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From the Great Hall, a focus on the PLA

One of the most awaited sections of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s wide-ranging work report was on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army; there are far-reaching implications

The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) President Xi Jinping delivered a wide-ranging work report laying out the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) agenda for China over the next five years. The speech covered everything — from the economy, to the environment and technology, to Taiwan. One of the most awaited sections of his report was on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Here are four important takeaways from Mr. Xi’s speech for the PLA.

One, the most noticeable aspect of his speech was his use of the phrase “powerful strong strategic deterrent capabilities system” ( qiangda zhanlue weishe liliang tixi). This was missing from his previous speeches and work reports. This emphasises a slight shift in Chinese policy thinking on nuclear deterrence. As Tong Zhao, a China nuclear strategy scholar, highlights, the traditional policy of a “lean and effective nuclear force” ( jinggan youxiao), which was only completely explained in a defence white paper in 2006, was altered in 2021 to “an advanced/high-level strategic deterrent system” ( gao shuiping zhanlue weishe tixi).


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