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Civil-Military Relations in China: Assessing the PLA’s Role in Elite Politics August 1, 2010 — This study reviews the last 20 years of academic literature on the role of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Chinese elite politics. It examines the PLA’s willingness to support the continued rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and to obey directives from top party leaders, the PLA’s influence on the selection of China’s top civilian leaders, and the PLA’s ability to shape the domestic political environment. Over the last two decades the discussion of these three issues has largely been shaped by five trends identified in the literature: increasing PLA professionalism, bifurcation of civil and military elites, a reduced PLA role in political institutions, reduced emphasis on political work within the PLA, and increased military budgets. Together, these trends are largely responsible for the markedly reduced role of the PLA in Chinese elite politics. MORE

Assessing Chinese Military Transparency June 1, 2010 — The United States and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region have expressed concerns about China’s expanding military capabilities and called on Beijing to increase transparency on military issues. Chinese officials and military officers argue that Chinese transparency has increased over time and that weaker countries should not be expected to meet U.S. standards of transparency. Lack of an objective method for assessing military transparency has made it difficult to assess these Chinese claims and has inhibited productive dialogues about transparency. MORE

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