China’s strides towards the creation of a formidable military posture, backed by strong economic growth, demonstrate a resolve to assert its claim towards becoming an Asian superpower. By opting to showcase its military prowess to the world, the Chinese armed forces have signalled that they have come a long way from what was essentially a rustic and bucolic ‘Red Army’ that waged a ‘People’s War’ six decades ago. The modernisation programme undertaken by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) can be interpreted as the foundation of deterrence to attain the objectives of military strategy. Today, the Chinese armed forces are preparing to fight small-scale, high-intensity, regional combat and military operations in the future. At the same time, China seeks to deter or prevent their outbreak decisively through the possession of an adequate deterrent force and the determination to use that force. Robust military modernisation of the PLA represents a contrasting facet to the tall claims made by China, in so far as its ‘peaceful rise’ campaign is concerned. It is difficult to reconcile these rather opposing, while equally reinforcing, ideas. As a consequence, the entire debate on the impending “China threat” (Zhongguo weixie) theory has progressively gained significance within the Asian continent and beyond.
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