Since the early 1980s, a prominent and consistent conclusion drawn from research on China’s defense-industrial complex has been that China’s defense-production capabilities are rife with weaknesses and limitations. This study argues for an alternative approach: From the vantage point of 2005, it is time to shift the focus of current research to the gradual improvements in and the future potential of China’s defense-industrial complex. The study found that China’s defense sectors are designing and producing a wide range of increasingly advanced weapons that, in the short term, are relevant to a possible conflict over Taiwan but also to China’s long-term military presence in Asia. Part of a larger RAND Project AIR FORCE study on Chinese military modernization, this study examines the current and future capabilities of China’s defense industry.
The goals of this study are to
- Assess recent trends in China’s 25-year-long effort to reform its defense industry
- Analyze the individual strengths and weaknesses of four specific defense-industrial sectors: missile, aircraft, shipbuilding, and information technology
- Explain variations in performance among different defense-industry sectors, with a focus on differences in institutional arrangements, incentives, and exposure to market forces
- Evaluate the prospects for China’s defense industry and its ability to contribute to military modernization. The information presented in this report is based on previous RAND Project AIR FORCE work, and on primary and secondary English and Chinese sources.
Table of Contents
China’s Missile Industry
China’s Shipbuilding Industry
China’s Military-Aviation Industry
“The Digital Triangle”: A New Defense-Industrial Paradigm?
Conclusions: Future Prospects of China’s Defense Industry
The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.
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