The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), officially the army of the Communist Party of China (CPC) – hereinafter the “CPC” or the “Party” –, has always been a crucial player in the Chinese political system. It is not a national army, although it is the only army China has and its members have been active participants in the life of the State since its founding. The close relationship between the armed forces and the Party has, over time, encouraged Chinese policy analysts to explore the influence of the PLA on national decision-making processes, and consider this interaction as “intrinsic to the Party leadership itself ”. The involvement of the PLA in this regard has been compared to that of an “interest group” capable of exerting pressure on political decisions about aspects of national stability and, more recently, security, defence, and foreign policy. Assessing the weight of the PLA as an interest group, mostly in foreign policy, is also the aim of this analysis, which proceeds as follows. First, it briefly reviews the major reforms that have targeted the PLA, emphasising how such restructurings have stimulated the creation of an identity for the military as an interest group. Second, it investigates the current role of PLA officers in Party institutions, mainly focusing on the functioning of the Central Military Commission (CMC), which is one of the key bodies used by the military to lobby politicians and influence foreign policy decision-making. Third, the article introduces readers to the ongoing shrinkage of civil society that is taking place under the leadership of General Secretary, and President, Xi Jinping and which is having consequences for the performance of interest groups in Chinese policy-making, and more generally for its political system. In this respect, the reform measures that the PLA is currently undergoing also embody Xi Jinping’s desire to reduce the rise of interests, due to the presence of groups not entirely under the authority and control of the Party, which may clash with his policy agenda. The impact of Xi's recent power centralisation efforts on the military's capacity may have contributed to a decrease in the extent to which the PLA continues to have a say in foreign policy.

The Military Clout of China’s Foreign Policy

Flavia Lucenti
2022

Abstract

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), officially the army of the Communist Party of China (CPC) – hereinafter the “CPC” or the “Party” –, has always been a crucial player in the Chinese political system. It is not a national army, although it is the only army China has and its members have been active participants in the life of the State since its founding. The close relationship between the armed forces and the Party has, over time, encouraged Chinese policy analysts to explore the influence of the PLA on national decision-making processes, and consider this interaction as “intrinsic to the Party leadership itself ”. The involvement of the PLA in this regard has been compared to that of an “interest group” capable of exerting pressure on political decisions about aspects of national stability and, more recently, security, defence, and foreign policy. Assessing the weight of the PLA as an interest group, mostly in foreign policy, is also the aim of this analysis, which proceeds as follows. First, it briefly reviews the major reforms that have targeted the PLA, emphasising how such restructurings have stimulated the creation of an identity for the military as an interest group. Second, it investigates the current role of PLA officers in Party institutions, mainly focusing on the functioning of the Central Military Commission (CMC), which is one of the key bodies used by the military to lobby politicians and influence foreign policy decision-making. Third, the article introduces readers to the ongoing shrinkage of civil society that is taking place under the leadership of General Secretary, and President, Xi Jinping and which is having consequences for the performance of interest groups in Chinese policy-making, and more generally for its political system. In this respect, the reform measures that the PLA is currently undergoing also embody Xi Jinping’s desire to reduce the rise of interests, due to the presence of groups not entirely under the authority and control of the Party, which may clash with his policy agenda. The impact of Xi's recent power centralisation efforts on the military's capacity may have contributed to a decrease in the extent to which the PLA continues to have a say in foreign policy.
China's Foreign Policies Today. Who is in Charge of What
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/885485
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