09 November 2020

The Michael Chase Bookshelf: Policy-Relevant Research on China’s Military Development, Deterrence & Cross-Strait Security

Professor Michael Chase, my former Naval War College colleague, has both extensive U.S. government experience and a set of publications that are must-reads for scholars, policy-makers, and all others following PRC military progress and power. It has been a great honor and pleasure to collaborate with Dr. Chase on multiple research and writing projects over the past decade and counting. If you are a student at SAIS, you should definitely do one thing that I haven’t had the opportunity to do myself and take one of Prof. Chase’s classes on Chinese military development! Dr. Chase’s publication record is simply too extensive to list everything here, but I have endeavored to offer information and links concerning a representative set of his excellent works. Enjoy, and please circulate widely in Washington and beyond!

Andrew S. Erickson, “The Michael Chase Bookshelf: Policy-Relevant Research on China’s Military Development, Deterrence & Cross-Strait Security,” China Analysis from Original Sources 以第一手资料研究中国, 9 November 2020.

Dr. Michael S. Chase is a senior political scientist at RAND and an adjunct professor in the China Studies Department at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C.

A specialist in China and Asia-Pacific security issues, he was previously an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, Rhode Island, where he served as director of the strategic deterrence group in the Warfare Analysis and Research Department and taught in the Strategy and Policy Department. Prior to joining the faculty at NWC, he was a research analyst at Defense Group Inc. and an associate international policy analyst at RAND. He is the author of the book Taiwan’s Security Policy and numerous chapters and articles on China and Asia-Pacific security issues. His work has appeared in journals such as Asia PolicyAsian SecurityChina BriefSurvival, and the Journal of Strategic Studies.

His current research focuses on Chinese military modernization, China’s nuclear policy and strategy and nuclear force modernization, Taiwan’s defense policy, and Asia-Pacific security issues. Chase holds a Ph.D. in international affairs and M.A. in China Studies from SAIS and a B.A. in politics from Brandeis University. In addition, he studied Chinese at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in Nanjing, China.

Research Focus

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)


Michael S. Chase, “Averting a Cross-Strait Crisis,” Contingency Planning Memorandum No. 34, Council on Foreign Relations, 26 February 2019.

The risk of a serious crisis between China and Taiwan is growing. Cross-strait relations have chilled in recent years as a result of the unwillingness of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen to embrace the so-called 1992 Consensus—an understanding that was the basis for a warmer relationship between Beijing and Taipei under Tsai’s predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT). According to the KMT, the 1992 Consensus holds that both mainland China and Taiwan belong to “one China” but with distinct interpretations. Beijing’s stance, however, is that the 1992 Consensus means there is “one China,” which is the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and that Taiwan is part of the PRC. China responded to Tsai’s refusal to endorse its approach to the 1992 Consensus by implementing a multifaceted pressure campaign to punish and coerce Taiwan into being more compliant. Beijing’s tactics have included suspending official and semiofficial mechanisms for cross-strait communications, reducing the number of mainland tourists allowed to visit Taiwan, pressuring countries that recognize Taiwan to sever diplomatic relations with the island, and conducting military exercises and information operations designed to intimidate Taiwan.

This pressure campaign could intensify in the next twelve to eighteen months—particularly in the lead-up to and immediately following Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election—to the extent that it triggers a new cross-strait crisis. Although the United States maintains a “one China” policy in accordance with the three U.S.-China joint communiques and withdrew from its 1954 defense treaty with Taiwan after establishing diplomatic relations with the PRC in 1979, such a crisis would clearly affect U.S. national security interests.

Taiwan and the United States maintain an unofficial relationship, but the island is an important U.S. economic and security partner that shares democratic values. The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act holds that U.S. policy is “to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.” Given its long-standing commitments to the security of Taiwan and its broader economic, diplomatic, and security interests in the Indo-Pacific, the United States would almost certainly become embroiled in a new cross-strait crisis. The United States should be attentive, therefore, to the potential direction of events and take steps to help avert and, if necessary, mitigate a new cross-strait confrontation. … … …


Michael S. Chase, “A Rising China’s Challenge to Taiwan,” in Ashley J. Tellis, Alison Szalwinski, and Michael Wills, ed., in Ashley J. Tellis, Alison Szalwinski, and Michael Wills, eds., Strategic Asia 2019: China’s Expanding Strategic Ambitions (Seattle, WA: National Bureau of Asia Research, 2019).

This chapter examines the evolution of Beijing’s approach to Taiwan as China transitions to a major-power role in the international system and concludes by assessing the implications of broader trends associated with China’s growing power and influence for the cross-strait relationship.


Taiwan is central to China’s core interests not only due to Beijing’s emphasis on sovereignty and territorial integrity and the island’s salience in Chinese domestic politics but also because of the implications it holds for a rising China’s broader strategic aims. Xi Jinping has clearly linked the goal of unification with Taiwan to his larger pursuit of “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” Since Taiwan’s 2016 election, which resulted in Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) becoming president and the DPP gaining control of the island’s legislature, China has carried out an escalating, multidimensional pressure campaign that includes diplomatic isolation, military intimidation, economic coercion, and influence operations. At the same time, it has offered a set of enhanced incentives, the “31 measures,” in an effort to entice key groups in Taiwan, with a focus on young people and the business community.


  • China’s intensified pressure campaign presents serious challenges, but it also risks backfiring by further alienating people in Taiwan, many of whom are increasingly skeptical of the benefits of a closer cross-strait relationship.
  • If Beijing wants to maintain a stable and constructive cross-strait relationship, it will need to adopt a more creative and flexible approach to dealing with Taiwan.
  • The U.S. will need to think more broadly about the island’s security needs, including helping increase its resilience in the face of Chinese pressure on a variety of fronts.


Derek GrossmanMichael S. ChaseGerard FininWallace GregsonJeffrey W. HornungLogan MaJordan R. Reimer, and Alice Shih, America’s Pacific Island Allies: The Freely Associated States and Chinese Influence (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2019).

The Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau, which make up the Freely Associated States — as well as the broader region of Oceania — have been the subject of increasing Chinese influence and expressions of both hard and soft power. The authors of this report examine the implications of these activities for the United States, particularly in terms of its defense and foreign policy interests. They also look at the actions of other regional and international powers in the Freely Associated States, and examine how those actions complement U.S. leadership.

Research Questions

  1. How and why are the Freely Associated States important to U.S. defense and foreign policy interests?
  2. What is the extent of Chinese influence in the Freely Associated States?
  3. How are other regional and international powers responding to Chinese influence in the region?
  4. How can the United States maintain its influence in the Freely Associated States?

Key Findings

U.S. funding to the Freely Associated States is key to strengthening engagement and preventing Chinese influence.

  • The termination of grant-based economic assistance to the Freely Associated States could have a large impact on Chinese influence.
  • The Compacts of Free Association are a powerful tool that deny influence by actors other than the United States in Oceania.
  • The Pacific region is viewed by Chinese policymakers as a logical next step for the country’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • The conflict between Taiwan and China is played out at a micro level in the Freely Associated States, where two out of three countries recognize Taiwan.
  • The expiration of current funding streams from the United States to the Freely Associated States should serve as a catalyst for the opening of a productive new chapter in how the United States and its allies and partners engage with these countries.


  • The United States, its allies, and its partners should consider seeking ways to maintain appropriate levels of funding to the Freely Associated States.
  • The United States should also strengthen engagement in the Freely Associated States.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One: Introduction
  • Chapter Two: The Freely Associated States and Compacts of Free Association
  • Chapter Three: China’s Interests and Influence in Oceania and the Freely Associated States
  • Chapter Four: Activities and Responses of Other Countries in Oceania and the Freely Associated States
  • Chapter Five: Implications


Edmund J. BurkeTimothy R. HeathJeffrey W. HornungLogan MaLyle J. Morris, and Michael S. Chase, China’s Military Activities in the East China Sea: Implications for Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2018).

A long-standing rivalry between China and Japan has intensified in recent years, owing in part to growing parity between the two Asian great powers. Although the competition involves many issues and spans political, economic, and security domains, the dispute over the Senkaku Islands remains a focal point. The authors examine how China has stepped up its surface and air activities near Japan, in particular near the Senkaku Islands. They survey the patterns in Chinese vessel and air activity and consider Japan’s responses to date. The authors conclude that resource constraints and limited inventories of fighter aircraft pose formidable obstacles to the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force’s ability to match Chinese air activity. Given China’s quantitative advantage in fighter aircraft, Japan’s current approach may not be sustainable. The authors offer recommendations for the United States and Japan to manage emerging challenges.

Research Questions

  1. What are the origins of the intensifying rivalry between China and Japan, the two traditional great powers of Asia?
  2. How has this rivalry exacerbated deepening perceptions of threat on both sides?
  3. How has Japan responded to the increasingly intrusive presence of Chinese aircraft near Japan?
  4. What are the long-term implications of China’s increased surface and air presence near Japan?

Key Findings

China and Japan have experienced a dramatic increase in nonlethal encounters between military aircraft near Japan

  • Chinese military aircraft have flown with increasing frequency near the Senkaku Islands and the Miyako Strait, which Chinese strategists regard as a critical passageway through the first island chain.
  • The higher rate of activity has spurred Japan to adjust deployments and increase its acquisitions to keep pace with the growing Chinese presence and defend what Japan views as its airspace.

Military improvements are Japan’s most significant effort to push back on China’s increased air activities

  • The Japanese government has prioritized a defense posture more focused on the region and the procurement of assets meant to strengthen the capabilities of the Japanese Self-Defense Force in island defense.
  • It has also increased the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) budget and established a JCG patrol unit tasked specifically with patrolling the Senkaku Islands.

The stress of constantly responding to the Chinese air activities has added pressure to an already overstretched Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF)

  • The increased operational tempo exacerbates maintenance issues, as the frequency with which aircraft require inspections and maintenance is increasing.
  • Although the real-world experience that JASDF pilots are gaining is useful, the increased incursions into Japanese airspace are also negatively impacting pilot training, as pilots are unable to devote this time to the study of other missions.


  • U.S. and Japanese officials should exchange views on ways that Japan could respond quickly and effectively to any surge scenarios involving sudden, large numbers of Chinese military aircraft flight operations near Japan.
  • The allies should include the issue of Japanese reprioritization of assets to the southwestern region in their discussions of U.S. force realignment.
  • U.S. officials can share experiences of how scrambling protocols evolved during the Cold War to meet the changing situation.
  • The United States should work with Japan to train in how to rely on existing and planned ground-based air defenses as a suitable and appropriate counter to some Chinese air incursions.
  • Japan might also want to consider cross-domain and bilateral responses with other nations in its efforts to counter Chinese intransigence.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One: Introduction
  • Chapter Two: Strategic Context
  • Chapter Three: Chinese-Japanese Maritime Vessel Interactions
  • Chapter Four: Chinese-Japanese Military Aircraft Interactions
  • Chapter Five: Conclusion


Derek GrossmanNathan Beauchamp-MustafagaLogan Ma, and Michael S. Chase, China’s Long-Range Bomber Flights: Drivers and Implications (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2018).

This report examines the key drivers behind China’s strategic bomber flights throughout the Asia-Pacific region, assessing Chinese commentary on flights and leveraging a number of sources, including interviews in Taipei and Tokyo, to better understand and gauge regional reactions. The report recommends specific responses for consideration by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. policymakers, as well as allies and partners, offering an in-depth analysis of the key issues driving top Chinese leaders to move in the direction of conducting these overwater bomber flights.

Since March 2015, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has sent its strategic bomber on long-range overwater flights on at least 38 separate occasions to important areas throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Chinese leaders seek to achieve at least four key objectives with PLAAF bomber flights throughout the region: First, bombers enable Beijing to send a deterrence message or to signal resolve in the conventional military domain to defend its maritime territorial claims. Second, overwater flights significantly enhance realistic training for PLAAF operators. Third, successful bomber flights offer Chinese leaders the opportunity to play up their achievements for domestic consumption, highlighting progress toward the building of “world-class” military forces. And fourth, the increased operational tempo of PLAAF bomber flights around Taiwan appear to be designed, at least in part, to ratchet up pressure against Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, as she has refused to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus, also known as the One China Consensus, since taking office in May 2016.

Research Questions

  1. Where are these over water flights occurring? What data is available from public sources?
  2. What are the key issues driving top Chinese leaders to move in the direction of conducting overwater bomber flights in the Asia-Pacific region?
  3. Is China using these flights for deterrence signaling? If so, what deterrence signaling does China wish to convey, and what channels is China using to send these signals?
  4. What are the likely implications of China’s next-generation H-20 bomber?
  5. How are regional countries reacting to the flights? What can the United States do to reassure affected allies and partners?

Key Findings

Implications for the United States

  • Given the multiple benefits derived from long-range strategic bomber flights over the Asia-Pacific region, whether in the area of conventional strategic signaling, realistic training opportunities, coercion of Taiwan, or propaganda for domestic consumption, the United States should expect that Beijing will continue to pursue — and even ramp up — these activities for the foreseeable future.
  • Chinese president Xi Jinping’s intent is to modernize and professionalize the People’s Liberation Army into a “world-class” force that aligns with his vision of a stronger, “rejuvenated” China, and this virtually guarantees that the PLAAF will enjoy generous top leadership support in the coming years.
  • The U.S. Air Force and other decision-makers tasked with handling the U.S. response to the bomber flights should not expect to be able to dissuade Chinese leaders from continuing down this path.
  • China’s next-generation long-range strategic bomber, dubbed the H-20, is expected to enter service in the 2020s and will likely have the range to reliably threaten U.S. targets beyond the Second Island Chain, including Guam and Hawaii. Its likely nuclear capability could have implications for U.S. extended deterrence and for assurance of U.S. allies and partners in the region.
  • Going forward, the key objective for the United States and its allies and partners should be to determine how to mitigate any negative effects of Chinese bomber flights, which appear set to become an increasingly regular occurrence in the region.


  • The United States could work with allies and partners to devise a strategy for dealing with these flights. One effective means of discouraging increasingly provocative flights could be to conduct joint intercepts with Japan. Another would be to conduct and publicize joint air defense exercises with affected countries to reinforce extended deterrence and signal China that the United States and its allies will not be intimidated. Further improving the air defenses and training of U.S. bases in Asia — especially in Guam — might also be considered. The United States should also work with partners to plan ahead for potentially more provocative flights in the future.
  • Washington could consider increasing U.S. Air Force bomber flights in the region to respond to or even match People’s Liberation Army Air Force flights. Such flights would demonstrate U.S. commitment to allies and partners.
  • There should be increased awareness of PLAAF activities through greater foreign and U.S. government transparency.
  • The U.S. government can disclose more information on the strategic and political intentions of Chinese bomber flights over disputed territories and the consequences of such provocative actions, especially noting that military and political coercion of rival claimants violates international norms for resolving territorial disputes. Similarly, increasing U.S. information sharing with allies and partners in the region, publicly or privately, about Chinese bomber flights would serve to reassure allies and likely bolster support for the U.S. presence in the region.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One: Introduction
  • Chapter Two: Cataloging PLAAF Bomber Flights in the Asia-Pacific
  • Chapter Three: Drivers of Chinese Bomber Flights
  • Chapter Four: Regional Reactions to Chinese Bombers
  • Chapter Five: China Developing a Next-Generation Bomber
  • Chapter Six: Implications and Recommendations for the United States
  • Appendix A: A Full List of PLA H-6 Long-Range Bomber Flights over Water


Michael Chase and Oriana Skylar Mastro, “Long-Term Strategic Competition between the United States and China in Military Aviation,” in Tai Ming Cheung and Thomas G. Mahnken, eds., The Gathering Pacific Storm: Emerging U.S.-China Competition in Defense Technological and Industrial Development (Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2018): 111–37.

Given the bilateral tensions and importance of airpower to national defense, has long-term peacetime strategic competition between the United States and China in the military aviation sector emerged? Specifically, what is the degree to which each country is engaging in a cost imposing strategy to further their objectives at the other’s expense and how successful are attempts to influence each other’s decision-making calculus through such a competitive strategy?

The United States has enjoyed overwhelming military technological superiority in the post-Cold War era, but China has begun to chip away at this dominance. As distrust and strategic rivalry becomes more prominent in U.S.-China relations, this is helping to turn what had previously been parallel but separate military research and development efforts by both countries into a directly connected competition. This contest for leadership in defense technology and innovation promises to be a long-term and highly expensive endeavor for the United States and China

While there are some similarities between this emerging U.S.–China defense strategic competition and the twentieth-century Cold War, there are also significant differences. The U.S.–Soviet confrontation was primarily an ideological, geostrategic, and militarized rivalry between two countries and supporting alliances that were largely sealed from each other. This twenty-first century rivalry takes place against a backdrop of globalized interdependence, the blurring of military and civilian boundaries, and the growing prominence of geo-economic determinants.

U.S.-China military technological competition lies at the heart of the growing strategic contest between the United States and China. This is largely because this technological rivalry straddles the geostrategic and geo-economic domains covering drivers ranging from industrial policy and foreign direct investment to weapons development programs and threat assessments. Examining the nature of the U.S.-China defense technological competition requires a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the complex military, economic, innovation, and other drivers at play. Moreover, this technological race is still in the early stages of development and can be expected to grow larger, more complex, and more intense, so this book provides an invaluable

This is a pioneering examination of the burgeoning U.S.-China defense technological competition and provides perspectives not only from U.S. analysts but also from China and Russia. One of the major contributions of the book is the use of a competitive strategies framework that outlines some of the key considerations in the assessment of U.S.–China military technological competition. A rich and expansive discussion of this competition across a diverse range of domains, including air, sea, space, and emerging technologies, provides a comprehensive understanding of how complex and varied this contest is becoming, as well as its strategic and global implications.


Kevin L. PollpeterMichael S. Chase, and Eric HeginbothamThe Creation of the PLA Strategic Support Force and Its Implications for Chinese Military Space Operations RR2058 (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 10 November 2017).

This report explores the missions and organization of China’s Strategic Support Force, created in 2015 to develop and employ space capabilities, in particular launch and operation of satellites to provide C4ISR capabilities for joint operations.

Will Edwards, “Enhancing China’s Status as a Great Power,” interview with Jeffrey Engstrom and Michael ChaseThe Cipher Brief, 1 August 2017.

China is investing heavily in its military modernization program as it aims to extend its power in the region as well as globally. How will China’s growing ability to project power affect U.S. regional goals?

Derek GrossmanMichael S. Chase, and Logan Ma, “Taiwan’s 2017 Quadrennial Defense Review in Context,” Global Taiwan Brief, 14 June 2017.

Taiwan’s 2017 Quadrennial Defense Review is consistent with past reviews on defense strategy, reform of the military service system, and defense budget constraints. It also emphasizes the importance to President Tsai of Taiwan’s domestic defense industry and shows uncertainty about U.S. Asia policy.

John S. Davis IIBenjamin Adam BoudreauxJonathan William WelburnJair AguirreCordaye OgletreeGeoffrey McGovern, and Michael S. ChaseStateless Attribution: Toward International Accountability in Cyberspace RR-2081-MS (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2 June 2017).

This report reviews the state of cyber attribution and examines alternative options for producing standardized and transparent attribution that may overcome concerns about credibility.

Timothy M. BondsJoel B. PreddTimothy R. HeathMichael S. ChaseMichael JohnsonMichael LostumboJames BonomoMuharrem Mane, and Paul S. SteinbergWhat Role Can Land-Based, Multi-Domain Anti-Access/Area Denial Forces Play in Deterring or Defeating Aggression? RR-1820-A (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 22 May 2017).

This report examines the role that land-based, multi-domain anti-access/area denial forces can play in helping the U.S. and its allies and partners deter or defeat aggression in the western Pacific, European littoral areas, and the Persian Gulf.

Eric HeginbothamMichael S. ChaseJacob HeimBonny LinMark R. CozadLyle J. MorrisChristopher P. TwomeyForrest E. MorganMichael NixonCristina L. Garafola, and Samuel K. BerkowitzDomestic Factors Could Accelerate the Evolution of China’s Nuclear Posture RB-9956-AF (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 20 April 2017).

This brief discusses how domestic factors could influence China’s evolving nuclear deterrent.

Key Findings

Domestic drivers are likely to accelerate China’s nuclear modernization over the coming decade:

  1. Increased bureaucratic influence over nuclear force planning and policymaking
  2. Elevation of nuclear constituencies within the PLA
  3. Lack of organizational firewalls to prevent advances in conventional capability from influencing nuclear force structure.

Since its first nuclear test in October 1964, China has maintained a modest strategic force designed to achieve limited deterrence goals. It has maintained a no-first-use policy and the ability to impose some risk of a second strike to deter attack. China’s restrained posture has made it an outlier in the nuclear world. In recent years, however, new trends have turned China’s outlier status on its head: While the United States and Russia have reduced their nuclear inventories, China has increased its strategic missiles and warheads and dramatically improved the quality of its force (Figure 1). China appears to be moving from a modest strategy of minimum deterrence toward a more robust strategy of assured retaliation, although China itself has not used either label (and talks instead about its requirement for a “lean and effective” nuclear deterrent). Although China is unlikely to change formal policy, it is developing capabilities that may ultimately allow it to engage in limited nuclear warfighting.

RAND Project AIR FORCE analysis finds that, while the strategic relationship with the United States continues to be the primary driver of the shift in China’s nuclear policy, a range of international and domestic drivers is likely to accelerate this trend over the coming decade. This brief focuses on three internal factors that could influence China’s nuclear direction: (1) a gradual shift from direct political control of nuclear policy to involvement by more-bureaucratic actors, (2) an increase in the size and status of the nuclear constituency within the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and (3) the lack of organizational firewalls to prevent advances in conventional capability from influencing nuclear force structure and creating pressure for changes in policy. These factors are consistent with the unitary-actor, bureaucratic-politics, and bureaucratic-process models familiar to policy analysts, but they have not been applied systematically to the study of Chinese strategic forces. … … …

Eric HeginbothamMichael S. ChaseJacob HeimBonny LinMark R. CozadLyle J. MorrisChristopher P. TwomeyForrest E. MorganMichael NixonCristina L. Garafola, and Samuel K. BerkowitzChina’s Evolving Nuclear Deterrent: Major Drivers and Issues for the United States RR-1628-AF (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 15 March 2017).

This report analyzes international and domestic factors that will affect China’s approach to nuclear deterrence, how those drivers may evolve over the next 15 years, and what impact they are likely to have. China’s approach to nuclear deterrence has been broadly consistent since its first nuclear test in 1964. Key elements are its no-first-use policy and reliance on a small force of nuclear weapons capable of executing retaliatory strikes if China is attacked. China has recently accelerated nuclear force building and modernization, and both international and domestic factors are likely to drive faster modernization in the future. Chinese nuclear planners are concerned by strategic developments in the United States, especially the deployment of missile defenses. Within the region, Beijing is also an actor in complex multilateral security dynamics that now include several nuclear states, and the improving nuclear capabilities of China’s neighbors, especially India, are a growing concern for Beijing. Constituencies for nuclear weapons have gained in bureaucratic standing within the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). With few, if any, firewalls between China’s conventional and nuclear missile forces, new technologies developed for the former are already being applied to the latter, a trend that will almost certainly continue. Given these changes, China is likely to increase emphasis on nuclear deterrence, accelerate nuclear force modernization, and make adjustments (although not wholesale changes) to policy.

Michael S. ChaseCristina L. Garafola, and Nathan Beauchamp-MustafagaChinese Perceptions of and Responses to U.S. Conventional Military Power,” Asian Security (March 2017): 1-19.

Chinese analysts view the US military not only as a model for emulation but also as a serious threat given its strengths in high tech weapons and equipment, power projection, and unparalleled ability to conduct information-intensive joint combat operations. Yet they also see many of the capabilities the US military relies upon to execute these operations – most notably forward bases, space capabilities, and computer networks and information technology systems – as potentially vulnerable to disruption. Accordingly, China has developed capabilities designed to deter or counter US military intervention in areas close to China. This poses two interrelated challenges for the United States: maintaining its military advantage in an era of rapid technological change and preserving deterrence against growing Chinese ambitions in Asia.

Oriana Skylar Mastro and Michael Chase, “Long-Term Strategic Competition Between the United States and China in Military Aviation,” SITC Research Briefs, Series 9 (La Jolla, CA: University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, 28 February 2017).

This brief evaluates U.S. and Chinese military aviation through three factors that shed light on the degree and nature of strategic competition: resource allocations, targeted platform development, and airpower employment concepts.

The intensifying security competition between China and the United States in the Asia-Pacific region has manifested itself in a myriad of ways, including dangerous air encounters. Given the bilateral tensions and importance of airpower to national defense, has long-term strategic competition between the United States and China in the military aviation sector emerged? To answer this question, this brief evaluates U.S. and Chinese military aviation through three factors that shed light on the degree and nature of strategic competition: resource allocations, targeted platform development, and airpower employment concepts. While China has been competing with the United States for decades, China has only recently begun to drive U.S. decisions. Cost-imposing strategies may not favor the United States, so innovation and technological developments in military aviation should focus on how to thwart China’s ability to achieve its military objectives. … … …

Michael S. Chase and Jeffrey Engstrom,“China’s Military Reorganization Aims to Tighten Party Control and Strengthen the PLA’s Warfighting Capabilities,” ChinaFile, 29 August 2016.

Xi Jinping’s reforms could result in a leaner, more combat-effective PLA that presents a more potent challenge to China’s neighbors and to U.S. interests. But even successful reforms will not guarantee victory on the battlefield, and any hypothetical conflict involving the U.S. would carry tremendous risks.

Michael S. ChaseKenneth W. Allen, and Benjamin PurserOverview of People’s Liberation Army Air Force “Elite Pilots”  RR-1416-AF (Santa Monica, CA: RAND,24 August 2016).

This report draws on a wide variety of Chinese primary sources to provide an overview of how the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) selects and trains what it calls its elite fighter pilots.

Michael S. Chase and Cristina L. Garafola, “China’s Search for a ‘Strategic Air Force’,” Journal of Strategic Studies 39.1 (Fall 2016): 4-28.

Once dismissed by many outside observers, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has undergone an impressive transformation over the past two decades, emerging as one of the world’s premier air forces. As it continues to modernize, it is focused on becoming a ‘strategic air force.’ PLAAF strategists suggest this means it should play a decisive role in protecting Chinese national interests, field modern capabilities commensurate with China’s standing as a major power, and enjoy the institutional status befitting its role as a ‘strategic service,’ an important consideration given the historical dominance of the ground force in China’s military.

Derek Grossman and Michael S. Chase, “Xi’s Purge of the Military Prepares the Chinese Army for Confrontation,” Newsweek, 21 April 2016.

Xi Jinping is relying on an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign, echoing Mao Zedong’s dictum that “the party commands the gun,” and implementing a sweeping reorganization of the PLA to ensure his personal dominance over the military and to strengthen its ability to deter or win future wars.

Michael S. Chase and Arthur Chan, “China’s Evolving Strategic Deterrence Concepts and Capabilities,” The Washington Quarterly 39.1 (Spring 2016): 117-36.

Strategists often think of strategic deterrence as synonymous with nuclear deterrence, the top of the escalation ladder; China does not. In fact, China’s strategic deterrence concepts are evolving and expanding, along with strides in strategic weapons capabilities, reflecting Beijing’s increasing concerns about external security threats and a growing emphasis on protecting Chinese interests in space and cyberspace.

Michael S. Chase and Arthur ChanChina’s Evolving Approach to “Integrated Strategic Deterrence” RR-1366-TI (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 7 April 2016).

This report finds that China’s strategic-deterrence concepts are evolving in response to a changing assessment of its external security environment and a growing emphasis on protecting its emerging interests in space and cyberspace.

Michael S. ChaseCortez A. CooperKeith CraneLiisa EcolaScott W. HaroldTimothy R. HeathBonny LinLyle J. Morris, and Andrew ScobellChina, Inside and Out: A Collection of Essays on Foreign and Domestic Policy in the Xi Jinping Era CP-797 (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 20 October 2015).

This collection of essays explores some of the realities of China’s overriding philosophies. 

Michael S. Chase and Cristina Garafola, “China’s Search for a ‘Strategic Air Force’,” Jamestown China Brief 15.19 (2 October 2015).

Note: This piece is based on a longer article published in The Journal of Strategic Studies that is available for download here and will appear in the print version of the journal in early 2016.

On September 10, People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) spokesman Shen Jinke stated that some PLAAF systems displayed to the public during the “9-3” military parade, including the H-6K bomber, the KJ-500 airborne early warning and control plane, and the H-9 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system testified to the quickening pace of China’s drive to transform the PLAAF into a “strategic service” (战略性军种) (Liberation Daily, September 10). Once dismissed by many outside observers, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has undergone an impressive transformation over the past two decades, emerging as one of the world’s premier air forces. As it continues to modernize, it is focused on becoming a “strategic air force” (战略空军). PLAAF strategists suggest this means the air force should play a decisive role in protecting Chinese national interests, field modern capabilities commensurate with China’s standing as a major power and enjoy the institutional status befitting its role as a “strategic service,” an important consideration given the historical dominance of ground forces in China’s military.

Becoming a “Strategic Air Force” 

Through the 1990s, the PLAAF faced daunting obstacles on its path to becoming a more modern and operationally capable air force, including a relatively narrow set of missions and capabilities that lagged behind other regional air forces. By the late 1990s, however, tremendous changes were underway across the Chinese military. The reform of China’s defense industry and dramatic increases in defense spending enabled China to begin developing and deploying the hardware that PLA leaders viewed as essential to building a more modern and operationally capable military, including a more technologically advanced and powerful air force. The PLAAF’s doctrine and force employment concepts also evolved in line with a broader transformation of doctrine across the PLA that followed the issuance of new campaign guidance documents (战略方针) in 1999. Additionally, according to the China Air Force Encyclopedia, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, in a 1999 speech to commemorate the PLAAF’s 50th anniversary, called for the PLAAF to “prepare struggle to build a powerful, modernized air force that is simultaneously prepared for offensive and defensive operations” (攻防兼备).[2]In 2004, this idea was incorporated into the PLAAF’s first ever service-specific strategic concept, which called on it to “integrate air and space and be simultaneously prepared for offensive and defensive operations.”

Both this phrase and the concept of the PLAAF as a “strategic air force” have been endorsed in official state media as well as by Chinese senior leadership. During a visit to PLAAF Headquarters in April 2014, Chinese leader Xi Jinping emphasized the need to “accelerate the construction of a powerful people’s air force that integrates air and space and is simultaneously prepared for offensive and defensive operations, provides staunch support for the realization of the China dream and the dream of a strong military.” Xi also described the PLAAF as a “strategic service,” one that must be capable of playing a decisive role “in the overall situation of national security and military strategy” (Xinhua, April 14, 2014). Widely publicized in official Chinese media, Xi’s remarks underscored the growing importance that China attaches to the transformation of the PLAAF along “strategic” lines. Although the term “strategic air force” is not defined in authoritative Chinese military publications, a review of publications by a number of PLAAF officers and other Chinese analysts sheds light on what it means for the Chinese air force to realize this goal.[1] Based on these writings, a “strategic air force” has a clearly defined strategy and an accompanying set of missions that enable it to directly achieve important national security objectives. … … …

Michael S. Chase, “Xi in Command: Downsizing and Reorganizing the People’s Liberation Army,” Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, CSIS, 14 September 2015.

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently announced that China would reduce the number of troops in its army by 300,000. But that is only a first step in a more ambitious reform and reorganization plan.

Eric Heginbotham and Michael S. Chase, “China’s Military Modernization: Eric Heginbotham and Michael Chase in Conversation,” The RAND Blog, 14 September 2015.

Two RAND experts discuss their recent assessments of Chinese military modernization and its implications for U.S. interests in Asia.

Michael S. Chase, “China’s Military Parade Highlights Its New Strategic Capabilities,” U.S. News & World Report, 3 September 2015.

China’s elaborate military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II showcased some of the People’s Liberation Army’s newest high-tech weapons.

Michael S. Chase and Benjamin Purser, “China’s Airfield Construction at Fiery Cross Reef in Context: Catch-Up or Coercion?Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, CSIS, 11 August 2015.

Even if China really sees itself as undertaking legitimate activities to protect its rightful interests, it is not surprising that its rival claimants, as well as the United States and other countries in the region, see Beijing’s island building activities as efforts to improve China’s abilities to bully its neighbors.

James DobbinsRichard H. SolomonMichael S. ChaseRyan HenryF. Stephen LarrabeeRobert J. LempertAndrew LiepmanJeffrey MartiniDavid Ochmanek, and Howard J. ShatzChoices for America in a Turbulent World: Strategic Rethink
 RR-1114-RC (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 23 July 2015).

Exploring the elements of a national strategy for U.S. foreign policy, the book examines critical global, regional, and other policy issues and decisions likely to confront the next president and senior U.S. officials in 2017 and beyond.

Michael S. ChaseKristen GunnessLyle J. MorrisSamuel K. Berkowitz, and Benjamin PurserEmerging Trends in China’s Development of Unmanned Systems
 RR-990-OSD (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 12 March 2015).

RAND’s exploratory analysis of China’s development and use of unmanned systems focuses on maritime unmanned systems, the roles China sees for them, Chinese development of unmanned vehicles, and uses for such systems in the East and South China Seas.

Michael S. ChaseJeffrey EngstromTai Ming CheungKristen GunnessScott W. HaroldSusan Puska, and Samuel K. BerkowitzChina’s Incomplete Military Transformation: Assessing the Weaknesses of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 13 February 2015).

The PLA is keenly aware of its many weaknesses and is vigorously striving to correct them. Through extensive primary source analysis and independent analysis, this report seeks to answer a number of important questions regarding the state of China’s armed forces. What have been the overall scope and scale of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) modernization since the mid-1990s, and what is its likely trajectory through 2025? What are the missions Beijing has assigned to the PLA? What are the weaknesses in the PLA’s organization and human capital? What are the weaknesses in the PLA’s combat capabilities in the land, air, maritime, space, and electromagnetic domains? What are the weaknesses in China’s defense industry (research and development and production)? The authors found that the PLA is keenly aware of its many weaknesses and is vigorously striving to correct them. Chinese military publications recognize that this is a tall order. Indeed, the PLA leaders and official media frequently state that the force seeks to harness the capabilities of the information age to conduct complex joint operations, even though it is not yet fully mechanized or structured to command and control the campaigns it aspires to conduct. Although it is only natural to focus on the PLA’s growing capabilities, the authors found that understanding the PLA’s weaknesses—and its self-assessments of the shortcomings—is no less important. Doing so can help provide a sense of the PLA’s priorities for future modernization efforts, support U.S. military engagement with the PLA, and inform the development of strategies to deter or defeat Chinese coercion or use of force.

Timothy R. Heath and Michael S. Chase, “A Thaw in Asia,” U.S. News & World Report, 14 November 2014.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week raised hope for the near term that the leaders of both countries can ease tensions between Asia’s two largest economies.

Michael S. ChaseTimothy R. HeathEly Ratner, “Engagement and Assurance: Debating the U.S.-Chinese Relationship,” The National Interest, 5 November 2014.

The risks of strategic rivalry with China deserve serious attention. But the best way to avoid the destabilizing effects of military competition is sustained U.S. engagement with China and the region—precisely what U.S. policy has been seeking to achieve.

Andrew S. Erickson and Michael S. Chase, “China’s Strategic Rocket Force: Upgrading Hardware and Software (Part 2 of 2),” Jamestown China Brief 14.14 (17 July 2014).

Part One of this article covered the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Force’s (PLASAF) conventional arsenal and the “conventionalization of deterrence”—the creation of doctrines that rely on advanced non-nuclear weapons to deter U.S. and other international intervention in a regional conflict (read the first part in China Brief, Vol. 14, Issue 13). While PLASAF has made these changes, it has also upgraded its nuclear capabilities, including discussions of ways in which nuclear weapons can deter conventional attacks despite China’s No First Use policy. But for upgraded hardware to achieve its goals, it must be commanded and operated by higher caliber, better-prepared soldiers, a challenge that is increasingly important to this branch.

Andrew S. Erickson and Michael S. Chase, “China’s Strategic Rocket Force: Sharpening the Sword (Part 1 of 2),” Jamestown China Brief 14.13 (3 July 2014).

  • The Second Artillery has made significant progress, particularly in modernizing its hardware, but also operations and training.
  • Its main mission remains deterrence, especially toward U.S. intervention in a regional conflict.
  • This deterrence mission increasingly emphasizes conventional capabilities, but nuclear weapons have also been modernized to ensure their continued effectiveness.

On January 22, the website Chinese military newspaper PLA Daily published photos of a People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Force (PLASAF) unit engaged in field training with a DF-31 road-mobile ICBM launcher (China Military Online, January 22). The photos did not reveal a new capability (China began deploying road-mobile ICBMs more than seven years ago), nor were they likely intended as a warning to a particular state, although some regional media interpreted them as a threat (South China Morning Post, January 23; Chosun Ilbo, January 26). However, their publication highlights an important trend: increased confidence in the conventional and nuclear capabilities of China’s strategic missile force. As context and military missions change, PLASAF has remained relevant by developing growing conventional deterrence through demonstrating capability to prevail in a regional conflict and preventing U.S. intervention therein.

Andrew S. Erickson and Michael S. Chase, “China Goes Ballistic,” The National Interest 131 (May-June 2014): 58-64.

China is increasingly a force to be reckoned with, not only economically but also militarily. Its aggressive stance toward some of its neighbors, along with Asia’s growing economic importance and the need to assure U.S. allies that Washington will increase its attention to the region despite budgetary challenges and fractious domestic politics, prompted the Obama administration to announce a “rebalance” toward Asia. Now Beijing’s relations with Japan—which has been indulging in what China sees as alarming spasms of nationalism, including a recent visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Yasukuni shrine—have deteriorated to their lowest level in many years. In addition, China’s efforts to undermine Japan’s administrative control over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands are raising the possibility of a crisis that could draw in the United States by challenging the credibility of U.S. extended deterrence. To deter negative Chinese actions in this vital but volatile region while avoiding dangerous escalation, Washington must better understand the ultimate instrument of Chinese deterrence: the People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Force (PLASAF), which controls the country’s land-based nuclear and conventional ballistic missiles and its ground-launched land-attack cruise missiles.

Michael S. Chase, Stephanie Lieggi, Andrew S. Erickson, and Brian Lafferty, “China’s Nuclear Weapons Program and the Chinese Research, Development, and Acquisition System,” in Kevin Pollpeter, ed., Getting to Innovation: Assessing China’s Defense Research, Development, and Acquisition System 7.12 (La Jolla, CA: University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, January 2014), 81-85.

Historically, China’s nuclear program developed a significant level of indigenous innovation. Although the activities and processes within the nuclear weapons program may be difficult to reproduce in more typical defense acquisition programs, the case of the nuclear complex indicates that China’s RDA process is capable of overcoming major technical hurdles and deficiencies. When Beijing provides sufficient financial and human resources, affords well-trained scientists autonomy, and creates a system that facilitates cross-discipline cooperation, innovation and self-sufficiency are possible. Studying the nuclear weapons program is thus useful not only because of its importance in shaping China’s nuclear future, but also because it provides broader insights into trends in the development of China’s defense industries, some of which may be applicable to other high-priority programs.

Christopher T. Yeaw, Andrew S. Erickson, and Michael S. Chase, “The Future of Chinese Nuclear Policy and Strategy,” in Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes, eds., Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age: Power, Ambition, and the Ultimate Weapon (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2012), 53-80.

The development of China’s missile force has been among the most impressive and most closely watched aspects of Chinese military modernization over the past two decades. Beyond its growing and increasingly sophisticated arsenal of conventional missiles, China’s nuclear modernization is focused on improving the ability of its forces to survive an adversary’s first strike and making its nuclear deterrence posture more credible in a missile defense environment. At the theater level, the PRC maintains nuclear-armed, solid-propellant, road-mobile DF-21 (CSS-5) medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) as the cornerstone of its regional nuclear deterrence capability. As for its strategic nuclear capabilities, China still deploys a relatively small number of silo-based DF-5A (CSS-4 Mod 2) ICBMs, and Beijing is moving toward a more survivable posture based on solid-fueled, road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Indeed, both the DF-31 (CSS-10 Mod 1) and DF-31A (CSS-10 Mod 2) road-mobile ICBMs have been deployed to units within the Second Artillery Force during the past few years. The DF-31 (CSS-10 Mod 1) is capable of reaching targets throughout Europe and Asia as well as parts of the northwestern United States, while the longer-range DF-31A (CSS 10 Mod 2) is capable of targeting almost all of the continental United States. In addition, China may be developing a new road-mobile ICBM that could be equipped with multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles. China is also attempting to further diversify its nuclear forces by deploying a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine.

Michael S. Chase and Andrew S. Erickson, The Conventional Missile Capabilities of China’s Second Artillery Force: Cornerstone of Deterrence and Warfighting,” Asian Security, 8.2 (Summer 2012): 115-37.

Since its establishment in the early 1990s, the conventional missile component of the People’s Liberation Army’s Second Artillery Force (SAF) has emerged as a centerpiece of China’s accelerating military modernization program. The conventional missile force has grown in size and sophistication, and China has developed a doctrine for its employment. Chinese military publications emphasize that it plays an increasingly important role in deterrence and warfighting. In particular, Chinese sources underscore its role in achieving information dominance, air superiority, and sea control as well as countering third-party intervention. China’s development of advanced conventional missile capabilities highlights the growing vulnerability of fixed bases and surface ships. Moreover, organizational tendencies, could fuel dangerous escalation. In response to these challenges, the United States must adapt its traditional approach to military operations and deterrence in the Asia-Pacific.

Michael S. Chase and Andrew S. Erickson, “A Competitive Strategy with Chinese Characteristics? The Second Artillery’s Growing Conventional Forces and Missions,” in Thomas Mahnken, ed., Competitive Strategies for the 21st Century: Theory, History, and Practice (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012), 206-18.

The transformation of the Second Artillery Force (SAF)—the part of the PLA responsible for most of China’s conventional and nuclear ballistic and land-attack cruise missiles—is one of the centerpieces of the PRC’s military modernization program. In a relatively short period, China has progressed from a limited and vulnerable nuclear ballistic missile capability to one of the world’s most impressive nuclear and conventional ballistic missile programs. As the U.S. Department of Defense’s report on Chinese military and security developments puts it, “China has the most active land-based ballistic and cruise missile program in the world.”

Andrew S. Erickson and Michael S. Chase, “Informatization and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy,” in Phillip C. Saunders, Christopher Yung, Michael Swaine, and Andrew Nien-dzu Yang, eds., The Chinese Navy: Expanding Capabilities, Evolving Roles (Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, 2011), 247-86.

In recent years, the modernization of the PLA Navy (PLAN) has become a very high priority for China. Senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders and high-ranking military officers have emphasized the importance of naval modernization. Most prominently, CCP General Secretary, President, and Central Military Commission (CMC) Chairman Hu Jintao in a December 2006 speech to PLAN officers underscored the need to “endeavor to build a powerful People’s navy that can adapt to its historical mission during a new century and a new period.” Similarly, PLAN Commander Wu Shengli and PLAN Political Commissar Hu Yanlin promoted the importance of naval modernization in an article that appeared subsequently in the authoritative CCP journal Seeking Truth (求事). According to Wu and Hu, “Since the reform and open door policy, along with the consistent increase of overall national strength, the oceanic awareness and national defense awareness of the Chinese people have been raised and the desire to build a powerful navy, strengthen the modern national defense and realize the great revitalization of China has become stronger than at any other time.” Moreover, Wu and Hu contend, “To build a powerful navy is the practical need for maintaining the safety of the national sovereignty and maritime rights.” High-level statements such as these appear intended to underscore the importance that China’s civilian and military leaders attach to the modernization of the PLAN.

Michael S. Chase, “Strategic Implications of Chinese Land-Attack Cruise Missile Development,” in Andrew S. Erickson and Lyle J. Goldstein, eds.Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2011), 287-303.

Much scholarly attention has been devoted to China’s rapidly growing ballistic missile force in recent years, but relatively little has been written on China’s development of its land-attack cruise missile (LACM) capabilities. Considering the rapid increase in the number and sophistication of Chinese short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), the deployment of China’s DF-31 and DF-31A road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and the development of conventionally armed medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs), including one intended to target aircraft carriers, it is understandable that Chinese LACM developments have been overshadowed to some extent by these impressive ballistic missile force modernization efforts. The development of Chinese LACM capabilities is clearly worthy of greater analytical attention, however, especially given its potential strategic implications for the United States and its friends and allies in the region. Indeed, China’s public display of DH-10 LACMs during the 1 October 2009 military parade that marked the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) appeared to demonstrate the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) growing confidence in its LACM capabilities. As if to underscore the message sent by the appearance of the DH-10 LACM launchers in the parade, an official Chinese media report carried comments by Lieutenant Colonel Gou Yi, the Second Artillery officer in charge of the cruise missile formation, who described China’s LACMs as “sharp swords” for precision attacks against regional targets. The same report also highlighted remarks by deputy commander of the Second Artillery Yu Jixun, who emphasized several key characteristics of the LACMs that were on display during the parade, including their long-range precision targeting, concealed deployment, and rapid response capabilities.

Michael S. Chase and Andrew S. Erickson, “Changing Beijing’s Approach to Overseas Basing? Jamestown China Brief 9.19 (24 September 2009).

Although China has traditionally avoided basing its troops abroad, the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) growing global interests and its military’s evolving missions are leading some Chinese analysts to suggest that Beijing may need to reconsider its traditional aversion to establishing overseas military facilities. In particular, the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) experience with anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden that began in December 2008 appears to have sparked a debate over the efficacy of continuing to adhere to China’s oft-stated and longstanding policy of refraining from establishing any overseas military bases or other dedicated facilities capable of supporting military operations in distant regions. As the PRC’s global interests rapidly expand, Chinese security analysts are debating the potential value of such new steps as “establishing land-based supply and support facilities” with increased frequency and intensity. This suggests China may be on the verge of moving beyond its traditional approach. Indeed, some Chinese scholars and military officers are now calling for the establishment of such overseas support facilities to handle the logistics required by a more active role abroad for the Chinese military.

Andrew S. Erickson and Michael Chase, “China’s SSBN Force: Transitioning to the Next Generation,” Jamestown China Brief 9.12 (10 June 2009).

China’s undersea deterrent is undergoing a generational change with the emergence of the Type-094, or Jin-class, which represents a substantial improvement over China’s first-generation Type-092, or Xia-class, nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). Launched in the early 1980s, the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) single Xia-class SSBN has never conducted a deterrent patrol and is equipped with relatively short-range (1,770 km) JL-1 SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles). In contrast, China may build five Type-094 SSBNs, which will enable the PLAN to conduct near-continuous deterrent patrols, and each of these second-generation SSBNs will be outfitted with 12 developmental JL-2 SLBMs that have an estimated range of at least 7,200 km and are equipped with penetration aids. Although the transition to the new SSBN is ongoing, recent Internet photos depicting at least two Jin-class SSBNs suggest that the PLAN has reached an unprecedented level of confidence in the sea-based leg of its strategic nuclear forces. Indeed, China’s 2008 Defense White Paper states that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is enhancing its “nuclear counterattack” capability. With the anticipated introduction of the JL-2 missiles on the Jin and the deployment of DF-31 and DF-31A road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), China is on the verge of attaining a credible nuclear deterrent based on a ‘survivable’ second-strike capability.

Andrew S. Erickson and Michael S. Chase, “An Undersea Deterrent? China’s Emerging SSBN Force,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 135.4 (June 2009): 36-41.

China’s investment in a nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine force and the accompanying infrastructure indicates a major effort to take the boats to sea. Increasingly aggressive Chinese harassment of U.S. survey vessels came to a head on 8 March when five Chinese ships surrounded the ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23), with one Chinese crew member even apparently attempting to snag her towed array with a grappling hook. The Impeccable was operating in international waters 75 miles south of China’s new Yalong Bay submarine base on Hainan Island, prompting speculation that the Chinese actions represented a coordinated effort to dissuade the United States from monitoring China’s latest nuclear-powered submarines and their area of operations. According to Xiamen University South China Sea expert Li Jinming, “It is well known that the submarine base was established [at Hainan], so it is unacceptable for China to have the U.S. Navy snooping around so close.” This incident suggests that Beijing may be particularly sensitive about U.S. activities in this region, in part because it appears poised to become the home base of China’s second generation of nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs), the Type 094, or Jin-class.

Michael Chase, Andrew S. Erickson, and Christopher Yeaw, “The Future of Chinese Deterrence Strategy,” Jamestown China Brief 9.5 (4 March 2009): 6-9.

The development of China’s nuclear and conventional missile power has been among the most impressive and most closely watched aspects of Chinese military modernization over the past two decades. During the past 20 years, the Second Artillery Corps (SAC) has been transformed from a small and exclusively nuclear force to a much larger and more powerful force with a variety of roles for a growing and increasingly sophisticated arsenal of nuclear and conventional missiles. The deployment of the road-mobile DF-31 and DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) is enhancing the striking power and survivability of China’s nuclear forces. Moreover, the deployment of more than 1,000 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) since the SAC was given a conventional role in the 1990s gives China many options for striking targets in the region. The development of an anti-ship ballistic missile capability could deter or otherwise complicate U.S. intervention in the event of a regional crisis or conflict. In addition to these developments, the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) contribution to China’s nuclear deterrence posture is also changing with the transition from the PRC’s first-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), which was armed with the relatively short-range JL-1 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and never conducted a deterrent patrol, to perhaps as many as five Jin-class SSBNs, each of which will be armed with 12 JL-2 SLBMs. This will diversify China’s nuclear deterrent and may further enhance its survivability. Chinese analysts assess that the deployment of SSBNs and land-based mobile missiles will “fundamentally ensure the reliability and credibility of China’s nuclear force.” The SAC’s growing conventional ballistic missile capabilities, particularly the anti-ship ballistic missile, also suggest a growing deterrence role for these conventional forces.

Michael Chase, Andrew S. Erickson, and Christopher Yeaw, “Chinese Theater and Strategic Missile Force Modernization and its Implications for the United States,” Journal of Strategic Studies 32.1 (February 2009): 67-114.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC), no longer content with its longstanding ‘minimalist’ nuclear posture and strategy, is enhancing the striking power and survivability of its theater and strategic missile forces and rethinking its nuclear doctrine in ways that may pose serious challenges for the United States. Although the modernization of Chinese nuclear and missile forces may ultimately result in greater strategic deterrence stability, this change will not come about immediately or automatically. Indeed, it is entirely possible that China’s growing missile capabilities could decrease crisis stability under certain circumstances, especially in the event of a US–China conflict over Taiwan.

Andrew S. Erickson and Michael S. Chase, “Information Technology and China’s Naval Modernization,” Joint Force Quarterly 50 (3rd quarter 2008): 24-30.

In recent years, the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has become a high priority for senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders and high-ranking military officers. This growing urgency about modernization is focused largely, but by no means exclusively, on a possible conflict over Taiwan. At the same time, the navy must be prepared for a wider range of missions, including the protection of maritime resources and energy security issues. These missions drive PLAN requirements, not only for the new platforms China is putting into service with the navy, but also for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities.


Michael S. Chase, Taiwan’s Security Policy: External Threats and Domestic Politics (Boulder, CO: Lynne RiennerMay 2008).

Confounding expectations, Taiwan is reducing its military spending even as its sole adversary, the People’s Republic of China, modernizes its military and significantly increases its defense budget. Michael Chase examines the key factors that have shaped Taiwan’s security policy over a span of three decades. Chase explores both the role of US security assurances in formulating Taiwan’s defense policy and the profound influence that domestic politics has played. He also considers the context of cross-Strait relations and the implications of Taiwan’s security choices for potential instability and conflict in the region and beyond. Relying on extensive Chinese-language sources and interviews, he offers the most definitive treatment of Taiwan’s security policy to date. This book explores the key external and domestic factors shaping Taiwan’s current security policy.

Andrew S. Erickson and Michael S. Chase, “PLA Navy Modernization: Preparing for ‘Informatized’ War at Sea,” Jamestown China Brief 8.5 (29 February 2008): 2-5.

In recent years, senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders and high-ranking military officers have repeatedly emphasized the importance of naval modernization. This growing sense of urgency about naval modernization appears to be a function of increasing concern about maritime security issues, particularly Taiwan, the protection of maritime resources and energy security. These missions drive the PLAN’s requirements, not only for new platforms, but also for command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities. Enhancing the PLAN’s information technology and communications capabilities is thus seen as critical to the success of Chinese naval modernization.  Reaching this goal hinges on narrowing the gap between the PLAN and the world’s most advanced navies through the development, acquisition and integration of advanced information technology.

Roger CliffMark BurlesMichael S. ChaseDerek Eaton, and Kevin L. PollpeterChina Could Use “Antiaccess” Strategies to Counter U.S. Military Superiority
 RB-213-AF (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 22 March 2007).

This research brief addresses the possibility that potential adversaries might attempt to gain the upper hand against the United States by denying it access to technical and strategic assets.

Roger CliffMark BurlesMichael S. ChaseDerek Eaton, and Kevin L. PollpeterEntering the Dragon’s Lair: Chinese Antiaccess Strategies and Their Implications for the United States
 MG-524-AF (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 21 March 2007). 

Antiaccess strategies could allow China to reach its military and political objectives while keeping the United States from doing so. There are a number of actions the United States can take to counter such strategies.

James C. MulvenonMurray Scot TannerMichael S. ChaseDavid R. FrelingerDavid C. GompertMartin C. Libicki, and Kevin L. PollpeterChinese Responses to U.S. Military Transformation and Implications for the Department of Defense MG-340-OSD (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 7 March 2006).

Considers potential Chinese responses to U.S. transformation efforts and offers possible U.S. counterresponses.

Michael S. ChaseKevin L. Pollpeter, and James C. MulvenonShanghaied? The Economic and Political Implications of the Flow of Information Technology and Investment Across the Taiwan Strait
 TR-133 (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 13 December 2004).

Analyzes the dynamics of the transfer of technology and capital between Taiwan and China and assesses their impact on cross-Strait relations and the worldwide semiconductor industry.

Michael S. Chase and James C. MulvenonYou’ve Got Dissent! Chinese Dissident Use of the Internet and Beijing’s Counter-Strategies
 MR-1543 (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1 February 2002).

An analysis of the political use of the Internet by Chinese dissidents, both in the PRC and abroad, and the counterstrategies that Beijing has employed to prevent or minimize its impact.