Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development

A Western Perspective

China military development has become a key focus of US security policy as well as that of virtually all Asian-Pacific states. The Burke Chair is issuing a new report on the trends in Chinese strategy, military spending, and military forces based on Chinese defense white papers and other official Chinese sources; US reporting by the Department of Defense and other defense agencies; and other government sources, including Japanese and Korean defense white papers and the International Monetary Fund. The analysis also draws on the work of experts outside of government, various research centers, and NGOs.

The goal is to provide a comparison of different views and sources, contrasting Chinese and outside views and highlighting the trends where adequate data are available as well as the problems, gaps, and contradictions in various sources. It is not intended to provide a particular view of Chinese developments or policy recommendations, but rather to act as a reference that can be used in US and Chinese military dialogue and by other experts looking for a comparison of official sources and the trends in Chinese forces.

The report is entitled Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development and is available on the CSIS web site at

It has numerous maps, tables, and graphs, and twelve chapters discussing the trends and current status of key aspects of Chinese military modernization:

  • Chapter One addresses the methods and problems in assessing Chinese military developments using unclassified sources.
  • Chapter Two addresses the underlying resources for Chinese military development.
  • Chapter Three analyzes Chinese military spending.
  • Chapter Four discusses Chinese military strategy and doctrine.
  • Chapter Five addresses Chinese military organization and total personnel.
  • Chapter Six examines the broad patterns in Chinese military modernization and the role of arms imports and exports.
  • Chapter Seven examines the Chinese Army and land forces.
  • Chapter Eight discusses Chinese naval forces.
  • Chapter Nine analyzes Chinese air forces
  • Chapter Ten examines Chinese missile forces.
  • Chapter Eleven analyzes the available data on Chinese nuclear forces.
  • Chapter Twelve uses the balance in the Taiwan area to study a key aspect of Chinese contingency capabilities.

This study will be revised and updated over the coming months and issued as a CSIS E-Book. Please send any comments and suggested changes and additions to Anthony H. Cordesman at

Other key Burke Chair studies in this series include The Evolving Military Balance in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia:

Anthony H. Cordesman

Anthony H. Cordesman

Former Emeritus Chair in Strategy

Ashley Hess, Nicholas S. Yarosh