26 May outlining the country’s military strategy and defence priorities. Needless to say, there is a noticeable shift in emphasis towards a more assertive military posture, likely reflecting factors such as the country’s rising economic power and geo-political interests, including the South China Sea Islands dispute.
According to the paper, the PLA Army (PLAA) “will continue to reorient from theatre defence to trans-theatre mobility” and “will elevate its capabilities for precise, multi-dimensional, trans-theatre, multi-functional and sustainable operations.” In order to do this, the PLAA must overcome its deficiencies in logistical capabilities, insufficient strategic airlift capabilities, and limited numbers of special-mission aircraft. The PLAA will also continue investment in infrastructure across the country to allow rapid deployment of troops to remote areas of tension such as Tibet and Xinjiang. The PLA has suffered from several weaknesses in 2014, with news reports suggesting that it is afflicted by outdated command and control structures, outdated equipment, and rampant corruption.
The PLA Navy (PLAN) has reiterated its focus on transforming into a blue-water force. The White Paper includes this shift from being an offshore defence (green water navy) to including more “open seas protection”. PLAN intends to build a multi-functional and efficient marine combat force structure around this.
The Zhuhai air show has also offered a good demonstration of the increase in UAV development in China. This possibly aligns with the White Paper’s mention of increased reconnaissance capabilities. Reports from as early as September 2013 by the Japanese MoD on Chinese airspace incursions have been suggesting that China may already be employing UAVs on reconnaissance missions over the East China Sea.
The paper also reflects heightened global recognition of the critical importance of cyber and informational elements for national defence capabilities. The government will fast-track the development of a “cyber force” along with associated cyber defence and situational awareness capabilities, while the Armed Forces will “speed up to upgrade weaponry and equipment, and work to develop a weaponry and equipment system which can effectively respond to informationised warfare and help fulfil the missions and tasks.”
The need to meet the requirements of ‘informationised’ operations is highlighted for all branches of the PLA, along with the People’s Armed Police Force (PAPF). The PAPF is stated to continue to develop its existing functions, but also “will enhance its capabilities for performing diversified tasks cantering on guard duty and contingency response in informationised conditions.” convening of the ruling cabinet on May 14.