04 April 2011

Wendell Minnick, Defense News: “China’s New White Paper Hints at Joint Ops”

Wendell Minnick, China’s New White Paper Hints at Joint Ops,” Defense News, 4 April 2011.

TAIPEI — China’s air force and navy may be emerging from the shadow of the People’s Liberation Army, according to the latest version of China’s biennial defense white paper.

Released March 31 by China’s Information Office of the State Council, the paper calls the PLA “first among equals” among China’s military services. That appears to be a first for China’s publicly released papers, which had generally described the PLA as dominant over the People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), said Andrew Erickson, a China defense analyst at the U.S. Naval War College. This suggests growing clout for the Air Force and Navy, “although they have a long way to go to fully realize a more equal institutional status in practice,” Erickson said. …

The paper also says the military is putting more emphasis on what the Pentagon calls military operations other than war (MOOTW). For example, the PLAN has sent eight task forces to the Gulf of Aden to run counterpiracy patrols. Other potential missions include humanitarian operations and disaster relief.

“This is in accordance with the four New Historic Missions with which President Hu Jintao has charged the PLA,” Erickson said.

Announced in 2004, those four missions are: 

■ Consolidate the ruling status of the Communist Party. 

■ Help ensure China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and domestic security in order to continue national development. 

■ Safeguard China’s expanding national interests. 

■ Help maintain world peace.

… Erickson said that although “no nation is truly altruistic in its behavior, China deserves credit for such contributions as they are broadly beneficial.” …