Cover: Dare to Face the "Strong Enemy 强敌"

Dare to Face the "Strong Enemy 强敌"

How Xi Jinping Has Made the PLA Talk About the United States

Published in: Sinocism website (2021)

Posted on May 18, 2021

by Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Xi Jinping's efforts to improve the Chinese military's performance in a future war, if the CCP's political objectives cannot be achieved through other means, has been a staple of his broader military modernization program. When Xi came to power in 2012, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) was well along on its hardware modernization but clearly had internal doubts over its battlefield performance, so Xi has called for the PLA to become a force that can "fight and win" (能打胜仗). Perhaps the most pressing problem was that it was racked with corruption so badly that a sitting general and close friend of Xi, General Liu Yuan, reportedly said, "Only our own corruption can destroy us and cause our armed forces to be defeated without fighting." Another problem, however, was that its soldiers haven't fought a war in over 40 years and weren't psychologically ready for the strains of modern war.

This report is part of the RAND external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.