January 1, 1999
A first glance at the Chinese defense industrial complex (CDIC) suggests that it suffers from the same afflictions and has attempted the same remedies as the defense industries of other countries. The CDIC faces major declines in military procurement, problems with second and third tier suppliers, and falling employment. Attempted fixes include rationalization, consolidation and "conversion". But a closer examination shows that both the problems and solutions reached in the People’s Republic have "special Chinese characteristics". Those characteristics arise from the economic and military contexts in which the CDIC operates. It is caught up in a contradictory relationship between the policies of economic reform and the goal of "revitalizing the economy" on the one hand, and the People Liberation Army’s (PLA) attempts to modernize on the other. The developing synthesis is far from neat and contains numerous contradictions, even though the aim of both economic reform and military modernization--wealth and power--is the dream shared by Chinese modernizers from the Self-Strengtheners of the 19th century down to the current leadership.