Chinese Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping kicked off the latest round of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) reforms at a September 3, 2015 military parade. Aside from reducing the PLA’s size by 300,000 personnel, the reforms eliminated the corruption-prone general departments, adjusted the command structure to focus more on joint operations, and consolidated the theater command system. The reforms, likened by some analysts to the sweeping U.S. military changes that resulted from the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, could result in a leaner, more combat-effective PLA. This could create new operational challenges for the U.S. military in the Western Pacific, limiting U.S. ability to intervene in a crisis related to the self-governing island of Taiwan or elsewhere in the region. Do these reforms improve the PLA’s chances of defeating the U.S. military in a battle over Taiwan or the South China Sea?
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