This article seeks to elucidate the recent changes to the Chinese military by examining the new characteristics of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its newly adopted approaches for modernization between 2003 and 2008. It includes diachronic discussions to explore various social and political factors for the changes, domestic and international constraints on the implementation of military modernization, and the outcomes of these endeavors. The main findings indicate that the Chinese military has changed its main feature as two important transitions have emerged: first, the PLA has been transformed from a manpower intensive army to a technology oriented force; and second, from a national security army to an internationally operated force. Consequently, the high command begins to consider the PLA as a part of the global military cooperation.

Author Bio(s)

Xiaobing Li, professor, chair of the Department of History and Geography, and director of Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma, is the author, editor, and co-author of the books: Civil Liberties in China (2010), Voices from the Vietnam War (2009), New Historiography in the Contemporary West (2008), A History of the Modern Chinese Army (2007), Taiwan in the 21st Century (2006), Voices from the Korean War (2005), Chinese Immigrants in the U.S. (2004), Mao’s General Remember Korea (2002), Social Transition in China (2001), China and the United States (2000), Asia’s Crisis and New Paradigm (1999), and Re-Interpreting U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations (1998). He is the editor of American Review of China Studies and the Journal of Western Pacific. Email: bli@uco.edu


Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Chinese military, Mao Zedong, military modernization, People’s Liberation Army (PLA)

Publication Date






To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.