James Mulvenon

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Military Affairs

Chairman Hu and the PLA’s "New Historic Missions"

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 9, 2009

In a speech delivered on Christmas Eve 2004, Hu Jintao introduced a new set of "historic missions" for the Chinese armed forces. These missions constitute one part of a broader revision of the PLA’s "strategic guiding theory," derived in large measure from Hu Jintao’s overall ideological guidance on "scientific development." This article examines the timing, content, dissemination, and implementation of the "historic missions," which is a useful test case of Hu’s relationship with the PLA as reflected in military political work.

Military Affairs

The Party Holds The Ring: Civil-Military Relations and Olympic Security

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The 2008 Beijing Olympics is China’s debut as a global power, and the Beijing leadership made it clear that it wanted everything to go perfectly. After the riots and crackdown in Tibet, protests around the Olympic torch, and bombings in Xinjiang, however, pressure on the security apparatus to fulfill the leadership’s wishes was intense. This article examines the role of the People’s Liberation Army’s in ensuring Olympic security, and assesses the implications of the security command structure for civil-military relations.

Military Affairs

The Chinese Military’s Earthquake Response Leadership Team

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On 12 May, China was rocked by a 7.9 earthquake, epicentered just north of Chengdu in Sichuan Province. The People’s Liberation Army was quickly mobilized to deal with the national disaster, as it has been throughout the PRC’s history. This article examines the military leadership team involved in the earthquake rescue and recovery operation, assessing the implications of the natural disaster for the PLA’s domestic image, civil-military relations, and international posture.

Military Affairs

The “Dawn of Heaven”?—A New Player in Sino-U.S. Mil-Mil

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Previous China Leadership Monitor articles have focused upon China’s significant deficiencies in crisis management and strategic signaling, and explored the role of military-to-military relations in either improving or exacerbating those problems. Often, the success or failure of those interactions is determined in part by the personalities involved. In the past year, there has been a sea change in the Chinese team responsible for these activities, in particular the replacement of longtime interlocutor and nemesis Xiong Guangkai with Ma Xiaotian and Chen Xiaogong. CLM 22 presented a fuller picture of Chen Xiaogong than previously available. This article is devoted to Ma Xiaotian.

Military Affairs

Chinese Military Leadership After the 17th Congress: Hu’s Guys or Whose Guys?

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The civilian political leadership changes at the 17th Party Congress in October 2007 have received close scrutiny from outside observers, but important and interesting personnel adjustments in the military have garnered less attention. This article examines recent Chinese military leadership changes in detail, focusing principally on the Central Military Commission but also tracking significant moves at the military region and service level.

Military Affairs

Chen Xiaogong: A Political Biography

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, October 5, 2007

After less than a year in the position, Deputy Chief of the General Staff for intelligence Zhang Qinsheng’s duties were assumed in June 2007 by new Assistant Chief of the General Staff Chen Xiaogong, a career intelligence officer in the General Staff’s Second Department. Chen is well known in American sinological circles, having served two tours at the PRC Embassy in Washington, and is well respected by interlocutors as a fluent America hand and strategic thinker. Yet Major General Chen’s 2001–2003 tour in the United States as defense attaché was also a career disappointment, as the hangover from the EP-3A crisis precluded contact with the Department of Defense for his entire tenure. This article outlines and analyzes Chen’s biography, assessing the implications of his career track and experiences for Sino-U.S. security relations.

Military Affairs

Make Talk Not War: Strategic U.S.-China Military-to-Military Exchanges in the First Half of 2007

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 16, 2007

Following key leadership transitions in the Pentagon and Pacific Command (PACOM), strategic military-to-military meetings have continued apace in 2007 with visits to China by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Pace and PACOM Commander Admiral Keating; reciprocal visits by PLA Navy Commander Admiral Wu Shengli to the United States; and an exchange between Deputy Chief of the General Staff Zhang Qinsheng and DoD leaders at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, where China announced that it would finally agree to a military hotline. While the regular conduct of these exchanges is a net positive for strategic U.S.-China relations, the externals highlight persistent tension and misperceptions about intent and capabilities. Further, the lack of demonstrable progress in some spheres, such as the establishment of any “incidents at sea” protocol under the Military Maritime Cooperative Agreement framework or the scheduling of Second Artillery Commander Jing Zhiyuan’s reciprocal visit to the United States, requires analysis and explanation.

Military Affairs

Rogue Warriors?—A Puzzled Look at the Chinese ASAT Test

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The disturbing bureaucratic silence that followed China’s recent anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons test for several days is but the latest in a string of incidents raising questions about civilian control and oversight over the Chinese military. Though few data exist about the internal machinations of the Beijing authorities, this article surveys possible explanations for the apparent lack of bureaucratic coordination on the issue and assesses the potential implications for Chinese civil-military relations.

Military Affairs

So Crooked They Have To Screw Their Pants On: New Trends in Chinese Military Corruption

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Corruption is the most dangerous cancer in the Chinese party-state today, and PRC media are replete with new revelations of official corruption at every level of the system. Not surprisingly, the military vanguard of the Party continues to be plagued by the same corrosive institutional corruption as the Party itself, despite divestiture from commercial operations in 1998 and eight intervening years of focus on rapid combat modernization. This article examines recent trends in Chinese military corruption, including the Wang Shouye scandal and the current PLA campaign against “commercial bribery.” It concludes that corruption in the PLA appears to have transitioned from a major, debilitating problem in the go-go days of PLA, Inc. in the 1980s and 1990s to a more manageable issue of military discipline in the new century. At the same time, the complicity of the military leadership in hiding Wang Shouye’s extraordinary extra-legal behavior until one of his mistresses forced its hand suggests that leadership has not institutionalized anti-corruption norms. Accordingly, military leadership analysis is a key element of understanding the depth and breadth of PLA corruption.

Military Affairs

Sino-US Military Relations and the Admiral Fallon Visit

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, July 7, 2006

In May 2006, the Combatant Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral William “Fox” Fallon, visited the People’s Republic of China, traveling to four cities and meeting with a wide range of civilian and military officials. During his meetings, Fallon invited the Chinese military to attend the “Valiant Shield 2006” exercise in June, an invitation the Chinese side accepted during the Defense Consultative Talks in June. This article examines the press coverage of Fallon’s trip, analyzing the comments of his Chinese interlocutors and the symbolism of his various meetings and activities.

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