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China’s Military Modernization: Building for Regional and Global Reach

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By Richard D. Fisher, Jr.
Published by Praeger Security International, September 2008

China's rise to global economic and strategic eminence, with the potential for achieving pre-eminence in the greater-Asian region, is one of the defining characteristics of the post-Cold War period. For students contemplating a broad range of business, social science, journalist or military science curricula, it is critical to possess a basic understanding of the military-strategic basis and trajectory of a Rising China. This work is intended to be attractive to a range of courses that require a volume that can provide background and outline current and future issues concerning China's rise in strategic-military influence. The next decade may witness China's assertion of military or strategic pressure on Japan, the Korean Peninsula, India, the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, Central Asia, or even on behalf of future allies in Africa and Latin America. While conflict is not a foregone conclusion, as indicated by China's increasing participation in many benign international organizations, it is a fact that China's leadership will pursue its interests as it sees them, which may not always coincide with those of the United States, its friends, and allies. Until now, no single volume existed that provides an authoritative, comprehensive, and concise description of China's evolving geo-strategy or of how China is transforming its military to carry out this strategy. Fisher examines how China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) remains critical to the existence of the Chinese Communist government and looks at China's political and military actions designed to protect its expanded strategic interests in both the Asia-Pacific and Central to Near-Asian regions. Using open sources, including over a decade of unique interview sources, Fisher documents China’s efforts to build a larger nuclear force that may soon be protected by missile defenses, modern high technology systems for space, air and naval forces, and how China is now beginning to assemble naval, air and ground forces for future “power projection” missions. His work also examines how the United States and other governments simultaneously seek greater "engagement" with China on strategic concerns, while also "hedging" against its rising power. Although China faces both internal and external constraints on its "rise" to global eminence, it cannot be denied that China's government is pursuing a far-reaching strategic agenda.

About the Author
RICHARD D. FISHER JR. is a Senior Fellow, International Assessment and Strategy Center (June 2004 to present) and the Director of the Center’s Project on Asian Security and Democracy. He was formerly an Asian Security Fellow at the Center for Security Policy, editor of the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief, a Senior Fellow with the Republican Policy Committee of the House of Representatives and Director of the Asian Studies Center of the Heritage Foundation. His articles and reports have appeared in numerous national newspapers and journals.


"Fisher has produced the best comprehensive study of China’s military modernization in a decade."

Dr. Larry M. Wortzel (Col., USA ret.), Director of the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, former Chairman of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission and a former U.S. military attache in Beijing

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"A must read for serious students of China's military and future strategic objectives."

James "Ace" Lyons, U.S. Navy (ret.), former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations, and deputy Chief of Naval Operations

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"A useful assessment for those concerned with Taiwan's security and with maintaining America's leadership role in Asia."

Dr. Michael M. Tsai, former Minister of National Defense of Taiwan, Vice Minister of National Defense, Deputy Secretary of the Taiwan National Security Council and founder of the Taiwan Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies

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"China's ongoing military build-up is of great concern to Japan.  Rick Fisher's very useful analysis reveals much of what China seeks to conceal."

Ota Fumio, Vice Admiral, Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force (ret.), former Director, Japanese Defense Intelligence Headquarters

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“…a must read for all those who are seriously assessing China’s military modernization overdrive which is definitely offensive.”

Bhaskar Roy, foreign policy analyst with a special interest in China, former intelligence analyst with the Indian government, with service in Indian Embassy in Washington, and a regular contributor and consultant to the South Asia Analysis Group.


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