After the establishment of the PRC, the PLA Army’s doctrinal developments in different stages largely depend on the strategic thinking of its contemporary political leaders, such as Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. This thesis will analyze the changeableness and the unchangeableness of the PLA Army’s strategy under the guidance of different political leaders in different stages.
In Mao Zedong era, the PLA Army’s doctrines experienced minor changes, but all focused on conducting a defensive operation to maintain the national security. As the highest principal of the PLA Army’s strategy in this stage, the PLA Army’s was structured using the doctrine of “people’s war” as the means to deter a war waged by its enemies. After took the power, Den Xiaoping reckoned that although the threat of a major war was remote, but the possibility of an outbreak of a limited conventional war was still high. Therefore, he began modifying Mao’s “people’s war” thinking, and the new doctrine became known as “people’s war under modern conditions”. On the one hand, Deng began establishing the linkage between the military and the national strategies. On the other hand, he initiated a military reform to modernize the PLA. Under this circumstance, the PLA Army began developing the so-called “active defense” strategy to cope with the needs of modern warfare.
As the PRC’s President, Jiang Zemin considered also that the threat of a major war was very limited. Therefore, he put the economic development as the highest national priority as most the world’s major power did. The PLA Army’s strategy was also adjusted to deal with the economic development. In order to catch up the western world, the PLA ad to focus on quality rather than the quantity, technology rather than manpower. After Hu Jintao took the office, the “peaceful rise” has become the national prioritized policy, and the military modernization and the enhancement of the fighting capability has dominated the PLA Army’s doctrinal evolvement at this stage. The Revolution of Military Affairs (RMA) plays a very important role in shaping a modern PLA Army’s, with a smaller, restructured force and the creation of the rapid reaction units.
The PLA Army’s strategy is indeed in influenced by its national strategy. Recently, it’s strategy become to focus on developing asymmetric warfare capabilities to dissuade its potential enemies. This study is aimed at the changing factors and the trend of PLA Army’s strategic evolvement. After further research, it’s found that the PLA Army’s strategic evolvement is based on different factors and is related to the abilities of maintaining its national security. In other words, the PLA Army’s strategy is attached to the national strategy as a tool to maintain the national security.