USA vs. China Ways (6.3)

David W Wang
4 min readJul 31, 2021

What’s the Trend of Chinese Military Development?

Four things to watch on the Chinese military trends in the 21th century. First, it will be a military under a political party or the nation? Second, will PLA fight a war in Taiwan, or South China Sea or China-India border? Third, will China fight the so called “Unrestricted Warfare” like via the cyber space, biological warfare, or other unconventional means against its rivals? Finally if China may change its military strategy from the current “active defense” to something more outgoing and aggressive?

As mentioned in the last post, China copied a lot from the Soviet military's forces or called Red Army in its establishment. For example, the Chinese communist army first called itself “ Workers and Peasants Revolutionary Army”, but soon changed name to “Red Army” as well.

The Soviet Red Army had the tradition of installing a political commissioner officer at the army’s regiment level. The Chinese Red Army made it go further and installed a political commissioner at the army’s company level. In this way, the military has been under tight control by the communist party, or called “The Party commands the gun”.

Since the communists eventually seized power in 1949 in mainland China, there has been a debate, sometimes weak and sometimes strong, inside the China power structure and circle about whether the military forces should be “nationalized”, meaning the military should become a tool for the whole country, not being controlled just by the Party.

This of course makes a very sensitive and even risky topic in China, because the Party firmly believes it relies on the military for its power. What happened in Tiananmen Square in the summer of 1989 could make a strong proof of it, when the Chinese army was called in to quell down the massive pretest of pro-democratic students and citizens. Without the military under direct control, the Party is afraid it will lose its ground.

Meanwhile a real modern country with modern political economic, military and cultural systems must have its military nationalized. The logic is simple and clear — the military should serve the interest of the people, and the nation is bigger than a political party and better represents the people. Hence the…

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David W Wang
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Based in Washington DC metro, a senior analyst and columnist on US-China relations and political cultures. Best-seller Publication: Decoding Dragon’s Mindset