Date of Graduation

Spring 2011


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Robert Joseph


China, People's Liberation Army, military modernization, China's rise, Taiwan, United States

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


Since the 1990's, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has made a stunning transformation from a primitive force to a modern, advanced military. China continues to relentlessly focus on modernizing the PLA's force structure and strategic capabilities. The PLA's increasing military strength and capabilities are becoming more and more of a concern for China's neighbors in the region as well as the United States. China's leaders adamantly proclaim that the country's rapid military modernization is consistent with the China's "peaceful rise,” but the sheer scope and nature of China's military modernization will give the country's leaders the means to become more aggressive in the future if they so choose. This will have serious implications for U.S. security policy and regional stability. Thus, it is critical to possess a better understanding of China's motivations and intentions regarding its robust military modernization. This thesis explores the various motivations and elements of the PLA's vigorous military modernization. It seeks to provide some in-depth insight into the specific areas of China's growing military power and increasing strategic capabilities. Furthermore, it demonstrates how the PLA's increasing strength and capabilities could shift the military balance in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific thereby threatening U.S. interests and regional stability. This thesis finds that the United States should continue to monitor China's military modernization closely and cautiously as China's true intent remains unknown.


© Jessica Waine Miller

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