November 22, 2002
What are the Critical Challenges posed by the People's Republic of China(PRC)? The PRC has recently become a member of the World Trade Organization, is in the midst of a crucial leadership succession, and is embarked on an extensive military modernization. The Chinese military budget has been increasing at a double-digit rate for twelve consecutive years. China is signaling its intent to become an international aerospace power with an aggressive initiative to evolve a variety of commercial and military aircraft, space launch vehicles and satellites. A manned orbital space mission is anticipated as early as next year. The introduction of new People's Liberation Army (PLA) military capabilities is being significantly enhanced and accelerated by the acquisition of advanced Russian warships, submarines, aircraft, weapons and technology. China's strategic planners view a modernized military as crucial to guaranteeing its rise as a world economic power and its ambitions to become the preeminent power in Asia. Key to achieving these objectives are resolution of its regional security issues with Taiwan and access to new oil and natural resources in currently disputed regions. The continued buildup of PLA missiles and naval capability opposite Taiwan is evidence of a strategy of coercive military intimidation that has an uncertain outcome. The evolution of advanced PRC military capabilities that can provide a commercial-strategic leverage over some of the world's most vital naval shipping lanes and choke points is of major concern to the US and many countries in the region. The modernization of the Chinese military, and its implications for US policy and military transformation, is a vast and critically important subject. The speaker has recently returned from the fourth Zhuhai Air Show and will provide insights into the nature of the Chinese military modernization.
Mr. Richard D. Fisher joined the Center for Security Policy as an Adjunct Fellow in Asian Studies in March 2002. He concentrates on U.S. security policy in South Asia and East Asia and is an expert on the capabilities of China's People's Liberation Army. Mr. Fisher received a Batchelors degree in 1981 from Eisenhower College, New York. From 1983-1999, Mr. Fisher served as Director for the Asian Studies Center of the Heritage Foundation. From August 1999 until January 2000, Mr. Fisher served as a Senior Analyst on military and strategic affairs for the House Republican Policy Committee on matters pertaining to the House Select Committee for U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China. Since February 2000, Mr. Fisher has served as a Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, an organization that monitors political, social, economic and military trends in communist and former communist states. He is a frequent commentator on Asian issues for radio and television and has given testimony to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Committee, the House Armed Services Committee and the U.S. China Security Commission.