People’s Liberation Army Modernisation: from drivers of change to strengths and weaknesses

Since its founding in 1927, the PLA has transformed from a foot-soldier heavy and poorly equipped military into a modern military with growing regional power and developing global reach. However, despite its ability to assert Chinese power within the Indo-Pacific region and protect Chinese interests, the PLA’s road to modernisation is not complete. Beyond the ‘heavy metal’ achievements made in the past decade, other elements of the PLA’s development towards becoming a ‘world-class military’ that is capable of ‘fighting and winning wars’ are still a work in progress. This presentation will cover the PLA’s tasks under the President Xi Jinping’s leadership, it’s modernisation successes, lastly, its weaknesses. The presentation will also touch on how this plays out in a few key regional security questions.

Meia Nouwens is a Senior Fellow for Chinese Defense Policy and Military Modernization at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Her expertise lies in China’s international relations, regional strategic affairs, and cross-service defense analysis. Previously, Ms. Nouwens worked for the European Union’s representative offices in New Zealand and Taiwan, and has worked in the public and private sector focusing on security analysis. She holds a BA Honors in International Relations and Political Science from Macquarie University, a Masters of International Relations and Diplomacy from Leiden University in conjunction with the Clingendael Institute, and an MPhil in Modern Chinese Studies from the University of Oxford and Peking University. Meia is bilingual in Dutch and English, and proficient in Mandarin, French and Spanish.