons systems.[51] The Chinese have modernised their forces to win informationised local wars. For this brand of warfare, the PLA emphasises network centricity of all weapons systems at sea, air and land connected in real time for the effective use of its weapons to service mission objectives and the protection of military assets.[52]

The thrust of the PLA’s modernisation is on non-contact wars which rely on psychological operations that compel the enemy into submission without an actual military engagement. This is reinforced by the PLA’s development of a strong navy, air force, army and the prosecution of special warfare operations at far seas.[53] There is evidence to suggest that the PLA is deliberating the creation of a strategic support force to sustain out-of-area operations and missions. Joint command at the highest combat level is mandatory for the PLA.[54] A corollary to this assessment of the PLA’s order of battle is the separation between its conventional and nuclear chain of command. Of particular relevance to India is the PLA’s establishment of the Tibetan Military Command (TMC).[55] A two-front war might no longer be relevant for New Delhi’s military and strategic planners as they should be evaluating and preparing for a one-front war. Beijing also seeks to engage in non-contact conflict which places a high premium on political and psychological dimensions of warfare.[56]

A third Indian perspective is generally consistent with the first two, since the PRC’s Central Military Commission (CMC) reforms that there will be a flattening of the higher military command to the extent it will be more streamlined with potentially considerable delegative power to lower echelon commanders in the PLA’s newly instituted combat zones.[57] This is consistent with recent non-Indian assessments as well as internal Chinese reports that there is an ongoing effort at improving the PLA command performance in joint operations through training courses.[58] This implies that proficiency in C2 operations is still a work in progress. It is a critical requirement and remains a benchmark of the PLA to emulate the successful American conduct of joint operations in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Yet this perspective on the ultimate goals of Chinese foreign policy diverges with the preceding two. The thrust of Chinese foreign policy will be on increasing its political influence,[59] presumably also with those with whom it has disputatious relations such as India and the other states around the Chinese rim land. In contrast to the second perspective, China is progressively moving away from informationised war to a war driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI).[60] To sustain the latter, China has been making ceaseless efforts to develop AI that it aims to surpass that of the US.[61] It is possible that China is planning and pursuing a combination of both informationised, and AI-based wars for the successful prosecution and conduct of C2 operations.


Over the last 25 years, Chinese military strength has undergone a quantum jump. This expansion has occurred not only relative to its most formidable foe – the United States of America, but most significantly it helped China surpass some its immediate neighbours such as India. This brief has provided a snapshot of China’s growing military power. China’s double-digit economic growth rates for three decades have given the PLA, PLAN, PLAAF AND PLASAF, the military wherewithal to inflict, at a minimum, heavy losses against its adversaries and, at a maximum, a defeat in the event of war. In the context of India’s modernisation of its own forces, the country’s military planners and decision-makers have to address trade-offs between firepower and manpower; this, the PLA has addressed to a considerable degree. They also have to deal with making hard choices in enabling the Indian armed services to effectively undertake joint operations. Here the PLA, notwithstanding some weaknesses, has made progress.

The cumulative increases in China’s defence spending have enabled it to surmount obstacles in the indigenous research and development of a range of conventional, missile, space and nuclear capabilities. Its capacity to prosecute four-dimensional warfare is substantial around its periphery and growing. Two critical conclusions can be derived from the PRC’s military modernisation. First, the PRC has amassed significant military strength since the 1990s and continues to modernise its forces, allowing it to project menacing military strength, without the PLA having to resort to a force of arms. This allows the PRC to win a contest without fighting a war. It is compatible with the age-old Chinese strategic emphasis on subduing the enemy psychologically and morally, without recourse to force. At the same time, if the PLA cannot compel its foe to do its will psychologically, the secondary conclusion is that the PLA is well-positioned—accruing from the impressive accumulation of military capabilities—if put to test, potentially fighting and winning a war with overwhelming force, at low cost, against any one of its adversaries on its periphery. Yet China’s military modernisation exhibits important weaknesses. To begin with, Chinese military strength remains untested in real battle for decades.


[1] Paul H.B. Godwin, “Changing Concepts of Doctrine, Strategy and Operations in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army 1978-1987, The China Quarterly, No. 112, December, 1987, p. 575.

[2] Paul H.B. Godwin, “Chinese Military Strategy Revised: Local and Limited War”, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 519, China’s Foreign Relations, January 1992, p. 193.

[3] Godwin, "Changing Concepts of Doctrine, Strategy and Operations in the People's Liberation Army 1978-1987", p. 576.

[4] Paul H.B. Godwin, “Chinese Military Strategy Revised: Local and Limited War”, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 519, China’s Foreign Relations, January, 1992, pp. 193-194

[5] Godwin “Changing Concepts of Doctrine, Strategy and Operations in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army”, pp. 573-574.

[6] p. 2, Dennis J. Blasko, Philip T. Klapakis and John F. Corbett Jr., "Training Tomorrow's PLA: A Mixed Bag of Tricks", The China Quarterly, No. 146, Special Issue: China's Military in Transition, June 1996, p. 491

[7] General Zhao Nanqi, “Deng Xiaoping’s Theory of Defense Modernization”, in Michael Pillsbury (ed.), Chinese Views of Future Warfare, (Washington D.C: National Defense University Press, 1997), p. 13

[8] Ibid.

[9] Eric Heginbotham, Michael Nixon, Forrest E. Morgan, Jacob L. Heim, Jeff Hegen, Sheng Li, Jeffrey Engstrom, Martin C. Libicki, Paul DeLuca, David A. Shlapak, David R. Frelinger, Burgess Laird, Kyle Brady, Lyle J. Morris, The U.S.-China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power, RAND Corporation (Santa Monica: CA, 2015), p. 4

[10] Michael S. Chase, Jeffrey Engstrom, Tai Ming Cheung, Kristen A. Gunness, Scott Warren Harold, Susan Puska, and Samuel K. Berkowitz, China’s Incomplete Military Transformation, (Santa Monica: CA, RAND Corporation), 2015, p. 3

[11] Ibid.

[12] Xiaonming Zhang, “China 1979 War with Vietnam: A Reassessment”, The China Quarterly, No. 184, December, 2005, p. 864

[13] Ibid.

[14] Presentation by Gen. S.L. Narsimhan, ‘China’s Military Modernisation: Recent Trends’, Workshop: On ‘China’s Military Modernisation: Recent Trends’, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi, 16 March, 2017 available at [].

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ben Lowsen, “Overview: China’s People Liberation Army Equipment at a Glance”, The Diplomat, []

[17] See particularly Appendix for views on Information Warfare and Digitization expressed by PLA Major General Wang Pufeng in William T. Hagestad II, 21st Century Chinese Cyberwarfare, (Cambridge, IT Governance Publishing 2012), pp. 289-290.

[18] Ibid.

[19] The author thanks the anonymous reviewer for this point.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ronald O’Rourke, “China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities - Background and Issues for Congress”, Congressional Research Service, p. 10, 6 June, 2017, available at [].

[23] Ibid, p. 18.

[24] Ibid, p. 18-26

[25] Ibid, pp. 18-19

[26] Robert Farley, “China’s Under Construction Aircraft Carrier Isn’t the One to Worry About, It’s the One that Comes After”, War Is Boring, 5 November 2016.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Heginbotham et al., The U.S.-China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power, p. 75.

[29] Ibid.

[30] “World Air Forces:2016”, Flight International, p. 15

[31] U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, 2014 Report to Congress, Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2014, p. 311.

[32] “China’s J-20 Fighter Jet May Get a Homemade Engine”, China Military Online, 8 September, 2017, [].

[33] Robert Farley, “China’s Military Has Nearly 3000 Aircraft”, The Diplomat, 17 May, 2016, []

[34] Eric Heginbotham, Michael Chase, Jacob Heim, Bonny Lin, Mark R. Cozad, Lyle J. Morris, Christopher P. Twomey, Forrest E. Morgan, Michael Nixon, Christina L. Garafola and Samuel K. Berkowitz, “Domestic Factors Could Accelerate the Evolution of China’s Nuclear Posture”, Research Brief, Document No. RB-9956-AF, RAND Corporation, (Santa Monica: CA, 2017), p. 3

[35] Manoj Joshi, “China on course to a strong military”, Workshop On ‘China’s Military Modernisation: Recent Trends’, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi, 16 March, 2017 available at [].

[36] Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat, Defense Intelligence Ballistic Missile Analysis Committee (NASIC), 2017 p.22 accessible at []

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Manoj Joshi, ‘China on Course to a Strong Military’.

[40] Section 2: “China’s Space and Counterspace Programs”, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commisssion, 2016, [,%20Section%202%20-%20China's%20Space%20and%20Counterspace%20Programs.pdf]

[41] Dean Cheng, ‘Evolving Chinese Thinking About Deterrence: The Nuclear Dimension’, Backgrounder, The Heritage Foundation, p. 4

[42] Joel Wuthnow, “A Brave New World for Chinese Joint Operations”, China and the World Program, 3 March, 2017, []

[43] Gen. Narsimhan, “China on Course to a Strong Military”, Workshop On ‘China’s Military Modernisation: Recent Trends’, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi, 16 March, 2017 available at [].

[44] Wuthnow, “A Brave New World For Chinese Joint Operations”, pp. 2-11

[45] Ibid.

[46] Gen. Narsimhan, “China on Course to a strong Military”..

[47] Ibid.

[48] ibid

[49] Pravin Sawhney, ‘Çhina’s Military Modernisation: Recent Trends’, Workshop On ‘China’s Military Modernisation: Recent Trends’, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi, 16 March, 2017 available at [].

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Manoj Joshi, “China on Course to a Strong Military”.

[58] “PLA aims to cultivate commanding talents for joint operations”, China Military Online, 7 September, 2017, []

[59] Manoj Joshi, ‘Çhina on Course to a strong Military”.

[60] Ibid.

[61] ibid.


Kartik Bommakanti