After coming into power, Xi Jinping, Communist Party and military chief and soon to be President of China, began a series of speeches emphasizing the “China Dream,” or more specifically, the ascension of the nation as a great power through military prowess. Unlike his predecessors, within his first 100 days, Mr. Xi has already made visits to the army, air force, space program, and missile command. It is clear that under its new leadership, China is ready to exchange its traditionally defensive military efforts for a more active presence that is able to “fight and win wars.” The recent territorial dispute with Japan demonstrates that Mr. Xi is very serious about his new direction. Mr. Xi’s ultimate goal is to build the nation up as the dominant Pacific power by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party’s rise to sovereignty. This objective has a severe impact on the country’s defense and foreign policies as the PLA and PRC Navy already begin to focus on training for “real combat” situations. China’s new position has many implications for the U.S. as the two countries will likely face off in the future as they struggle to secure the role of the leading power in the Pacific.
What does China’s new emphasis on military supremacy mean for international relations with the U.S. and other great powers? Is it likely that an arms race will occur? What does potential military corruption mean for the China Dream? To ensure a growing and improving military, the defense budget must increase to purchase high-tech weaponry – is this possible given China’s predicted economic slowdown in the coming years?