How will China use its increasing military capabilities in the future? China faces a complicated security environment with a wide range of internal and external threats. Rapidly expanding international interests are creating demands for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to conduct new missions ranging from protecting Chinese shipping from Somali pirates to evacuating citizens from Libya. The most recent Chinese defense white paper states that the armed forces must "make serious preparations to cope with the most complex and difficult scenarios... so as to ensure proper responses... at any time and under any circumstances."

Based on a conference co-sponsored by Taiwan's Council of Advanced Policy Studies, RAND Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and National Defense University, The People's Liberation Army and Contingency Planning in China brings together leading experts from the United States and Taiwan to examine how the PLA prepares for a range of domestic, border, and maritime contingencies. The book includes chapters on how the PLA, domestic security forces, and the civilian government conduct contingency planning and how military commanders can draw upon national level military assets and mobilize civilian resources to execute their plans. Substantive chapters assess PLA planning for potential domestic contingencies such as suppressing internal unrest, border contingencies involving India, Myanmar, North Korea, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, and maritime contingencies in both the near and the far seas. Authors also examine PLA preparations and performance in disaster relief, counterpiracy, and noncombatant evacuation operations.

Improving PLA capabilities are giving Chinese leaders new options to respond to domestic and international crises, but the PLA still has significant limitations in projecting and sustaining power, especially in contested environments.

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