China's Strategic View: The Role of the People's Liberation Army

  • April 01, 1996
  • Dr June Teufel-Dreyer

In April 1996, the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute held its Seventh Annual Strategy Conference. This year's theme was, "China Into the 21st Century: Strategic Partner and . . . or Peer Competitor." Dr. June Tuefel Dreyer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami, on a panel examining "China's Strategic View," argued that the armed forces of China, although large, simply are not capable today of militarily endorsing the kind of truculent actions recently undertaken in the Taiwan Straits. The qualitative advantage possessed by the sum total of Asian nations with interests at stake, not to mention those of the United States, exceeds that of the People's Liberation Army. Professor Dreyer provides a good overview of the current and projected strengths of the PLA's land, sea and air forces. Pressure is growing throughout the Pacific and around the world for China to attenuate hard line positions of the past. Dr. Dreyer argues that the PRC's actions may be eliciting equal and opposite reactions from states that feel their interests are being threatened. On the other hand, domestic pressures may make it difficult for the Chinese leadership to back away from some of the positions they have taken. The course China pursues into the 21st century will directly bear on the strategic interests of the United States in a significant way--and vice-versa.