China has realised that, evolving from the People’s army to a modern, professionalised and informationised military with expeditionary capability entails reduction in teeth-to-tail ratio as well as strengthening Air and Naval forces of PLA. The ongoing downsizing of the ground forces was thus inevitable. In an article published on 2 Feb 2019 in South China Morning Post , “Why a leaner, meaner PLA must be sensitive to worries about China’s military rise” the author Collin Koh has raised very pertinent questions about PLA’s intent and how PLA is handling the socio-political fall-outs resulting from such drastic measures adopted in a telescopic time-frame. PLA’s development of capabilities within the context of broader strategic requirements needs to be watched and suitable response counter-strategy must be framed. The following key questions and their implications for Indian strategists and decision-makers need to be addressed:
- What are China’s national security strategies, and what domestic and foreign policy agendas do these strategies drive?
- What is China’s military strategy, and how does it determine PLA missions and capabilities development? How does it link to PRC national security strategy?
- What are the evolving trends in PLA capabilities and force structure?
- How would down-sizing enable PLA to wage integrated joint operations and what strategy and methodology are being adopted for ensuring development of human potential to fight and win modern and informationised war by PLA?
- How would enhancing the importance of Air Force, Navy, Rocket force and Strategic Support Forces at the cost of the Ground Forces enhance PLA capability for force projection and at the same-time its effect on organisational culture, leadership and military ethos within PLA and how would it impact PLA’s war-fighting potential?
Pillsbury in the book, “Hundred Year Marathon”, has very convincingly argued that China’s long-term strategy is a product of the stratagems of Warring States period and even today the art of war and the seven military classics have very profound impact on Chinese strategic thinking. How the requirements of modernising the military, yet retaining the Chinese traditional strategic thinking, are reconciled, would determine the efficacy of PLA in the long-run. The efficacy of PLA modernisation and transformation is incumbent as much on the hardware upgrade as on the transformation of its heart-ware.
 Accessed on 06 Feb 2019 at: https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/2184011/why-leaner-meaner-pla-must-be-sensitive-worries-about-chinas