The Chinese use a term ‘Xuanchuán’, which literally means propaganda — an intrinsic tact of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to legitimise various state actions and to posture a certain inevitable destiny, muscularity and invincibility among all stakeholders, domestically and externally. The Chinese leadership often teases and releases unverifiable information about its military preparedness and technological advancements. The deliberate sneak-peak of the fifth generation stealth fighter plane J-20, nuclear submarines, aircraft carrier program and cruise missiles among others are all a part of the intimidation and muscle-flexing exercise. A carefully calibrated media environment advances a narrative of the next-generation capabilities like hypersonic weaponry, cyberwarfare and an overall security framework that entails the most advanced ‘anti-access/area-denial’ military doctrines (A2/AD). This perception of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) capability (entailing ground forces, Navy, Air Force, rocket force and strategic support force) then supports the more political and diplomatic aggression that the Chinese leadership indulges on its expansionist agenda in Taiwan and South China Sea belligerence. This sense of ‘war-clouds’ was implicit in the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first order of 2019 to the PLA, where he stated, “All military units must correctly understand major national security and development trends and strengthen their sense of unexpected hardship, crisis and battle”.

Undeniably, the PLA is the largest military force in the world (two million active strength) with the second largest defence budget of $175 billion, annually. This is nearly four times that of India ($45 billion) and it grew at an unprecedented rate of eight per cent over the previous year. This generous outlay was possible due to the Chinese economic juggernaut that affords the indulgences of the interlinked diplomatic-military Chinese footprint across the globe and funds crucial investments for the PLA’s modernisation and technology development. Yet, military analysts are not entirely convinced of the PLA’s battle-preparedness.

For starters, the PLA is still technically a ‘party Army’ and is given to distraction and time-consuming indoctrination sessions at all operational levels by political officers of the CPC. While all career officers of the PLA are CPC members, the apex decision-making body for the PLA is drawn from the communist party committees that are dominated by civilian party members and ideologues, as opposed to career military men. The state is forever paranoid about regime-change (especially after the Tiananmen Square incident), and, therefore, the top brass of the PLA is firmly reined in under the party directive that could affect serious soldiering, culture and professional efficacy.

Source :- dailypioneer

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