In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, we are joined by David Logan and Phil Saunders, who’ve recently co-authored a new report titled Discerning the Drivers of China’s Nuclear Force Development: Models, Indicators, and Data. They lay out the six models developed in the report and explain which models are the most compelling for explaining China’s behavior. Dr. Logan dives into the expansion in size, structure, and capabilities of China’s nuclear stockpile in the last 10 years but highlights the fact that there has been no official announcement on China’s reasoning for this build-up. In the context of this expansion, Dr. Saunders points out that China is showing signs that its nuclear strategy could be shifting, and he notes that the prospects of strategic arms control have become more complicated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. David Finkelstein joins us to discuss the PLA’s new joint doctrine and how it will impact China’s military modernization. Dr. Finkelstein describes his research process behind his new report and predicts the major new components of the doctrine. He argues that the concept of an integrated joint force represents a major doctrinal development within the PLA and is a response to a paradigm shift in how warfighting is conducted in an information-centric era. Lastly, Dr. Finkelstein analyzes the possible internal and external challenges the PLA will face when implementing the new doctrine, and how this timeline aligns with China’s military modernization goals for 2027, 2035, and 2049.
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 points out that, despite Covid-19, Chinese defense spending increased and PLA modernization continued unabated. Similarly, he argues that 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 success 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.