China's Sweeping Military Reforms: Implications for Australia

Bates Gill, Adam Ni

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Formally launched at the end of December 2015, the ongoing reforms of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are the most sweeping and potentially transformative in its history. Since early 2016, these reforms have had immediate and far-reaching effects on the PLA’s organisation, force posture, command and control structures, and internal politics. Looking ahead and over the longer-term, the successful implementation of these reforms will help build the PLA into a far more capable fighting force.1 As far as China’s top political and military leaders are concerned, these reforms are critical in transforming the PLA from a bloated, untested and corrupt military with low levels of professionalism to a force increasingly capable of conducting joint operations, fighting short, intensive and technologically sophisticated conflicts, and doing so farther from Chinese shores. This reform effort has critically important implications for Australia, particularly in relation to China’s development of strategic capabilities to deter the United States and its allies and partners in both nuclear and nonnuclear realms. This brief study details the organisational changes afoot for the PLA, the aims of these major reforms, and analyses how—if successful—they could affect the strategy of the United States and its allies in the Indo-Pacific region.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)33-46
    JournalSecurity Challenges
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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