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Shaping China's Security Environment: The Role of the People's Liberation Army

Recorded on October 17, 2006

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

Books will be provided for all attendees.

For two decades after the People's Republic of China was established, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) had a central role in shaping China's security and foreign policy. Indeed, the PLA was also a major actor in domestic policy. The new leaders that took over China in 1949 all came from the military or Communist Party cadre who fought the Nationalists from 1927 through the Anti-Japanese War and then fought the final battles of the civil war. At local, provincial and national levels, the Party, the Army and the government were almost synonymous. The PLA's influence in national policy reduced in subsequent decades, however. The numbers of military personnel in the National People's Congress and the leading bodies of the Communist Party today are far lower than they were in the first few decades of the PRC's existence. Some 50 of the leading scholars and thinkers on the PLA gathered to examine the implications of these observations at the Army War College in Carlisle, PA, last year. This volume, produced from studies at that gathering, is an attempt to characterize the way that the PLA shapes, and is used by the government to shape, China's security environment. The military is clearly not as central an actor as it was in the past. The editors and the authors attempted in this volume to characterize the extent to which the PLA shapes the domestic, regional or global security environment to meet China's interests.

Chapter authors are: Ellis Joffe, Susan Puska, Paul Godwin, John Tkacik, Frank Miller, Robert Sutter, Srikanth Kondapalli, Andrew Scobell and Larry M. Wortzel, with a foreword by Amb. James Lilley.