In the past decade China’s growing military capability has attracted a great deal of attention, but details about the current and likely near-future state of China’s military power have been in short supply. While it is true that China is modernizing its forces and increasing defense spending, the prospective improvements in overall military capability need to be set against the very low-technology starting point of China’s armed forces. The article begins by looking at recent trends and likely future developments in China’s nuclear and conventional forces. It then discusses potential military courses of action by China towards Taiwan, now and in the future. According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the SIPRI Yearbook 1999, the size of the Chinese nuclear arsenal is about 400 warheads. The Bulletin estimates that 20 nuclear-armed missiles are deployed in the intercontinental role, and another 230 nuclear weapons on deployed (or can be deployed) on aircraft, missiles, and submarines with regional capabilities. The 150 remaining nuclear warheads are believed to be reserved for “tactical” uses (short-range missiles, low yield aircraft-dropped bombs, and possibly artillery shells or demolition munitions).1 Nuclear weapons in China are under the control of the Central Military Commission, which is headed by the President. Other members of the commission are generals from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), who may also serve on the Politburo of the Communist Party

FACEBOOK GROUP www.facebook.com ALSO SEE www.facebook.com AMD ALSO SEE www.facebook.com The People’s Liberation Army (PLA; simplified Chinese: 中国人民解放军; traditional Chinese: 中國人民解放軍; pinyin: Zhōngguó Rénmín Jiěfàngjūn) is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People’s Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as “PLA Day” — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The People’s Liberation Army’s insignia consists of a roundel with a red star bearing the Chinese characters for “Eight One”, referring to August 1 (Chinese: 八一), the date of the 1927 Nanchang Uprising. The PLA is the world’s largest military force, with approximately 3 million members, and has the world’s largest (active) standing army, with approximately 2.25 million members. The PLA comprises five main service branches, consisting of the PLA Ground Force, PLA Navy (PLAN), PLA Air Force (PLAAF), Second Artillery Corps (strategic missile force), and the PLA Reserve Force. Military service is compulsory, in theory, for all men who attain the age of 18; women may register for duty in the medical, veterinary, and other technical services at ages as young as 14. However, a draft in China has never been enforced due to large numbers of volunteers from China’s huge population. Demobilized servicemen are carried in a ready reserve, which is reinforced by a standby reserve of veterans and by

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