THE PLA IN CHINA’S FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY-MAKING: DRIVERS, MECHANISM AND INTERACTIONS
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Abstract This dissertation develops a “dynamic bargaining” thesis, in which a two-level bargaining game among three actors (the Chinese Communist Party (Party), the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and the civilian foreign affairs system) determines the level of influence the PLA exerts over China’s foreign and security policy-making since 1978. This dissertation is based on 138 interviews with active-duty and retired military officers, 125 interviews with policy-makers and analysts in China, and original Chinese-language sources and secondary documents. The dissertation divides China’s foreign and security policies into “high” policies – those that are sensitive and core national interests and require the intervention of China’s top leader – and “low” policies – those that are tactical in nature and constitute the majority of China’s foreign and security policies. The dynamics of a “reliance-control model” determine the PLA’s influence in “high” policies. The top leader’s political reliance on the PLA is the first and foremost necessary condition for such Party-military bargaining to occur. Once this necessary condition is met, the extent to which the top leader is able to establish “effective control” over the PLA helps determine the PLA’s access and hence the level of its influence. In “low” policies, the PLA’s level of influence depends on its bureaucratic bargaining with the civilian foreign affairs system, in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA or MOFA). Such bargaining has operated on the basis of four rules of the game, namely the advantage of: early entry during times of overwhelming external threats; strong allies/weak opponents; strong motivations; and supportive public opinion. The level of influence the PLA exerts in the policy-making process is also partly determined by its motivation. The PLA is a military force in transition, and its motivation to intervene during the policy-making process is determined by three sets of dynamics: inward vs. outward orientation; professionalization vs. politicization; and unity vs. inter-service rivalry. This dissertation argues that the PLA has a political orientation of being “progressive moderates” in China’s domestic politics, which contributes to its preoccupation with its internal mission and deepens the differentiation between the Party’s and military’s interest, outlook, and goal. As a result of its own evolution, the PLA is likely not seeking major armed confrontation, but may be more welcoming of continuous friction and low-intensity wars of limited scope. Advisor: David M. Lampton Secondary Reader: Kent Calder Chair: Francis Fukuyama Committee Members: Bruce G. Blair and Michael D. Swaine
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