Xiaobing Li's comprehensive examination of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) offers new insights into the military's central place in modern Chinese society. "A History of the Modern Chinese Army" goes beyond the usual Western assessments of the Chinese military "threat" and also expands on the politically constricted scholarship of native Chinese military historians. Li offers a sweeping yet thorough study of modern Chinese armed forces in the context of the nation's cultural traditions, its Communist revolution, and recent technological innovations that have radically transformed all aspects of Chinese society. Grounding the text in both newly released archival documents and the personal testimonies of more than two hundred PLA soldiers, Li adopts military modernization as his central theme. Li links the modernization of the military to China's rapid growth as a major industrial producer and its growing power in the international economy. Openness to political reforms is necessary, he argues, to ensure China's continued progress toward building one of the world's most advanced professional military forces.
Li's analysis thus sheds new light on China's achievement and maintenance of its current status as a rising global power.
Xiaobing Li, professor of history and director of the Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma, is coauthor of Voices from the Korean War: Personal Stories of American, Korean, and Chinese Soldiers. He served in the People's Liberation Army in China.