Forces: April 14, 2005

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Chinas armed forces are undergoing a massive transformation. All of it seems directed at giving China the ability to take Taiwan by forces. In the last five years, China has reduced the size of its armed forces by over half a million troops, and retired thousands of older aircraft, tanks and ships. At the same time, a force of over 300 modern fighters has been purchased from Russia, or built under license in China (with a lot of parts from Russia.) A similar program is underway with the navy, but with more new warships incorporating Russian technology. This includes the construction of many more amphibious ships. Chinas shipbuilding industry has been thriving for over a decade, and those resources were available for the recent spurt of amphibious shipbuilding.

While the armed forces still rely on a lot of conscripts, several hundred thousand officers and NCOs have undergone training to make them more professional, and better able to deal with new technology, and better trained troops. Billions of dollars has been spent on training exercises, including amphibious training for over a dozen combat divisions. 

Much money has been spent on new communications equipment, and China has organized a cyberwar capability. The communications improvements are tied into the civilian economy, giving China more ability to mobilize the civilian economy for wartime support. This improves Chinas ability to invade Taiwan, because there has been enormous growth in Chinas coastal and high seas shipping industries. These ships can be mobilized for military use, if China has the planning and communications to make it happen. Increasingly, they do.

Beyond the potential for an invasion of Taiwan, Chinas investments in its defense industries is also directed at the development of next generation weapons. Chinas dependence on Russian military technology is seen as only temporary. In the next decade, more and more of the new weapons will be original Chinese designs. China plans to be a military superpower, and is on its way to achieving that goal in one or two decades.

 


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