10 July 2024

Can China’s PLA fight a modern war?


China’s failures to reform the army may lie deep in the ancient military mindset that doesn’t fit modern requirements.

Can the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fight? And in case, how would they fight? They had the human waves in Korea and they advised the Vietnamese on guerrilla warfare but how would they perform in a modern war?

Reportedly[i], General He Weidong, the second-ranked vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, denounced “fake combat capabilities” in the military, which experts say is likely related to weapons procurement – the focus of present corruption investigations.

However, foreign experts like Kenneth Allen believe personnel is the actual weak link of the PLA. His key findings are the following:
  • “The PLA has continued to make major adjustments to its enlisted force since 1999. These include creating a 30-year enlisted force, recruiting college students and graduates as two-year conscripts, shifting from a one-cycle to a two-cycle per year conscription system in 2021, and directly recruiting personnel with special technical skills as NCOs.
  • The turnover of conscripts each year affects the annual training cycle, such that units are missing a significant number of personnel for months at a time.

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