James Mulvenon

Biography: 

James Mulvenon is Deputy Director, Advanced Analysis at DGI's Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis. A specialist on the Chinese military, Dr. Mulvenon's research focuses on Chinese C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance), defense research/development/acquisition organizations and policy, strategic weapons programs (computer network attack and nuclear warfare), cryptography, and the military and civilian implications of the information revolution in China.

Dr. Mulvenon's book, Soldiers of Fortune (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2001), details the rise and fall of the Chinese military's multi-billion dollar international business empire. He has authored a chapter on Chinese civil-military relations in the recently published Civil-Military Change in China: Elites, Institutions, and Ideas after the 16th Party Congress (Carlisle Barracks, PA: US Army War College, 2004). His unclassified RAND monographs include Breaching the Great Firewall: Dissident Technologies Versus China's Internet Control Systems (DRR-3396), Shanghaied? The Economic and Political Implication of Cross-Strait Information Technology and Investment Flows (MG-143), Chinese Military Commerce and U.S. National Security (MR-907.0-CAPP), and Professionalization of the Senior Chinese Officer Corps: Trends and Implications (MR-901-OSD).

With the Center for Naval Analyses Corporation, Dr. Mulvenon is the co-organizer of the premier annual conference on the Chinese military and co-editor of its latest edited volume, entitled A Poverty of Riches: New Challenges and Opportunities in PLA Research (CF-189-NSRD). Previous edited volumes include The People's Liberation Army as Organization: Reference Volume v1.0 (CF-182-NSRD), Seeking Truth From Facts: A Retrospective on Chinese Military Studies in the Post-Mao Era (CF-160-CAPP), and The People's Liberation Army in the Information Age (CF-145-CAPP/AF).

Among his professional affiliations, Dr. Mulvenon is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a founding member of the Cyber Conflict Studies Association, and a member of the National Committee for U.S.-China Relations and the Association for Asian Studies. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and attended Fudan University in Shanghai from 1991 to 1992. Dr. Mulvenon is married to the former Mary Hampton of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. They reside in Burke, Virginia, with their daughters, Kate and Ellie.

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Recent Commentary

Military Affairs

“Scraping Poison Off the Bone”: An Examination of the Campaign to “Eliminate the Baneful Influence of Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou”

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

In July 2016, Chinese state media began using a new formulation about “eliminating the baneful [pernicious] influence of Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou” from the military. 

Military Affairs

Xi Jinping Has a Cool New Nickname: “Commander-in-Chief”

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, August 30, 2016

On 20 April 2016, Xi Jinping formally inspected the Central Military Commission’s joint battle command center, broadcast on national television.

Military Affairs

PLA Divestiture 2.0: We Mean It This Time

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

In November 2015, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced that the military’s remaining sanctioned participation in the PRC economy, known as “paid services,” would be phased out over the course of three years.

Military Affairs

China’s “Goldwater-Nichols”? The Long-Awaited PLA Reorganization Has Finally Arrived

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, March 1, 2016

On 31 December 2015, CCP supremo Xi Jinping announced the most sweeping reorganization of the People’s Liberation Army since the 1950s.

Beijing, China
Military AffairsAnalysis and Commentary

So Crooked They Have To Screw Their Pants On—Part 3: The Guo Boxiong Edition

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, September 9, 2015

On 30 July, the Central Committee announced that General Guo Boxiong, who served as vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission between 2002 and 2012, was expelled from the Chinese Communist Party and handed over to prosecutors for accepting bribes. 

Military Affairs

The Yuan Stops Here: Xi Jinping and the “CMC Chairman Responsibility System”

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Xi Jinping era has been marked by a greater degree of personalized command, sometimes veering toward cult of personality, than any leadership period since the death of Mao Zedong. 

Mao Zedong Oration in Yan’an, circa 1937
Military Affairs

Hotel Gutian: We Haven’t Had That Spirit Here Since 1929

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Thursday, March 19, 2015

In November 2014, Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping used the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the 1929 Gutian Conference to convene a critical meeting on political work in the People’s Liberation Army.

Beijing, China
Military Affairs

Lawyers, Guns and Money: The Coming Show Trial of General Xu Caihou

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On 30 June 2014, the Chinese Communist Party expelled former Politburo member and Central Military Commission vice-chair Xu Caihou for corruption following a three-month investigation. 

Military Affairs

Groupthink? PLA Leading Small Groups and the Prospect for Real Reform and Change in the Chinese Military

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

As a result of the 18th Party Congress and its subsequent plenums, especially the Third Plenum in the fall of 2013, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has embarked on a broad set of institutional reforms, tackling training, political work, command and control, and corruption among others. These reform efforts fall under the purview of newly established “leading groups,” led by senior officials in the relevant offices. This article examines the personnel and institutional makeup of these new groups, outlines their declared and undeclared missions, and assesses the probability of their success.

Military Affairs

Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Liaoning?—The PLA Once Again Considers Reorganization

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, March 14, 2014

Since the first sweeping structural reform of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in 1985, the military media have periodically floated trial balloons about deeper restructuring, but the political realities of the situation have consistently stymied the proposed changes. In early 2014, the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the PLA was planning to make the most significant modifications to its command and control structure in almost 30 years, replacing its administrative, geographically oriented military region system with a mission-oriented configuration designed to match the increasing “joint” orientation of its deployed forces. To the surprise of many, official Chinese media organs did not reject the report out of hand, but instead expressed dismay that the information had been disseminated prematurely, and grudgingly acknowledged plans to carry out the changes. This article describes the historical rationale for the current command and control structure of the PLA, analyzes the factors motivating its alteration, and assesses the implications of these latest indications of reform.

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