In the past decade, China has undergone two military high-tech reforms designed to give the country a modern fighting force. To sustain that progress, it must attract many more gung-ho young engineers like Shi, who spends most of his time working on an “informational” revolution that planners hope will one day allow them to “see” a battlefield with the same depth as the US military. “I will not do any direct fighting if there is a war, but I am contributing on the technical side,” he says. “We are all needed in the new Army.
China’s desire, often stated, is to be a great nation. Many in Beijing feel that the country’s natural right is to be the major power in Asia. But China has rarely been given high marks in global military annals. It has a “brown water” Navy that doesn’t navigate open seas. It can’t project power by sending forces abroad. It has relied on states like Russia for jet fighters, cruise missiles, and other advanced weapons.
Yet it now appears China is methodically changing this equation.