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The 20th Party Congress and the PLA: A Conversation with Joel Wuthnow

In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Joel Wuthnow joins us to discuss emerging future trends in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Dr. Wuthnow explains the key patterns of the structure of the PLA and how it has changed under Xi in the context of increasing emphasis on military modernization. He also discusses the potential impact of the 20th Party Congress on the PLA modernization process, believing that the Party Congress is unlikely to introduce dramatic changes, but we should pay attention to the new composition of the Central Military Commission (CMC). Lastly, Dr. Wuthnow comments on the implications of the key trends within the PLA, arguing the leadership reshuffle could affect the PLA’s assessment of its readiness and capabilities and those of its adversaries.

The PLA at 95 and the Current Crisis in the Taiwan Strait: A Conversation with Roderick Lee

In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Mr. Roderick Lee joins us to discuss the state of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as it marks its 95th anniversary. He lays out President Xi Jinping’s unique relationship with the military, discussing Xi’s personal affiliation with the PLA early in his career and the reforms of the PLA Xi has enacted as President. Mr. Lee argues that current PLA exercises near Taiwan are part of a “textbook” PLA deterrence strategy meant to demonstrate PLA capabilities and intimidate Taiwan. He notes that despite the unprecedented PLA escalation, Beijing has demonstrated restraint and seeks to avoid a full confrontation. Lastly, Mr. Lee comments on the long-term impacts of the ongoing PLA exercises, believing that they will provide strong insights into the PLA, its strategy, and its capabilities going forward.

Military / Series

How Deep Are China-Russia Military Ties?

Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine has raised concerns about the deep military ties shared between China and Russia. This ChinaPower feature analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of China-Russia military relations, focusing on arms sales and joint military exercises.

China’s Strategic Approach to the Solomon Islands: A Conversation with Rory Medcalf

In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Professor Rory Medcalf joins us to discuss China’s strategy in the Solomon Islands and the Southwest Pacific. Professor Medcalf explains that the Southwest Pacific, for much of its history, has not been a zone of major power competition and is important because it stands geographically between Australia and the rest of the Indo-Pacific and the US. The Solomon Islands is one of multiple locations in the region that China has expressed military interest in. He also argues that China’s objectives in the region could distort the interests and priorities of governments and societies and could change the region’s balance of power. Lastly, Professor Medcalf recommends that the Australian government and its partners build and maintain a new level of engagement (through both governance and civil society) in the region in order to provide alternatives to China’s influence.

Assessing China’s Growing Air Incursions into Taiwan’s ADIZ: A Conversation with Kenneth W. Allen, Gerald C. Brown, and Thomas J. Shattuck

In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, we are joined by Mr. Kenneth W. Allen, Mr. Gerald C. Brown, and Mr. Thomas J. Shattuck to discuss China’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) flight incursions into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). They first define the PLA’s incursions as a tactic for China to undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty and explain how such actions impact China and Taiwan’s policy goals. They reveal that the PLA launches these incursions to serve as punishment and intimidation when it is dissatisfied with Taiwan’s policies or engagement with the international community. Additionally, they note that these sorties are far from replicating the amount of air power or coordination that China would need to launch an invasion of Taiwan. However, they also point out that it is likely future PLA incursions will grow in sophistication as China sees the importance of air superiority in the Ukraine conflict. Lastly, they assess that there is no evidence so far that China is taking advantage of current US and European attention on the Ukraine crisis to significantly increase military pressure on Taiwan.

Artificial Intelligence and the People’s Liberation Army: A Conversation with Ryan Fedasiuk

In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Mr. Ryan Fedasiuk joins us to discuss the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) efforts to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Mr. Fedasiuk explains the findings of his new report, which analyzes critical AI defense industry suppliers to the PLA and the implications for China’s ability to compete with the US on AI defense technology. Mr. Fedasiuk says AI technology will be central to the PLA’s goal of becoming a “world-class” military force and for preparing the PLA for “intelligentized” warfare. In addition, Mr. Fedasiuk argues that through AI technology, the PLA has the potential to compensate for areas where it has historically been vulnerable, such as undersea warfare. He also discusses PLA’s procurement of different AI technologies, including intelligent autonomous vehicles. Lastly, he explains that only a small portion of identified AI suppliers to the PLA are subject to US export controls or sanctions regimes, and he analyzes the corresponding policy implications for the United States.