lørdag 17. februar 2024

For China’s Military, 2024 Is the Year of Discipline

Corruption and high-level upheaval defined 2023 for the PLA, and will continue to shape the coming year. This merits a closer look at the PLA’s disciplinary practices.

On January 6, an article in Bloomberg made sensational claims about China’s nuclear force. Per U.S. intelligence, the article said that China’s recent removals of several high-ranking military figures, including People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force Commander Li Yuchao, Political Commissar Xu Zhongbo, and Defense Minister Li Shangfu, happened after the discovery of significant problems with the country’s nuclear arsenal. Specifically, it claimed, many of the missile silos in western China had non-functioning lids, and some missiles were “filled with water instead of fuel.”

Some were quick to raise questions around that intelligence. China’s one liquid-fueled nuclear missile, the DF-5, is not kept fueled because the fuel is highly corrosive. The claim of dramatic holes in China’s nuclear arsenal contradicts other U.S. assessments of Chinese nuclear capabilities and military developments.

However, Bloomberg’s was not the only explanation of the high-ranking removals. Some analysts argued that the goal of the moves was to strengthen China’s nuclear triad of sea-based, air-based, and land-based delivery systems; the new commander and commissar come from the PLA Navy and Air Force, respectively. Others have argued that it suggests a crisis of confidence on the part of President Xi Jinping, and that he is prioritizing officials with personal loyalty above all else.