The Chinese Military and the "Taiwan Issue": How China Assesses Its Security Environment

Vincent Wei-cheng Wang, University of Richmond


This paper sheds light on the strategic outlook of the world's largest yet understudied armed force - China's People's Liberation Army (PLA). With its sheer size, rapidly increasing capabilities, and uncertain intentions, the PLA will be the vital pillar for a militarily powerful China, and how China's military assess the country's security environment affects the viability of the country's stated development strategy of "peaceful rise." This paper argues that the so-called "Taiwan issue" importantly shapes China's foreign policy and military modernization. Although the PLA is a party army entrusted to defend against threats to the Chinese Communist Party s rule (including territorial integrity), and publications and interviews generally indicate a pessimistic assessment inspired by realpolitik, there are diverse internal voices - as a result of coexistence of multiple military doctrines - on the tactics, rather than the general goals, regarding PLA's modernization and its role in a Taiwan contingency. Despite the PLA's opacity and strategic concealment, this paper seeks to provide a very modest contribution.