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The change in the military potential of China to 2050
Material posted: Publication date: 07-04-2020
The military-political leadership of the PRC to ensure national security aims by 2050 to increase the military potential to the level of the United States.

Chinese military experts suggest that the people's liberation army (PLA) in 2050 will have the capacity to conduct large-scale joint operations and the transfer of large groups of troops and military equipment over long distances [1].

During the work of the XIX-th Congress of the Communist party of China (CPC) in 2017, the Chinese President XI Jinping aims at the further development of PLA: the achievement level of the US by 2049. It is assumed that the process of modernization of the PLA will be completed by 2035 and up to 2050, it will reach the U.S. level.

According to American military experts, the desire of the Chinese leadership, 2049 to achieve the military-technical parity with the United States through the use of breakthrough military technologies due to the opposition of the US group in the Pacific in the event of armed conflict and the protection of the national interests of China. Against this background, in the last 20 years, the US military superiority in the world gradually began to decline. However, the US command believes that the "third compensation strategy" involving large-scale development of breakthrough technologies, at the initial stage of its implementation confirmed the military-technological advantage over China. For the first time about the direction of the development of us forces, said the Center for strategic and international studies in USA (CSIS) in 2017 the report "Analysis and evaluation of the third compensatory strategies" (评估第三次抵消战略) [2].

Chinese President XI Jinping in 2017, said the need to accelerate the implementation of advanced military technology to achieve parity with the United States, using its own resources. US military experts confirm that in the framework of symmetric response, China implemented a significant portion of American high-tech initiatives. In the framework of asymmetric response - the leadership of the PLA places emphasis on "the strategy of isolation of the theater of military operations (TVD), limiting access and maneuver" - A2/AD [3].

According to the expert of the Academy of military Sciences of China fan Gaoua (樊高月), the military-political leadership of the PRC has the potential to increase opportunities in such fields as airspace and outer space; work on the implementation of breakthrough technologies in the following areas: robotics, weapons, Autonomous action, nanotechnology, unmanned systems, big data Analytics, artificial intelligence, quantum and cloud computing, biotechnology, interaction of machine and humans, supersonic. At the request of the Deputy Minister of defense Robert Walker (Robert Work), China is implementing its own "countervailing strategy with Chinese characteristics" [4].

US military experts believe that the purpose of the military-political leadership of China is at the initial stage by upgrading and re-equipment of the PLA achieve by 2035 the military parity with the United States in the Pacific to the line Islands: Honshu - GUAM - Saipan - New Guinea (scheme 1). With this goal in China will be solved the following tasks:

  1. The increasing capabilities of the PLA in the organization and conduct of combined military operations types and kinds of troops.

Since the founding of the PRC command of the PLA has prioritized the development of the army. Higher military-political leadership of the country, as evidenced by the documents of the Ministry of defense of China, came to the conclusion that marine waters, including, first and foremost, the Taiwan Strait, the East China and South China seas are a zone of national interests. Currently, the process of army building of China are aimed at the development of the air force and Navy, able to protect interests in sea and ocean zones.

Held in 2016 in the PLA military reform, from the point of view of Western experts, in its scope and depth comparable with the reform of the Ministry of defense in 1986, which allowed you to quickly create a forwarding formation [5].

American experts say the priority for the military-political leadership of the PRC concept mnogomernyh operations. In particular, for their comprehensive support in 2015 was a new kind of PLA - the power of strategic support using the forces and means which, from the point of view of command of the PLA, it is necessary to ensure full control over the information space.


Scheme 1. Island of Honshu (1) GUAM (2) - Saipan (3) - New Guinea (4) Pacific

By the mid-21st century China, with the substantial increase in the number of high-tech weapons, plans, when conducting joint operations actively use the advanced technology with artificial intelligence that will expedite the decision-making process and will increase the effectiveness of troops, and also strengthen the degree of integration of information resources [6].

  1. The increasing capabilities of the PLA in the rapid transfer of troops, military equipment and military goods over long distances.

In 2019 intensified flights of strategic bombers of the PLA air force "Hun-6K" in international airspace in remote marine areas of the Pacific ocean. At the same time the modernization of this type of aircraft, an advanced bomber "Hong-6N" is capable of refuelling in the air and, accordingly, has an increased flight range. Currently, China is also developing a strategic bomber "hung-20", entering into service which is planned for 2025. Its flight range will allow to reach the coast of Australia, Hawaii and the continental United States.

The aircraft carrier "Liaoning" Chinese Navy conducts periodic patrols of the Taiwan Strait and the South China sea. China plans to build its own carrier fleet consisting of four aircraft carrier battle groups, to improve the capabilities of the destroyers URO project 055 and landing helicopter dock ships project 071. At the same time China is completing the reform forces Marines Navy: increase the number of personnel, changes organizational structure, provides modern types of weapons, improve the command and control system and interaction [7].

Another important aspect, reflecting the plans of command of the PLA to increase its ability to transport troops is the process of creating China's overseas military bases and the signing of agreements with some foreign States on the use of their seaports warships, performing tasks for the protection of sea transport communications. The creation in 2008 of a military base in Djibouti, aimed at expanding the influence of China on the world stage and supporting the activities of Chinese ships in the Gulf of Aden. According to American experts, at first glance, the group of the Chinese Navy deployed in the Gulf of Aden, performed tasks for the protection of vessels sailing in the waters. In fact, China in the absence of any external threats to consolidate its presence in this region of the world, fully and without any serious concern from the international community implements the idea of the growing influence in the Indian ocean.

In foreign mass media there are publications about the plans of China to access foreign ports. Currently China by investing got the possibility of using the port of Piraeus in Greece, Gwadar in Pakistan, Hambantota in Sri Lanka; shows interest in the ports of Haifa and Ashdod in Israel, Luganville - in Vanuatu, the great Koh Kong in Cambodia [8].

In addition, China has established points of Navy bases and airfields in the disputed Islands of the archipelagos of Xisha and Nansha in the South China sea. So, here built three runways and aircraft hangars, equipped with positions of anti-ship and anti-aircraft guided missiles. It is noted that the range of the bomber "Hong-6K", based on the island of UNIDO covers the waters of the South China sea and the countries of South-East Asia.

According to the Ministry of defense, in the event of armed conflict, the leadership of China by the use of forces and means of the PLA Navy, coast guard and people's militia are able to form the most numerous in the Asia-Pacific grouping of ships/vessels with the support of air force and naval aviation PLA [9].



  1. The reform leadership of the PLA.

As a result of 2016, the reform of the PLA was abolished, the General staff and constituent management, the military district was reformed into the joint command. The leadership of the armed forces and institutions responsible for the development of military science and technology, became the prerogative of the Central military Commission (CMC). Chinese President XI Jinping on the background of the fight against corruption in the PLA all the key positions appointed most loyal to his officers.

The Chinese President also initiated the arrests of retired and accused of corruption the former Deputy Chairman of the CMC Xu Caihou (徐才厚) and Bosun (郭伯雄) and chief of joint staff of tsvs Colonel-General Fan of Fanhua (房峰辉) and head of Department of political work tsvs Colonel-General Zhang Yana (张杨) who had authority and influence among the higher military-political leadership of China. In 2016 in the framework of military reform, XI Jinping approved the procedure for the supervision and punishment of soldiers of the PLA, through the Committee on discipline of tsvs. In connection with these measures, XI Jinping not only greatly strengthened his position, but appointed to key positions in the PLA of his fellow officers that led to the strengthening and centralization of power of the President of China [10].

  1. The influence of the growth potential of the PLA in the Asia-Pacific and the Indian oceans.

The military-political leadership of the PRC believes that the next five to ten years will be a "decisive period" of the process of technological competition, the United States and China. American experts believe, if the goal is Xin Jinping will be reached before 2050, it will lead to significant geostrategic changes in the world - the United States will face equal in military and economic potential adversary (China) [11].

For most Asia-Pacific countries significant growth by 2050, China's military capabilities will not increase the risk of confrontation with him. This circumstance requires the leading States in the region and the Indian ocean to take into account two key points.

  1. The military-political leadership of the PRC understands that the PLA has no practical experience of warfare, especially in the airspace or the sea. The last time fighting China was in 1979, during the Sino-Vietnamese conflict on a limited land theater. In this situation, perhaps the initiation of China the development of local armed conflict to test the combat capabilities of the PLA. A number of experts believes that the opposing party will become Vietnam in the resolution of territorial disputes in the South China sea. Also taken into account the fact that the United States will not provide military aid to Vietnam in the absence of any arrangement between them in the sphere of security. In this scenario, China could also test their ability to transport troops to the Xisha Islands and the Nansha Islands [12].
  2. In the last five years has significantly increased China's interest in the technology of artificial intelligence in the military sphere, which can have a serious impact on model conducting future combat operations. Chinese President XI Jinping said that by 2030 it plans to make China the world center of artificial intelligence. Currently, the PLA is an active introduction of technologies in the field of artificial intelligence for analysis of the situation with the aim of providing information about situational awareness in the theater and making decisions, determining the need for adjustments of plans, coordination of actions of used forces and means [13].

By 2050, the Chinese government will adhere to the concept of waging high-tech wars. In this case, presumably, artificial intelligence will completely replace the command structure, and will be used primarily in the collection, analysis, evaluation and forecasting of the situation with the aim of providing information about theater. Experts suggest that on the one hand, will greatly facilitate and accelerate the processing of heterogeneous and complex data of situational awareness on the battlefield derived from multiple sources. On the other hand, excludes the ethical and legal aspects of warfare [14].

Chinese policymakers argue that the U.S. is not ready to accept the increasing role of China in the international arena, including significant growth in Chinese military capabilities, this is confirmed by the current aggravation of relations between the US and China, manifested in the conduct of a "trade war" [15].

Thus, the ongoing military-political leadership of the PRC plans to withdraw by the year 2050, the military potential of the country to the level of the United States individual States Asia and the Pacific and the Indian oceans, primarily the United States, Japan and India, are perceived negatively, in this connection, they will be taken to increase the military budget and the containment of China, which will lead to increased international tension.


Ruslan Bolonchuk



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