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China’s Military Rise and the Implications for European Security

11 Nov 2021 - 11:38
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China is following a typical trajectory for rising great powers in terms of its increasing willingness and ability to project power outside its region. What is the People’s Liberation Army capable of today and what will likely be its capabilities by 2035? This new HCSS report makes a broad assessment of China’s military modernization and the implications for the security of European states, providing 20+ policy recommendations to deal with China’s military rise.

It is increasingly difficult to have a dispassionate understanding of Chinese military power. For many, China is already an ideologically incompatible and unstoppable juggernaut; for others, it is unlikely to ever entirely match Western military capabilities. Also, China’s ability to project power within the South China Sea, East China Sea, and Taiwan Strait has been the focus of most analyses. As a result, there is a lack of a comprehensive assessment of the overall development of China’s military capabilities and what these will mean outside of the Western Pacific, especially for European states. 
This report addresses the gap by developing a typology based on historical examples of other rising powers. The publication goes in depth on China’s military power, provides an analysis of how it arrived at current capabilities, and the trajectory through 2035. The ultimate objective of this analytical approach is the development of an evidence-based foundation for thinking about the potential consequences of China’s military rise and European and Dutch policy options to address it. 
The main finding of the report is that China exhibits almost all of the factors that characteristically drive great power expansion outside of the region. It is following a typical rising great power trajectory in almost all respects, although it is still on an upward path, and is implementing a long-term strategy to be able to project power extra-regionally, which it is expected to be increasingly able to between now and 2035. 


Joris Teer, Strategic Analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Tim Sweijs, Director of Research at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Paul van Hooft, Senior Strategic Analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Lotje Boswinkel, Strategic Analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Jack Thompson, Senior Strategic Analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)