Military Modernization of the People's Liberation Army and the Prospect For Conflict With Taiwan

Date of Graduation

Spring 1995


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


The modernization of the People's Liberation Army is but one facet of China's recent quest for power and respect. The Chinese have reappraised the world balance of power and have fundamentally altered their military strategy and doctrine from that of People's War to what is currently labeled as Local and Limited War. The tenets of People's War--mobilization, luring the enemy deep into China, and protraction of the conflict--have been replaced by an emphasis on standing forces able to deploy rapidly with high degrees of mobility, firepower, and sustainability. The focus of military modernization within the military services has emphasized these factors as well as enhancing the power projection capabilities of the navy and air force. Chinese nuclear forces are also being continuously modernized, particularly in the areas of performance, mobility, and survivability. This will give China an increasingly effective deterrent against those who would try to interfere with its regional ambitions. China is exercising its new military power in an attempt to settle the reunification issue with Taiwan. Should this exercise be successful, other irredentist claims will soon be the focus of the resurgent PLA. The prospect for conflict in the Taiwan Straits is an opportunity to assess the PLA's progress thus far. Long believed to be in a permanent state of technological inferiority, a careful study shows that the PLA has narrowed or eliminated most gaps in military weaponry with regard to the armed forces of Taiwan. This appraisal also reconfirms the critical role of U.S. forces in the Pacific. In the final analysis, only the United States can provide a sufficient deterrent to stop a hegemonic surge by China.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Kyle Christopher Wyckoff