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Strategic Papers 06 February, 2024

Modernization of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and Its Impact on the Security of the Indo-Pacific Region

Tomasz Smura

​Director of Research Office at the Casimir Pulaski Foundation and a member of the CPF Board. He is a graduate of the Institute of International Relations at the University of Warsaw. He previously studied at the University of Nottingham as well. His doctoral dissertation concerned the development of the power balance system in East Asia, and his research interests include US foreign policy, East Asia, and international security.

acrobat Icon There is no doubt that the rise of China’s power and assertiveness on the international stage may be one of the most important influences on the international order in the coming years. Since the beginning of the process of economic reforms launched by paramount Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in the early 80s, the People Republic of China has been continuing a period of unprecedented economic development. The Chinese economic boom modernized country and brought prosperity to hundreds of millions of Chinese people, but it also enabled the PRC leadership to launch the major process of modernizing the armed forces. China’s rising military power, in turn, enables Beijing to behave more assertively on the international stage, especially towards its neighbours. This paper asks: What are strategic goals and the current state of the Chinese armed forces’ development and how do the US and other countries of the Indo-Pacific region, especially those perceiving the PRC as potential threat, or at least a challenge, perceive and respond to the rise of China’s military power? It argues that the modernization of the Chinese People's Liberation Army has had a serious impact on the Indo-Pacific region’s security architecture as it propels the arms race in the and forces the PRC’s neighbours to create new alliances to counterbalance China.