Military Transparency in China? One Step Forward, One Step Back….

“Chinese Military Transparency: Evaluating the 2010 Defense White Paper.”
Strategic Perspectives #5
By Phillip C. Saunders, PhD and Ross Rustici, MA

 

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, was recently in China and toured a number of Chinese military facilities.  During his July 10-14 trip, he visited the Second Artillery Corps headquarters, and an air force base in Shandong, where he sat in a  Su-27 Fighter.

Chairman Mullen in the cockpit of a Chinese Fighter Jet

Admiral Mullen in the cockpit of a PLA Air Force SU-27 fighter jet.

As part of his tour, Mullen also visited a submarine base where he inspected a Yuan class diesel submarine.

Admiral Mullen on a PLA Navy Yuan class diesel submarine.

Admiral Mullen inspects a PLA Navy Yuan class diesel submarine.

Chinese officials, academics, and commentators have cited the People’s Liberation Army’s willingness to show off these bases and weapons systems as an example of China’s move towards greater transparency about its military capabilities and modernization efforts.  ( http://bit.ly/pymAyy and http://on.wsj.com/pMdwo3 )

However, a new INSS Strategic Forum “Chinese Military Transparency: Evaluating the 2010 Defense White Paper” by Phillip Saunders and Ross Rustici evaluates China’s 2010 defense white paper and finds it a step backward in transparency compared to previous editions.  China’s 2010 white paper receives lower transparency ratings than the 2008 paper and provides less information than defense white papers of other major Asia-Pacific powers.

For the original INSS publication explaining the transparency methodology, click here.

For updated charts that compare China’s 2010 white paper to other Asia-Pacific white papers, click here.

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