Created: 10/1/1980

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Defense Modernization in China



Defense Modernization in China

ailable as ofugust I

DcfcnM Modernization inChinaH

defense moderni7.itionwo-decade effort

improving ihe People'- Liberation Army (PLA) and the defense indu_irics. is offood start but hat faro. The effort arises fromOtcd apprehension over Soviet military capabilities and from the leadership's desire to "move China into (he front rank of nations" by thet will be successful only if ihr nanon cntovs prolonged political stability.retains access to foreign capital and technology. avoids costly foreign military campaigns,o lorwarii in saciR-c. education, and industry.

China's prospects for military modernization are influenced by strengths and weaknesses in its political, economic, and technical bases. The country suffers from serious shortages of trainedeficiencies in key technologies and defense indusiries. and inadequate foreign exchange The principal faciors favoring success of the modernization drive include the leadership's stability and dedication to modeion and the willingness of foreign governments to provide technical and financial assistance ^

The det'enseprogram ha_ twodiMinct1'^ Itffiiffll'lWOTH 'alS investing in new tooling jnd tccnnoiogy. Low-cosi improvement- include such measures as providing realistic combat training, encouraging younger leadership at all echelons, promoting officers on the basis of merit, and reducing military involvement in local political and economic matters. Upgrading the defense industries will involve training more engineers, technicians, and design specialists and modernizing plant layout and management. In some cases, China must arrange technology licensing agreements and purchase new equipment |

A key factor inrofessional military force is the PLA's emphasis on realistic combai training. This effort is designed to get more out of (he weaponry and equipment now on hand and to prepare troops andfor new equipment in the. The (raining program encourages competition between units and individuals and presents awards forperformance. PLA officer, and soldiers are receiving more and better 'technical education and practical experience. |

7 the defense industriesengthy process of reorganizing plants, retraining workers, and assimilating foreign (echnology (hatwill provide the PLA with modern weapons and equipment. China


Con nuts



Impetus for Defense Modernization Strengths and Weaknesses of ihe Forces Problems and Prospects for Defense Modernization Restraintsodernization Human Financial

Materials and Elccironies

Milnar> Industry


Asset* io

Leadership Continuity and Cohesion

Availability of Foreign Assistance

The PLA's Adilude^oward Modernisation

Indigenous Weapons Development Program

Modermration Program Will Work


Reorganization ol Industry' and Assimilation of Technology

The PLA of the Future

ilitary Irading Companies in

tuimatcs for Selected Major Equipment (Midyear)- 15

Chinese consislenilv dc&CTibe modernization of Ihe PLArocess of gradual force improvement, based upon self-reliance, that will require many years to accomplish. In China the term "forceimplies making fundamental institutional changes in the PLA and the military industrial base, instilling new thought patterns and skills in PLA commanders and troop*,new weapons and equipment.|

China can achieve its goal of significantly modernizing iu defense forces by the0 only if:

It remains politically suble.

It receives sufficient foreign capital and technology.

It avoids military attack upon its industrial base in Manchuriaarge-scale war with Vietnam.

It succeeds in higher priority efforts to modernize agriculture, industry, and science and technology.

The genesis of the presentdrive was Premier Zhou EnUi'-fj^injrfjjDii/iaram set

forthhou proposed to modernize agriculture and industry and to "move China into the front rank of nations" by thehis program provided the core of what later became the "Four Modernizations."

|The Spcysignaled Chinas willingness to seek foreignthai would fill military needs. I

The death of Zhou Enlai in6eries of political upheavals that led to the second ouster of Deng Xiaoping and the subsequent reign of the Gang ofhe Gang reversed or slowed many of the military programs |

The death of Chairman Mao Zedong inowever, ended the Gang's activities, and the four were arrested inew leadership centered around Hua Guofeng and Ye Jianying began to take shape in^

The new leaders resumed the interrupted military modernization driveispatched numerous delegations to Europe and Japan to study foreigntechnology, and began to reorganize selectedplants. The leadership also accelerated the drive for military professionalism and more realistic training begun iwo years earlier. In7 ihe PLAew doctrine of "People's War Under Modernnd Deng Xiaoping againto

modernization emergedn issuehen China made its first inquiries about theTOL ground attack aircraft and resumedfor the transfer of Spey turbofaneng Xiaoping, rehabilitated from his Cultural Revolution disgrace,rominent role in promoting military modernization. |

The watershed year for defense modernization was


rehabilitation of former Chief of Staff andadvocate Lo Ruiqing, and the signing of an agree-

Beijing regards the groundbsolutelyorgini'ivicim.tck. and ihcir modernization is receiving strong attention. Documentti.ounter arm-rand are CMCCnjratjng rcwunrs ono nuintank, increased numbers ot antitankte-


ew'concern- arc theblcradios and iheheavyehicles As ihefilled.

aiieni-Qi.turn .oimr*ovemcnl <" ndiriillrr. pTcCiTTTinPH-ipin.-n.roader ranec of infantry weapons. 1

ancs the servicel'y pcriorniin- iv.e Aircks advanced avionics, air-lo-air missiles, am) electronic coiintcrrrc.isure equipment. Moreover, it is the most difficult service lo modernize because needed technologies,reensive.u, mimim

(Until recently, China's most advanced jel engine was thai in the


ina also hopes

eventually to build helicopters, wide-body transport aircraft, and improved combat aircraft.ijH

.natality of Cnincse engineersesign and build turbine aircraft engine, with performance better than thai of older. Soviet-designed models spurred Ihe Spcy engine negotiations and the continuing exchanges with Western aircraft manufacturer.

onic deficiencies but couldii.pv-Tur.-hop, or defcrdmeizable force of cbesel attackservesirst line of defense against approaching hostile fleets. This is backed upmall but growing force of major surface combatants, numerous missile and torpedo boats, and finally naval shore defense sites.> is deficient in airnu.ubm-rinc warfare, but iKesg apply mainly to open-ocean open.!tons conlinenial shelf anangc o: land-based aircraith an air arm of some (too aircraft. ihe Knvy cart" provide near-shore air cover to the lleet. maritime surveillance, and supporting attacks. However, the Navy cannot perform major amphibious opci ation.

poning lanks asaa tilts.

alloys arc imported from thehe Chinese do possess large supplies of aluminum ore and produce enough aluminum to meel militaryimilar abundance of titanium ore will permit China to meet demand for this metal when sufficient refininghas been built. China will have toajor effort, however, in Advanced mciaimri

Most Chinese-produced radars, sonars, andsystems are technically deficient becauselectronics sector lacks cwcntialtechnologies to move advanced components from tiie laboratory into product ion Chinanwi range of electronic equipment and components, and although experimental items arc sometimes near Western standards. Ihe electronics industry cannot mass-produce these Hems. J

developmentevlar-like' fiber used to produce lightweight, high-strength components for aircraft and space vehicles. This material can be used in relatively small quantities to manufacture missile casings,components, and parts for shoulder-bunched antitank and air defense weapons. |

Military Industry. Despite excess plant capacity that resulted irofnlhc large building program9riLch China's defense ir cannot yet support the moderni/ati

' Chin*')o lessen dependence on foreign tourer* of tied it noted in an oriicle on lani production in the0 ittoe ol Libt'tHlv" Aimt Pkionat "China's aucccufuI develorirneai ofte and Mructural tied to replace otriovt lines ol chromc-niekei iiccl from abroad has been an important raninbuiian and hoi resulted in ihe (ranting of fiitt-Oast awards in national sc*ence and


' KevlarS-developed arid patented eoiyamidc fiber wed in place ol fibcrgUu or enmpotne material!.

[Outmodedor equipment of local manufactureesser problem. Though such equipment may be less efficient than comparable Western or Japanese equipment, it generally is adequate for producing parts andneeded for weapons.!

Slill. despite extensive reoroanidation. China's maior effort in ict engine devcloprrentpcred bv :cii::ics. To improve their testing ca-ilics. the Chinese are actively seeking advanced wind tunnels and computers for engine testing and component research. |

Institutional. Deficiencies in ihe People's Liberation Vim i'-mI1 consume another major constraint to military modcrnizim-m. The forces arc not well or-ganized. tr;u

iodem logistics organization calls into question the PLA's ability to obtain spare parts when needed or to maintain and repair advanced weapon systems

Size ret

gain from this program atasicthe doctrine and strategies ofetter understanding Soviet forces as well. |

Indigenous Weapons Development Program

Kor all their weaknesses. China's miliary industries it.rrmK represent ia: moreero base for future prog res'. Oespitc the disruptions of the (ircai Leap Forward, ihe cutoff of Soviet imi. ,tnd the Cultural Revolution. China succeeded in developing nuclear

vc addedumber ol conventional

copies otj aagger antitank rocket-scattered antitank mi

weapons since I rot the ground forces, theyo-mm multiple rocket launcher.

iiicd rr.isb'ire".

rangetinders and night-vision devices, and limited nujjil

siie. The Navy has received Chit

iSmescunvcilcfl an air-to-air missile thatw deployedumber of Air Force units. These achievements suggest that some development and production of new weapons and equipment will take place well before completion of the defense industry reorganization program, gaj

phasizes ii'^i'i proici'-iri.tiivin .ir.ii belter training, ana ine track lor ihe Qclense industries stresses meihudnii. reorganizationcquisition ofresent the key to military rru tier rural ion lies

The first step toward modernizing ihe PLA was the decision made following Lin Biao's fall1 to remove the Army from civilian mailers and direct its attention toward national defense Professionalismajor point of disagreement between the Leftists and the groupof modcrnizcrs around Zhou Enlai The Leftists saw ihe PLA as an ideological tool forthe correct political line throughout the country. .Asa result of Cultural Revolution violence, the PLA hadreatly increased responsibility for internal security Collapse of civil authority in many areas led the PLA into widespread involvement in civil government, factories, railroads, and communes. Under former Defense Minister Lin Biao. manywere promoted solely on the basis of political credemialsor persona) loyalty. By the, the very concepi of "professionalism" was looked upon wiih suspicion by civilian Party members and career PLA officers alike. mM

Ho* the Modernization Program Will Work

Chinese realize that military modernizationimprovement of both the PLA and the defense industries that suppon it. China's industry cannot produce modern weapons and equipment in quantity, und the PLA is ill prepared to use ana support new armament The leadership has thereforeual-track program: the track for the forces em-

* As appliedhins. "pcoftssMnallsm" con nolo separation of ihe fcfCra from local politic, admintiir-iion. and internal iccuriiv and IM proirwrudnor luiinmcflt of individuals on tbtbtui at merit rtihcr than personal or political rclationsbip*


The new emphasis upon quality ol trainingey aspect of the military modernization program.between units and individuals is nowwith awards for outstanding performance. The military school system, largely shut down during the Cultural Revolution, has been reopened.)

ir eater attention is also being givenecl meal cdTcation for PLA officer* and possibly forsoldiers |

Kerr pani ration of Industry and Assimilation of Technology

After several false starts prior to the fall of the (Jang of Four, China beganrogram to reorganize industry and to import technology andeffect intended eventually to broadly transform the defense industry. Reorganization will permit theto make better use of existing plants andand in some cases will prepare the way forof foreign technology. ii foreign technologies pertaining 'jM^iMIHl ii'craft production, military electronics, advanccc metallurgy, and shipbuilding, and it intends to assimilate and improve on foreign

To justify this important policyby the Gang ofmodcrnizcrtquote Mao Zedong. Lenin, and even Karl Marx ai lavormg ihe importation ol" foreign technology Th^ leadership, however, carclullv recognizes ane)rewards domestic inventiveness and publicizes



hie. Licensing

vrrenrntcchroiogv.v. iheepresentslicy of importing technology as "nuking foreign things serve China.

Rumors and reports of China's interest in equipment purchases and technology-transfer agreements have excited unwarranted hopes among WesternThe Chinese did sign0 million Spcy engine agreement in5 after four years of negotiations.


wever. no further contract^een signed The Chinese probably will eventually consummate several mayor weapons technology licensing agreements, but only after exhaustive study and careful preparation. j

Technology purchases offer the advantages oforeign assistance in the form of equipment and prototypes, materials, blueprints, and specialized industrial training,ventual independence from foreign suppliers Coproduction arrangements may even provide Western management expertise, on-site technical rirprcsenutives. and Western design and production technologypartnership" basis. The (vantages, however, include high and sometimes

but may enable China to improve radars, sonars,warfare eauipmcnt. and militaryBeijing is purchasing wide-body aircraft for use by the Civil Aviation Administration, but such aircraft can be quickly converted to military transport use. I

PLA of the Future

Although Chinas defense modernization is still in an early siage and undoubtedly faces severe tests, the program is offood start. Many aspects of theas developing militaryalready bearing fruit, andof technicians and the acquisition of technicalwell under way. If China remains poliiically stable andUy assimilates foreign techno.oey, it can achieve andteady pace of military modernization. Tot the neur term, ihe PIill continue to emphasize better classroom instruction and will conduct field training that involves regimental and divisional units and combined arms. Meanwhile, the defense industries will acquire the tools,and technology needed to provide improved weapons and equipment.ombination of improved PLA training and increased defense output probably will begin to accelerate improvements in- I

tary capabilities.


Commanders will become more fami tactical doctrine and strategy

Over the next five years Bcinng "'II emphasize iw-cost measures designedt more out of ci-wii? forces and equipmeni ami introduceew new weapons miu the inventory:

Despite notable gainsbe PLA mil still suffci

from serious material deficiencies resulting from

weaknesses in military industry:

Problems in the aviation industry will continue to hamper improvements in the Air Force, though amultirole fighters with twin Spey engines may enter the force

support will be ham-

pcred by shortaEes of vehicles and by limitedfor repair and maintenance.

fech noiccr.scs and ccproduction arrangements inlectronics ana aircraft industry probably "ill be concluded in thes and beginelp China resolve maior problems in military produc-

using Japanese technicalwill begin to improve tactical mobility.lAa^aM

arked improvements in force capabilities pruoaMy win occur ii the stclense industries become able to meetequirements for weapons andhmphasis on antitank and air defense weaponry will continue, and the numbers of these weapons in the PLA inventory will increase substantially. Mobility

tion. Agreement appears likely lor Chinoe coproilui-lionol the Dougiasircrait. the Lockheed Jctstar. and the Aerospatiale Twin Dauphin

Appendix A:

Role of Military Trading in Modernization

Chinese haveumber ofl;acjuire and trie

e> andc orders HI" arms

'-t r-

iNORINCO's latest effort has been to otter Chinese-produced tanks, artillery. SAMs. and other -capons to earn foreign exchange for ihe defense modernization drive.

Cklam Saiiomat Aero- Technology Import and ExportTI EC.the Third Ministry- (Aviation) as its parent and has taken charge of several key negotiations with US aircraft and engine manufacturers that had beenby MACHIMPEX. The firm may conclude coproduction deals for wide-body aircraft, helicopters, and jet i

China Shipbuilding Industrial Corporation. CSIC appeared inand has held talks wiih Japanese and Furopean firms regarding modernization of Chinese shipyards. The Corporation is headed by the Minuter of the Sixth Ministrye know little of ill technical interests, but CSIC representatives have

tempted to buy ASW detection equipment andand have studied advanced steel forging lecb-"ology aj

China Precision Machinery Import and Export Cor. poratton. CPMIECchartered in0 for the purpose of studying Western military electronicsapplicable to flight controls. Recentsuggests that CPMIEC is subordinate to the Eighth Ministry, which wasat leastccording to Xinhua. CPMIEC will seek precision navigation instruments for aircraft, spacecraft, and ships, and advancedand optical product- We believe that

Hell Industrial Corporation. GWIC wassometime8 and serves as an extension

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