A History of the Modern Chinese Army

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Overview

Since the establishment of the Red Army in 1927, China's military has responded to profound changes in Chinese society, particularly its domestic politics, shifting economy, and evolving threat perceptions. Recently tensions between China and Taiwan and other east Asian nations have aroused great interest in the extraordinary transformation and new capabilities of the Chinese army. In A History of the Modern Chinese Army, Xiaobing Li, a former member of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), provides a comprehensive examination of the PLA from the Cold War to the beginning of the twenty-first century that highlights the military's central function in modern Chinese society. In the 1940s, the Chinese army was in its infancy, and many soldiers were rural conscripts and volunteers who had received little formal schooling. The Chinese military rapidly increased its mobility and weapon strength, and the Korean War and Cold War offered intense combat experience that not only allowed soldiers to hone their fighting techniques but also helped China to develop military tactics tailored to the surrounding countries whose armies posed the most immediate threats. Yet even in the 1970s, the completion of a middle school education (nine years) was considered above-average, and only 4 percent of the 224 top Chinese generals had any college credit hours. However, in 1995 the high command began to institute massive reforms to transform the PLA from a labor-intensive force into a technology-intensive army. Continually seeking more urban conscripts and emphasizing higher education, the PLA Reserve Officer Training and Selection program recruited students from across the nation. These reservists would become commissioned officers upon graduation, and they majored in atomic physics, computer science, and electrical engineering. Grounding the text in previously unreleased official Chinese government and military records as well as the personal testimonies of more than two hundred PLA soldiers, Li charts the development of China's armed forces against the backdrop of Chinese society, cultural traditions, political history, and recent technological advancements. A History of the Modern Chinese Army links China's military modernization to the country's growing international and economic power and provides a unique perspective on China's esttablishment and maintenance of one of the world's most advanced military forces.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Professor Xiaobing Li has done us a great service with this contribution. Among the conclusions that we can draw from this book are that China's military remains behind in its evolution in spite of many years of efforts at modernization, and that its dependence on foreign expertise, particularly Russian, continues." —On Track" —

"Professor Li belongs to an indispensable and distinct group of scholars that has emerged in the post-Mao period….Their contribution to our understanding of the PLA, a force that will require our increasing attention, cannot be ignored." —On track" —

"Li does an credible job of walking the fine line of the elaborate charade of the creation of an "independent" modern developmental state."—The China Journal" —

"The book is very well researched and is a valuable addition to the growing literature on the PLA that will appeal to both specialists and general readers."—The China Quarterly" —

"Although there are many fine books on specific aspects of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), there is a real need for a more general work surveying the Chinese military. Li Xiaobang, professor history at the University of Central Oklahoma and himself a PLA veteran, has produced such a volume." —J.T. Dreyer, Department of Political Science, University of Miami" —

"This well-written, broad overview of Chinese modern military history provides an interesting and useful approach to understanding the domestic and geopolitical forces that have shaped China's military forces." —China Review International" —

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813192406
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Xiaobing Li, professor of history and director of the Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma, is coauthor of Voices from the Korean War: Personal Stories of American, Korean, and Chinese Soldiers. He served in the People's Liberation Army in China.

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