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By Joel Wuthnow and Phillip C. Saunders
| China Strategic Perspectives 10 | March 21, 2017
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has embarked on its most wide-ranging and ambitious
restructuring since 1949, including major changes to most of its key organizations.
The restructuring will also reduce the size of the PLA by 300,000 soldiers, cutting the
ground forces and increasing the size of the navy and air force.
The restructuring reflects the desire to strengthen PLA joint operations capabilities—on
land, at sea, in the air, and in the space and cyber domains.
The reforms could result in a more adept joint warfighting force, though the PLA will continue
to face a number of key hurdles to effective joint operations.
Several potential actions would indicate that the PLA is overcoming obstacles to a stronger
joint operations capability.
The reforms are also intended to increase Chairman Xi Jinping’s control over the PLA and
to reinvigorate Chinese Communist Party (CCP) organs within the military.
Xi Jinping’s ability to push through the reforms indicates that he has more authority over
the PLA than his recent predecessors.
The restructuring could create new opportunities for U.S.-China military contacts.
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