Assessing Chinese Military Transparency

by Isaac Kardon, Contract Researcher to Dr. Phillip Saunders, Distinguished Senior Fellow & Director of the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs

Chinese Flags in windTransparency – or rather, lack of it – is among the key points of interest for U.S. officials when dealing with China. In the military domain, the subject is of still greater interest due to the rapid growth and modernization of the Chinese military over the past two decades and the uncertainty surrounding People’s Liberation Army (PLA) intentions for these vastly improved capabilities. National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies’ Dr. Phil Saunders and Mike Kiselycznyk directly engage this critical issue in a recently published study, “Assessing Chinese Military Transparency.”

The authors present an objective method for assessing China’s military transparency, attempting to build on the PLA’s modest efforts to date in this vein. Targeting defense white papers, the study proposes a venue and a technique for Chinese and other regional militaries to evaluate their comparative degrees of transparency across a wide range of salient areas – including military doctrine, threat assessments and defense policy.

Last week, a piece in China’s state-run Global Times explicitly responded to the study by concurring with the authors’ conclusion that improving Chinese military transparency was an important objective not only for international audiences, but for the Chinese people themselves.

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