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HomeGeopolitical CompassEast AsiaPoliticalization or Professionalism? A Case Study of the Military’s Discourse in China

Politicalization or Professionalism? A Case Study of the Military’s Discourse in China

Author: Zhifan Luo

Affiliation: Department of Sociology, University at Albany, NY, USA

Organization/Publisher: Armed Forces and Society

Date/Place: March 5, 2020/U.S.

Type of Literature: Journal Article

Number of Pages: 20


Keywords: Civil–military relations, Political discourse, Professionalism, Computer-assisted text analysis, China, People’s Liberation Army


Civil-Military relations in China are unique as compared to Western and other developing countries’ models. Its military, i.e. the People’s Liberation Army, is part of a unitary political system where all ranks of military are considered as part of the Communist Party of China  (CPC). Where military professionalism in other States means an apolitical attitude of its armed forces, such is not applicable in the Chinese perspective. Military professionalism in the Chinese civil-military context has enhanced PLA’s political influence since 1990, where in two instances civilian control over the military was weakened, when civilian heads of the Central Military Commission (CMC) were sidelined by their military subordinates during the regimes of Jian Zemin and Hu Jintao. According to this study, the leaders of the PLA used professionalism and politicalization as tools to justify military intervention in the political and decision-making hierarchy of China. The Chinese Military Industrial Complex (MIC) model is also different as compared to the traditional one in the US. The PLA is very integrated in politics, particularly within the CPC, as claimed in this study the “people’s army” and its corporate interests have become synonymous with the party’s interests since 1970. The article concludes that despite the natural and traditional tug-of-war between civil and military leadership, the consent of the CPC is essential for the PLA to intervene in the Chinese political arena. 

By: Muhammad Taimoor Bin Tanveer, CIGA Research Associate



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