2016 Annual People's Liberation Army Conference
In October 2016, the National Bureau of Asian Research, the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) of the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), and the Department of the Army jointly convened a conference of leading experts on the Chinese military in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
The PLA has undergone remarkable transformation in recent decades, driven by steady investments in its modernization and continued emphasis on defending against threats to China’s territorial integrity. At the same time, developments in China’s external security environment—coupled with Beijing’s growing interests abroad and along its periphery—have changed PLA thinking about the strategies and necessary requirements for protecting China’s national interests. The ongoing reforms represent one of the most significant organizational changes in PLA history and raise questions about how the PLA might operate in response to existing security challenges as well as in new frontiers and emerging areas of strategic competition.
The 2016 PLA conference, “Continuity and Change in the PLA: Evolution, Adaptation, and Reform,” addressed trends and uncertainties surrounding the trajectory of the PLA’s development at a time when China’s strategic interests are becoming increasingly complex. Drawing on the lessons learned, the discussions traced the major trends in PLA evolution, recognized key inflection points that have prompted doctrine and mission adaptations, and considered how a reformed PLA could approach crises beyond China’s immediate periphery.
This conference also marked the 25th anniversary of this conference series. To celebrate this important milestone and recognize the contributions of the Carlisle PLA Conference community over the years, this year’s conference featured special remarks in addition to the keynote and panel presentations.