In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. M. Taylor Fravel joins us to discuss whether China has become more militarily assertive toward its neighbors during the pandemic. Dr. Fravel argues that, although some expected the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to halt or reduce its activity during the Covid-19 pandemic, the level of Chinese assertiveness seen prior to the pandemic has continued during the pandemic. He adds that the PLA’s ability to dispatch medical teams within China during the pandemic while maintaining its pace of operations in regional disputes shows that China is reaping the rewards of two decades of PLA modernization. Lastly, Dr. Fravel describes the benefits of increasing US collaboration with countries on the front lines of Chinese disputes.
Dr. Fravel is the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and Director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Fravel studies international relations, with a focus on international security, China, and East Asia. His books include, Strong Borders, Secure Nation: Cooperation and Conflict in China’s Territorial Disputes, (Princeton University Press, 2008) and Active Defense: China’s Military Strategy Since 1949 (Princeton University Press, 2019). His other publications have appeared in International Security, Foreign Affairs, Security Studies, International Studies Review, The China Quarterly, The Washington Quarterly, Journal of Strategic Studies, Armed Forces & Society, Current History, Asian Survey, Asian Security, China Leadership Monitor, and Contemporary Southeast Asia.