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PLA Reform in 2017: Likely Directions and Implications for Taiwan

By Joel Wuthnow | Op-Ed | Global Taiwan Brief | March 08, 2017

This op-ed appeared in Vol. 2, Issue 10 of the Global Taiwan Brief on March 8, 2017.

In 2016, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began its most ambitious and far-reaching cycle of reforms in the past 70 years. The key operational goal was to improve the PLA’s ability to carry out joint operations such as blockades, island landing operations, and joint firepower attacks (involving strikes launched from land-, air-, and sea-based platforms). The first tranche of the reforms, announced last year, took a step in this direction through several high-level structural changes, most notably by creating a permanent joint command and control system. Commanders of five new regionally-aligned theater commands will able to develop and deploy force packages from army, naval, air force, and conventional missile forces—a capability that proved elusive under the former Military Region system.

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The views expressed in this essay are the author’s own and do not reflect the official policy or position of NDU, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.