Political Science

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Panorama of the Great Wall of China.

China’s Re-emergence: Assessing Civilian-Military Relations in the Contemporary Era

by Kurtis Simpson

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Kurtis H. Simpson has been conducting research on China’s leadership, Communist Party politics, the People’s Liberation Army and foreign policy for over 30 years. After receiving a scholarship to study in Nanjing following the ‘Tiananmen Massacre’ of 1989, he completed both a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D at York University and commenced his professional career as an intelligence analyst at the Privy Council Office in 1997. He subsequently assumed leadership of the Asia Research Section at the Department of National Defence’s Chief Defence Intelligence (CDI) organization, and has filled numerous Director’s Positions in Transnational Relations, Global Issues, Policy, Programmes, and Personnel. He has published over 100 largely classified assessments, articles, and conference proceedings, and has served as the Head of Delegation abroad for the Canadian government. Dr. Simpson has recently been named a Centre Director with Defence Research and Development Canada.


China’s rising economic, political and military power is the most geopolitically significant development of the post-Cold War period. For some, America’s unipolar moment has passed, and the essential debates now focus on the rate and relativity of US hegemonic decline.1 In tandem with this, the question of can China rise peacefully must be considered?2 All such external preoccupations rest, however, on assumptions of continued economic growth and internal stability.3 The tipping point in both positive and negative scenarios alike in China is civilian-military (civ-mil) relations. This single factor is all determining, under-studied, and currently in a period of profound transition.

To date, the literature on civ-mil relations in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is overly reductionist in its scope, simplifying relations between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to a single entity, built on dubious assumptions (for example, over-emphasizing the reach and control of the Party) and finally, prone to exaggerating some trends, most notably professionalization of the military, at the expense of others, including divided loyalties, the decentralization of power, and the endless political bargaining that now characterizes the relations between Party, military, and bureaucratic stakeholders.

The purpose of this article is threefold. It will first place civ-mil relations in a historical context, mapping fundamental transitional changes between the revolutionary period (1921-1949), the politicized era (1949-1976), and the modernization years (1976-2014). Second, it will highlight evolving trend lines in CCP-PLA relations, identifying emerging tensions. Third, it will provide a cursory assessment of early signals or indications of future friction points.

A critical review of civ-mil relations in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) makes apparent that the military’s political power resources are increasing; a relationship of ‘conditional compliance’ now exists where the Party is required to negotiate with the PLA on key issues (whether it be funding increases, force development, or foreign policy priorities) for its continued support. As a result, the potential for fractures between the Party and PLA are increasingly possible during crises situations.

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Surface-to-surface conventional guided missile formation during a military parade in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China.

Prior to beginning with a historic examination of civilian-military relations in China, we need first to root our discussion in a viable theoretical framework, or model, in which to help organize the information/evidence being considered. As expansively covered by Michael Kiselycznyk and Phillip Saunders, perspectives on Chinese elite politics are relatively few in number, and often period specific.4 Each is not without its limitations, but all have explanatory potential. Of growing relevance, however, is the bureaucratic politics approach, because not only does it easily incorporate the tenets of earlier schools (such as symbiosis, factionalism, and the Party control lens) it, moreover, best captures the PRC’s current political landscape of distributive power. In essence, since the 1978 economic reforms, the CCP’s receding ideological justification for rule, and varied rates of development in China’s 34 provinces, the country has increasingly witnessed ‘fragmentary authoritarianism,’ where the control of a paramount leader (such as Mao Zedong) is greatly reduced, a growing separation between the economic and political spheres more pronounced, and individual ‘pockets’ of authority—often the result of ‘factions’ within both the Party and the PLA—more evident. The end result of this is increased “bargaining” both between and within government and military apparatuses, a process which requires negotiations, exchanges, and consensus building.5 This type of interaction is strikingly different than that which first typified Party-PLA relations in the early revolutionary period.

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Suspected communists being taken for execution by Kuomintang and Green Gang forces during the ‘White Terror’, Shanghai, 1927. ‘White Terror’ describes a period of political suppression enacted by the Kuomintang party under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek. It began in 1927 following the purge of the communist Party of China in Shanghai.

Party-PLA Relations during the Revolutionary Period (1921-1949)

The CCP (founded in 1921) and the PLA (established in 1927) originally enjoyed a level of intimate interaction or ‘fusion’ typical of the militaries and revolutionaries coalescing in a united front, or common cause, to overthrow an existent political order. This pattern is well documented, and will only be briefly touched upon here.6 In short, where elites regularly circulate between military and non-military posts, a symbiotic relationship forms where ideas, authorities, allegiances and circles of interaction take root, fostering a common commitment and vision towards a desired end state. In the case of China, what is referred to as ‘symbiosis’ started in 1934-35 while the Communists were in retreat during “The Long March” period. As a consequence of this shared experience, close cooperation between military and civilian figures resulted in significant overlap in leadership roles, with key individuals (most notably Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping) being dubbed “dual role elites.”7

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Mao Tse Tung (Zedong) addresses followers during the Long March, 1937.

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Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, Beijing, 1959.

Up until the declaration of Chinese independence, the military was a major recruiter for the Party and a strict ratio of Party members to non-Party members among combat soldiers was upheld. They were, in a sense, two faces of the same organized elite. For many years, political leaders were also generals or political commissars in military units; the party and the army “…formed throughout their history a single institutional system, with a single elite performing simultaneously the functions of political and military leadership.”8 While in many respects effective and efficient, the merger of the military with the political, particularly absent of institutions, over time opened the door to significant infighting when differences arose, often ending in intensive ideological campaigns (such as the Great Leap Forward, 1958-1961), massive popular mobilizations, and widespread national unrest.

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Mao Zedong reviews Red Guards, 1966.

The Politicization of the PLA under Mao Zedong (1949-1976)

Upon assuming power, Chairman Mao Zedong early on turned to the military to champion and enable his ideas and to serve as his last line of defence. While less critical in the honeymoon period of the early-1950s, the PLA was increasingly drawn into the political realm, most notably during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), a decade long period of social turmoil and populist furor spawned by the PRC’s senior most leaders. While beyond the scope of this article to discuss in any detail, the research of others chronicles how overtly enmeshed in politics the PLA became during this period, serving as a direct tool of Mao and his inner clique.9

Photo ID B58PY3 © Robert Harding/Alamy Stock Photo

Demonstration on Tiananmen Square during the Cultural Revolution in 1967, Beijing.

Unable to effectively mobilize radicals and students, in early January 1967, Mao and the Central Cultural Revolutionary Group (CCRG) ordered troops to ‘support the masses of the revolutionary left.’ As the campaign developed and became ever more chaotic over the following months, the army was subsequently directed to restore order, ultimately granting PLA members sweeping latitude to use any means necessary to reaffirm peace.10 In a fluid political situation, PLA members were pitted against the populace, who asserted they were acting as directed by China’s leaders, forced to adjudicate between opposing interests, and autonomously resolve unrest all over the country with no rules of engagement, clear direction, or often even understanding of the context of a given problem as it varied dramatically throughout China depending on the parties involved, the interpretation of the ideological direction being followed, and the local agendas at play.

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Chairman Mao Zedong with Lin Biao, 1949.

For more than a decade, the PLA was the only institution in the PRC still functioning. The military was decisive in both policy-making and determining power struggles on many levels.11 While the details remain opaque, in 1970-1971, military commanders were reportedly divided, with some supporting Marshal Lin Biao, Vice-Premier, in a purported counter-revolutionary coup d’état. Throughout the period, other incidents of intra-party conflict drew the military into non-military matters and significantly eroded earlier periods of harmonious symbiosis. With the death of Mao in 1976 and the rehabilitation of Deng, specific actions were undertaken to modernize the military and professionalize it. While successful on many fronts, these transformations have also not been without complications and unanticipated consequences.

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Deng Xiaoping during the celebration of the 35th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing, 1 October 1984.

A New Focus on Modernization (1976-2012): Defining Trends

Increased Professionalization

In the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, the PLA has become a focal point for reform, improvement, and de-politicization. The armed forces were downsized from 4.5 million to 2.2 today. It is rapidly becoming a more modern force which is increasingly educated, better equipped, more regimented with retirements, selection and recruiting. Doctrinal adjustments are regularly made and announced in biannual Defence White Papers, moving the army along a continuum away from land based notions of “People’s War” to concepts like “Limited War under High Technology Conditions.”12 Highlights of this trajectory include: professional military education; specialization in key knowledge sectors like cyber security; a primacy placed on science and technology; improved training and augmented technical skills; the integration and operation of more sophisticated military kit; improvements to command and control; and a focus upon combined joint operations.13

Since 1997, China’s military budget has increased at double digit rates, with much of these augmentations going to offset higher salaries, better housing, and improved facilities. In 2014, official defence spending was published as US$ 131.57 billion; the second largest in the world, and by some intelligence estimates, only half the actual number.14 Increased professionalism is, however, a two-edged sword. While on one level it removes the military from the daily entanglements of political life, it also promotes a greater sense of autonomy, corporateness, and a sense of responsibility to intervene if vital interests are threatened, coupled with the expertise to do, so should the occasion arise.15

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Massive parade commemorating 70th anniversary of victory over Japan, 3 September 2015.

A Reduced Emphasis upon Political Work or Ideological Study

While exceptions to the rule exist (such as the immediate period following the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre), military professionalization has generally resulted in less emphasis on political work and political education (relative to the time spent on military duties). The eroding foundations of Communist ideology are particularly of high impact on the military, as this calls directly into question the forces’ raison d’être—the promotion of Communist ideals through revolution and unqualified support of the Party. While Marxist ideology can still be invoked as required justification when needed, it is not treated in the sacrosanct manner it once was and this significantly reduces the ‘connective tissue’ seamlessly joining the Party and the PLA.

The Growing Bifurcation of Elites

China’s transition into a developed country with a relatively modern military force has demanded a move away from “dual role elites” to streams of distinct and separate senior officials who no longer share similar backgrounds, work experiences, or career paths. Promoted according to functional area expertise, few common bonds (including formal educational experience, common technical knowledge, shared management history, and common political connections) join military professionals, Party leaders, and senior civil servants, as was once the case with their revolutionary predecessors. The implications of this are important. Common frames of reference do not currently exist, and the potential for miscommunication is high. Civilian leaders do not regularly interact with their military counterparts, and a general ignorance of military tactics, training, and procedures continues, which is not systematized through effective briefing channels.16 In short, the growing bifurcation of elites impedes relationships built on trust as the distance between the military sphere and the political sphere lengthens. In particular, varying perspectives on national security issues are increasingly evident.

Divided State-Party-Citizenry Loyalties

In China, theoretically, the Communist Party, state apparatus, and military are all distinct entities with formal authorities, accountabilities, and responsibilities. In practice, the Party dominates all according to varying degrees through its membership, appointment routines, and sanctions. This too, however, is evolving. As China modernizes, power is becoming more decentralized, and the legitimacy of the Party (or lack thereof) is linked almost solely to the country’s economic performance. In fundamental respects, China’s legislature (or National People’s Congress) and its Standing Committee are now more appropriately serving an oversight function of the military. Directly linked to this is the NPC’s role in approving the military’s annual budget allocation. Once a ‘rubber-stamp’ process, this is less and less the case.

The emergence of a stronger state structure with ties to the military is fostering a duality of legally and administratively distinct centres (one state, one party) with which the PLA must successfully interact, each often sharing overlaps in membership, but at times competing and conflicting agendas.17 In short, where the Party provides guidance and direction, the state administers and implements policy on a day-to-day basis. The constitutional ambiguity of the military’s allegiance to the Party and the state potentially fosters conflictual loyalties, and challenges the asserted shorthand understanding that the Party and PLA are indivisible and the same. Moreover, the Army’s de facto loyalty to China’s citizenry is historically founded (hence the name “the People’s Liberation Army”), and when tested on 4 June 1989 [Tiananmen Square uprising in Beijing], manifested itself in command and control issues (troops in some cases would not fire of protestors). Long-standing damage to a relationship previously viewed by both sides as inviolable continues to this day, and many assert that even if ordered, such violent suppression would not happen again in light of this precedent and the fallout from it.18

Bobby Yip/Reuters photo RTRF4GN

Student protesters arriving at Tiananmen Square to join other pro-democracy demonstrators, May 1989.

Internal Factionalism within the PLA

Paralleling divided loyalties between Chinese Party, military and government bodies, one must also recognize that within each, factions exist, based upon generational, personal, professional, geographic, or institutional allegiances.19 These minor fault lines are most pronounced during crises, and they continue independent of professionalization.20 As was demonstrated by the civil-military dynamics of the Chinese government’s suppression of student demonstrators, both divisions and allegiances of interests emerged with respect to how to contain this situation and factional interests largely determined which troops would carry out the orders, who commanded them, what civilian Party leaders supported the actions, and who would be sanctioned following the mêlée. A consequence of factionalism within the PLA is that the Party’s control mechanisms (particularly because rule of law and constitutional restraints on the military are weak) needs to be robust to control not only a single military chain of command but (particularly during crises) perhaps more than one. This is not likely the case. A review of the evidence indicates the military’s influence, on the whole, is increasing, and the Party’s control decreasing.

On one level, the Party clearly controls the military as the Central Military Commission or CMC (the highest military oversight body in the PRC) is chaired by a civilian, President Xi Jinping. Moreover, the PLAs representation on formal political decision making bodies (such as the Politburo Standing Committee, the Politburo, the Central Committee, and the NPC) has decreased over the years, but this does not necessary equate to a reduced level of influence. For example, the two Vice-Chairman of the CMC are now military generals, as are the remaining other eight members. Irrespective of institutional membership, military leaders retain considerable say. Personal interactions and informal meetings with senior party elites provide venues to sway decisions. They do, also, hold important places on leading small groups dedicated to issues like Taiwan and other security questions, such as the South China Seas.21

In a similar vein, other methods of Party influence, as exercised through political commissars, party committees, and discipline inspection commissions are no longer empowered to enforce the ideological dictates of a paramount leader. In the face of diffuse reporting chains, competing allegiances, and often effective socialization by the military units they are supposed to be watching over, most do not provide the Party guardian and guidance function once so pervasive.

While perhaps overstated, Paltiel’s observation that “…China’s energies over the past century and half have given the military a prominent and even dominant role in the state, preempting civilian control and inhibiting the exercise of constitutional authority” is likely now truer than ever before in history.22 While still loyal to the party as an institution, the PLA is not unconditionally subservient to a particular leader and retains the resources to enter the political arena if (at the highest levels) a decision is made to do so.

Assessing the Implications of the Civilian-Military Trend Lines in China

The civilian-military trend lines evident in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution affirm that the symbiotic nature of the Party-PLA relationship has morphed in important respects since the late1960s. The promotion of professionalism, a reduced role for ideological indoctrination, an increasing bifurcation of civil-military elites, and growing state powers (complete with divided loyalties and continued factionalism) has complicated the political landscape informing how the CCP interacts with the PLA. If, as postulated, we have moved from a fused, ‘dual role elite’ model to one of ‘conditional compliance’ in which the military actually holds a preponderance of the power capabilities and where its interests are satisfied through concessions, bargaining, and pay-offs, empirical evidence should reflect this. A review of China’s three major leadership changes since the transition from the revolutionary ‘Old Guard’ to the modern technocrats confirms this.

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Cuban President Fidel Castro gestures towards Chinese President Jiang Zemin during the latter’s visit to Cuba, 21 November 1993.

Jiang Zemin (1989-2004)

Formally anointed and legitimized by Deng in 1989, Jiang assumed leadership without military credentials and few allies, viewed by many as a ‘caretaker’ Party Secretary in the wake of the Tiananmen Massacre. Despite his limitations, Jiang was well versed in the vicissitudes of palace politics. Informed by a high political acumen, he immediately promoted an image as an involved Commander-in-Chief, personally visiting all seven military regions, a sign of commitment not made by either the likes of Mao or Deng. Symbolic gestures like this were bolstered by his providing incentives to the PLA, such as: consistent raises in the defence budget; funds for military modernization; as well as equipment, logistics, and augmented R&D.23

Referred to as the ‘silk-wrapped needle,’ Jiang marshalled Party resources to not only reward, but to punish.24 His institutional authority over appointments enabled him to manipulate factions, dismiss those who opposed him, enforce new rigid retirement standards, and promote loyalists. A delicate equilibrium was established during the early-1990s until his semi-retirement in 2004,25 where Jiang guaranteed military priorities such as supporting ‘mechanization’ and an ‘information-based military’ (promoting the concept of RMA with Chinese characteristics) in exchange for the PLA backing of his legacy contributions to Marxist Leninist Mao Zedong thought with the enshrinement of his “Three Represents” doctrine.

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First row, L to R Chinese President Hu Jintao, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Back row, L to R, US President George Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Surayud Chulanont, Prime Minister of Thailand during a joint photo, 19 November 2006.

Hu Jintao (2002-2012)

Like Jiang, Hu Jintao’s succession was the product of negotiation, compromise, and concessions. While neither opposed by the PLA, nor supported by the military ‘brass,’ Hu was a known commodity, having served as Vice-President (1998) and CMC Vice-Chairman since 1999. He was deemed acceptable until proven otherwise. In the shadow of Jiang (who retained the position of CMC Chair until 2004), Hu did not exert the same kind of influence in, nor engender the same kind of deference from, China’s military, but equally proved capable of fostering a pragmatic relationship with the army which ensured its interests, and in so doing, legitimized his leadership position.

Ceding much of the military planning and operational decisions to the PLA directly, Hu played to his strengths and focused upon national security issues (such as the successful resolution of SARs in China), which bolstered his credibility as a populist leader among the masses, indirectly increasing his power within both the military and the Party. Additionally, he focused upon foreign military security affairs (most notably, North Korea-US negotiations), which enabled him to link his personal political agenda with the military’s latest ambitions.

In according the military a distinct place in China’s national development plan, supporting China’s rise, and ensuring its vital interests, Hu recognized the military’s evolving requirement to ‘go global’ and its worldwide interests in non-combat operations, such as peacekeeping and disaster relief, as well as stakes in the open seas, outer space, and cyberspace as interest frontiers with no geographic boundaries.26 Under the slogan of ‘China’s historical mission in the new phase of the new century’ and his acquiescence to the PLA’s stated requirements ‘to win local wars under modern conditions’ by funding new technology acquisition, Hu received the army’s formal recognition for his contributions to military thought based upon “scientific development” which informed a “strategic guiding theory,” resulting in a new operational orientation for China’s military. Emulating his predecessor, Hu won ‘conditional compliance’ from the PLA by successfully bartering military needs and wants for the army’s support and endorsement of his political tenure. This was not done outside of self-interest. Hu, as did Jiang, skillfully coopted, fired, and promoted select Generals to serve his greater ends, and he did this through varied means. Ultimately, however, it was done in a manner acceptable to the military.

Marko Djurica/Reuters photo RTX2GVTU

Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews the guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony in Belgrade, Serbia, 18 June 2016.

Xi Jinping (2012-Present)

Xi Jinping’s rise to power in 2012, while replicating the ‘horse-trading’ of Jiang and Hu, marks a fundamental departure in leadership style. Often described as a transformative leader, Xi is openly critical of his predecessors and rails against earlier periods where reform stalled and corruption grew.27 An advocate of ‘top-level design,’ incrementalism is being supplanted by a massive attempt to centralize all aspects of the CCP’s power, which includes a major restructuring of the economy, government, administration, and military.

Nicknamed “the gun and the knife” as a slight for his attempts to simultaneously control the army, police, spies, and the ‘graft busters,’ Xi’s power appears uncontested at present. Nevertheless, he is also viewed as ‘pushing the envelope too far’ and endangering the equilibrium which has been established between the Party and PLA over the past 25 years. For example, only two years into his mandate, he fostered a Cult of Personality, “the Spirit of Xi Jinping” which was officially elevated to the same standing as that of Mao and Deng, by comparison, foundational figures in Chinese history. His open attacks of political ‘enemies’ (most notably Zhou Yongkang, a Politburo Standing Committee member and former security czar) breeds fear among almost every senior official, all of whom are vulnerable on some point. Equally true, an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign is inciting comrades to turn on comrades, not unlike a massive game of prisoner’s dilemma.

Nowhere is the pressure for reform greater than in the PLA. Xi advocates administering the army with strictness and austerity, promoting frugality and obedience. At his direction, “mass-line educational campaigns” designed to “rectify work style” through criticism and self-criticism are being implemented.28 Ideological and political building is now equated with army building, as a means of ensuring the Party’s uncontested grip over the troops ideologically, politically, and organizationally. Select military regions (those opposite Taiwan and adjacent to the South China Seas) and commanders from those regions are witnessing favoritism and promotion at the expense of others. Moreover, a new “CMC Chairmanship Responsibility System” has been instituted, which directly calls into question the support of some of Xi’s senior-most generals.

A ‘hardliner’ by nature, Xi recognizes that he must earn the support of the PLA. New military priorities he supports include: accelerating modernization; Joint Command and C4ISR; training; talent management, as well as equipment and force modernization. That said, his goal of achieving the Chinese dream of building a “wealthy, powerful, democratic, civilized, and harmonious socialist modernized nation” by 2021, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP, is exceptionally ambitious. It will require endless commitments to competing interests in a period of economic stagnation and global economic downturn. Should the PLA come to believe they are not first in line for government largess, support for Xi could erode very quickly.29

Conclusion and Outlook

Projections of China’s purported rise to global Superpower status, or its possible implosion due to political infighting, an economic downturn, or large-scale civil unrest resulting from any number of possible reasons (ranging from the rural-urban divide or massive health issues) makes for rich debate. What is certain is that regardless of outcome, China’s civil-military relations will be a determining factor in how events unfold. This subject matter is profoundly understudied by Western scholars, particularly since the relationship between the Party and the PLA has been witnessing a fundamental transformation since the late-1960s.

Civilian-military relations in the PRC have morphed from a symbiotic nature during the revolutionary period (1921-1949), to a political nature after the founding of China in 1949, to a situation best described as ‘conditional compliance’ in the modernization era (1976-2014), where PLA support was secured through funding increases, political bartering, and guarantees to prioritize military development goals on an a priori basis with other competing domestic interests. Conditional compliance is an outcome of evolving civ-mil trends, which include the PLA’s professionalization and its growing sense of autonomy, reduced political study and indoctrination among Officers and enlisted men alike, the growing bifurcation of military and civilian elites, a sense of divided loyalties between the military, state, Party, and populace, as well as factionalism and weakened Party levers of control.

Irrespective of these trends, under the leadership reigns of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao (stretching from 1989-2012) an equilibrium was established where both the Party and PLA secured mutually beneficial results useful enough to keep the arrangement functioning. The succession of hardline Xi Jinping in 2012 is, however, increasingly calling this delicate balance into question.

Xi’s massive ongoing recentralization of power goals, his ‘Cult of Personality’ as China’s paramount leader, rather than acting as ‘first among peers,’ his prosecution of all possible political threats, and his zealous commitment to Communist ideology over all else, fundamentally risks alienating now entrenched alternative centres of power or ‘fragmentary authoritarianism,’ which has been a product of China’s modernization. If this proves true, there is a very realistic case for the PLA to redefine or terminate its backing of the Communist Party and opt for a new type of power sharing arrangement.

While impossible to predict, key indicators capable of fomenting such a dramatic change in China include the following: (a) President Xi pushing his personal agenda for China and self-aggrandizement to a point where it fundamentally challenges other entrenched interests; (b) a political-military crisis (such as with Japan and the East China Seas, Taiwan, or interests in the South China Seas) which involve external nations—particularly the US—and divide civilian/military interests on how to respond; or (c) a social crisis where mass mobilization takes place and civ-mil factions disagree on either how address the situation, or on who makes the decision when and where to act.

Each of the dire scenarios listed is a real possibility and all would be determined by the nature of civ-mil relations in China. Increased scholarly attention, critical thinking, and improved surveillance of early warning signals portending such possibilities must become a priority for Western intelligence analysts, militaries, and strategic planners.

Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters photo RTXTHMJ

A protester in the traditional costume Kimono shouts slogans during an anti-Chinese march in Tokyo, 16 October 2010.


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  1. See for example Christopher Layne, “This Time It’s Real: The End of Unipolarity and the Pax Americana,” in International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 56, 2012, pp. 203-213.
  2. The most objective and balanced report of the shift to global multipolarity and the rise of China can be found in National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030: Alternate Worlds. NIC 2012-01, December 2012.
  3. For a summary of the risks to China, see David Shambaugh, “The Coming Chinese Crackup,” in The Wall Street Journal, 6 March 2015. http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-coming-chinese-crack-up-1425659198
  4. Michael Kiselycznyk and Phillip C. Saunders, “Civil-Military Relations in China: Assessing the PLA’s Role in Elite Politics,” in Institute for National Strategic Studies China Strategic Perspectives, No.2. (Washington, DC: National Defence University Press, 2010), p.11.
  5. Kenneth G. Lieberthal, “Introduction: The ‘Fragmented Authoritarianism” Model and Its Limitations,” in Bureaucracy, Politics, and Decision Making in Post-Mao China, edited by Kenneth G. Lieberthal and David M. Lampton, (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992, pp.6-10.
  6. Jeremy Paltiel, “Civil-Military Relations in China: An Obstacle to Constitutionalism?” in Journal of Chinese Law, No. 9 (1995), pp. 35-64.
  7. Andrew Scobell, “Why the People’s Army Fired on the People: The Chinese Military and Tiananmen,” in Armed Forces & Society, Vol. 18, No. 2, Winter 1992, p.194.
  8. Paltiel, p. 44.
  9. See for example Li Ke and Chi Shengzhang, The Liberation Army in the Great Cultural Revolution. (Beijing: Zhonggong Dangshi Ziliao Chubanshe, 1989).
  10. For a very good summary of this period see Andrew Scobell, “Seventy-Five Years of Civil-Military Relations: Lessons Learned.” The Lessons of History: The People’s Liberations Army at 75, edited by Laurie Burkitt, Andrew Scobell, and Larry M.Wortzel. US Army War College: July 2003, pp. 427-450.
  11. Jagannath P. Panda, “Leadership, Factional Politics and China’s Civil-Military Dynamic: Post-17th Party Congress Patterns,” in Strategic Analysis, Vol. 33, No. 5, August 2009, pp.716-729.
  12. The continual list of adaptive initiatives to China’s military are well chronicled in regular online publications, such as The China Brief produced by the Jamestown Foundation. http://www.jamestown.org/chinabrief/
  13. For an comprehensive assessment of China’s military modernization see, Michael S. Chase et.al., China’s Incomplete Military Transformation-Assessing the Weaknesses of the PLA. (Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 2015). www.rand.org/t/RR893
  14. Consistent number/estimates are published online http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_China
  15. Andrew Scobell, “China’s Evolving Civil-Military Relations: Creeping Guojia.” Armed Forces and Society, Vol. 31, No. 2, Winter 2005, pp.227-244.
  16. After reviewing incidents with the US and Japanese militaries and aspects of Sino-Taiwanese threat posturing, Andrew Scobell concludes that “….the incidents strongly suggest that civilian leaders were not aware of the specific activities and timetables, and had poor oversight.” See Andrew Scobell, “Is There a Civil-Military Gap in China’s Peaceful Rise?” in Parameters, Summer 2009, p.14.
  17. Andrew Scobell, “China’s Evolving Civil-Military Relations: Creeping Guojia,” in Armed Forces and Society, Vol. 31, No. 2, Winter 2005, pp.227-244.
  18. Andrew Scobell, “Why the People’s Army Fired on the People: The Chinese Military and Tiananmen,” in Armed Forces & Society, Vol. 18, No. 2, Winter 1992, pp.193-213.
  19. Often cited factions include the Shanghai faction, the Party Youth League faction, the Communist Party School faction, and others across a broad political spectrum, or those based upon the PLA’s field army structure.
  20. Thomas J. Bickford, “A Retrospective on the Study of Chinese Civil Military Relations Since 1979: What have we learned? Where do we go?” in Seeking Truth from Facts: A Retrospective on Chinese Military Studies in the Post-Mao Era, edited by James C Mulvenon. (Washington DC: Rand Centre for Asia Pacific Policy, 2001), pp.23-24.
  21. Michael D. Swaine, The Role of the Chinese Military in National Security Policymaking. (Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 1998).
  22. Paltiel, “Civil-Military Relations in China…”, p. 39.
  23. Wei-Chin, Lee. “China’s Military after the Sixteenth Party Congress: Long March to Eternity,” in JAAS, Vol. 38, No. 4-5, 2003, p. 429.
  24. Reports indicate that by 1992 alone early retirements, rotations, or dismissals led to the replacement of almost half of the PLA generals (some 300 individuals). As well, the commanders and political commissars of all seven MRs were changed, enshrining Jiang at the forefront of PLA leadership. A second wave of reorganization occurred between 1993-1995, which resulted in the demotion of a further 100 officers.
  25. In a deal reached between both Party and PLA leaders, Jiang (like Deng) upon retirement retained Chairmanship of the Central Military Commission to ensure continuity of leadership and to retain a powerbase to fully protect his own personal interests.
  26. Jagannath P. Panda, “Leadership, Factional Politics and China’s Civil-Military Dynamic,” p.721.
  27. Joseph Fewsmith, “The 16th Party Congress: Implications for Understanding Chinese Politics,” in China Leadership Monitor-The Hoover Institute, 2003, pp.43-53.
  28. James C. Mulvenon, “Comrade, Where’s My Military Car? Xi Jinping’s Throwback Mass-Line Campaign to Curb PLA Corruption.” in China Leadership Monitor-The Hoover Institute, No. 42, pp.1-5.
  29. Press reports as early as 2013 suggest that while the PLA continues to pay homage to Xi, support is more ritualistic than sincere and being exacerbated by his factional tendencies.