A key result of the 20th Party Congress was the reappointment of Xi Jinping as chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the selection of new CMC members. Some have argued that the new military brass indicates a greater inclination by Xi to use force against Taiwan, but the evidence does not support this view. The new CMC is consistent with the recent past in terms of its internal structure; few of the new members whom Xi has chosen have deep operational expertise on Taiwan, and his new CMC is even less “joint” than the last one in terms of service representation and joint command skills. Rather than designed to lead a war, the new CMC will be charged with pursuing the PLA’s overall modernization, which includes becoming better prepared for future contingencies. The group of CMC advisors could also play a key role in deterring Xi from any temptation to use force if they can speak truth to power.
Read the rest at the China Leadership Monitor →
Joel Wuthnow is a senior research fellow in the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at the National Defense University and an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University. He is the lead editor of Crossing the Strait: China’s Military Prepares for War with Taiwan (NDU Press, 2022). The views expressed are the authors own and do not reflect those of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.