Military Power and Policy in Asian States

Being a part of Chinese social reformation, their military forces which is known as the People’s Liberation Army was a great help in reconstructing China’s political and economic condition. During the widespread flood of autumn 1954, troops in East China were reported to have saved 10,000 live digging the earth, building breaches in the dykes, and draining water from the land. Other than that, the official in Beijing have long stressed that economic development must take precedence over military modernization. Defense received the lowest priority in the so called four modernizations when drafted during the late 1970’s.

It is not surprising for them to put modernization in their last priority for their military force was already stable during that time. From the earliest month of communist rule, specific military organizations have continued to devote their energies principally to political, economic, and administrative responsibilities. During that time, their soldiers had contributed to the rehabilitation of China. They assisted in land distribution, setting up state farm, supporting collectivization of industry and agriculture and providing disaster relief.

As the military arm of the Chinese Communist Party, their two most important missions is to guarantee the internal security of the PRC and defending it against external attack. Because China is known for its billion of population, they took advantage of their human resources for military purpose. The ‘everyone soldier movement which was launched in the autumn of 1958 during the first months of the great leap forward perhaps the most ambitious military enterprise in the history of mankind; 200 million men and women of predominantly agricultural population were to be transformed to an ocean of soldier.

Rather than being confined to a very limited range of possible actions, Chinese military behavior has proven highly adopted and varied. Its purpose is to ensure their victory in every battle and as form military preparedness. For that militia became popular in Chinese military forces. The militia is defined as a popular military organization, recruited on voluntary and democratic basis, whose members are not divorced from production. This means those militias were composed of ordinary Chinese people.

Many militiamen, members of the self defense corps, and ordinary peasants were drafted away from home and employed in servicing transport, building defense work, maintaining supply and communication lines to the front, and providing first-aid stretcher-bearing squads… So the militia was still seen as an elite organization, acting both as a ‘spearhead’ in social reform and as a reservoir of trained manpower. In terms of PLA’s contribution to China’s economic development, we can say that they contributed a lot in terms of the reconstruction of the new China.

Aside from being responsible for bring the CCP to power during 1940’s, they also intervened in China’s domestic politics on numerous occasion to protect the interest of CCP. Hence, the political stability of China today is a product of PLA’s intervention. Although the military rule in China had caused positive implication on Chinese politics and economy, still there are negative implications. As their military forces gained political power, friction occurs between military officers and civilian people.

One important source of friction was the wide differential between the living standard of the officer’s families and of the remainder of the civilian population. Since 1955, when the PLA has adopted the salary system instead of paying wages in the kind, the numbers of officer dependants who joined them at their station increased by 150 percent. This created a demand for housing, schools, and supplies which naturally give rise to resentment among the civilian population. This means that military rule in China’s politics is not perfect as it may seem.

Just like in Burma, some military officers are also abusing their power. But we can say that it is part of the reality of life. Nothing in this world is perfect even the most powerful political armies no matter how good their intention is. As a conclusion, let us compare and contrast the implication of military power in those two countries. For Burma, the rise of military power in their country was a start of their agony. Although the intentions of their military leaders were good, still too much of their power had led them to exploit civilians.

Military rule in Burma only lead to political instability and excessive human rights violation. On the other hand, military rule in China became a fundamental part in rebuilding their nation. Military power in China is just a product of shameful defeats and traumatic exploitation of other countries. As a result, military rule had a positive influence in their political and economic situation. We can say that implication of military rule in a country still depends on the motive and character of its military leaders. As long as their intentions are pure, they can influence their nation in a positive way.


Books DUPUY, Trevor Nevitt. Asiatic land Battles Allied Victories in China and Burma. Franklin Watts Inc. 1963 GITTINGS, John. The Role of the Chinese Army. Oxford University Press. 1967. HICKEY, Dennis Van Vranken. The Armies of East Asia: China, Taiwan, Japan and the Koreas. Lynne Reiner Publishers. 2001. POLLACKS, Jonathan. ‘China as Military Power’, Military Power and Policy in Asian States: China, India, and Japan. Westview Press. 1980. SEGAL, Gerald. Chinese Defence Policy. Macmillan Press LTD. 1984