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The Dragon's Teeth (Paperback)

The Chinese People's Liberation Army - Its History, Traditions, and Air, Sea and Land Capabilities in the 21st Century

World History > Asia

By Benjamin Lai
Imprint: Casemate Publishers
Pages: 320
Illustrations: 16pp photos
ISBN: 9781636240572
Published: 5th April 2022



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When Mao Zedong proclaimed The People's Republic of China in 1949, China was a poor and wrecked society after years of continuous wars. For centuries, in fact, China had been seen as a sort of plunder-zone to be invaded, and then a backwater until the late 1980s, when domestic policy brought about monumental changes. The result was that in the past quarter-century China has grown to be the second largest economy in the world, and its military has grown proportionately.   


Successive decades of economic growth have transformed China - in addition to the weapons revolution during the computer age - so that by now the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has become a modern fighting force. No longer having to rely on massed infantry attacks, it now features a formidable arsenal including nuclear submarines, ICBMs, stealth fighters, and modern battle tanks. Perhaps ominously for other maritime powers, the Chinese have also focused on beyond-the-horizon missile technology, as well as anti-aircraft systems, and have also explored the possibilities of cyber-warfare.     


What is today's PLA really like? What are its traditions and histories, and how is it armed and equipped? How does it recruit and train? This book describes some of the lesser known battles and wars the Chinese have undertaken, and the development of their key weapons systems. The United States, having opened the door to "drone warfare," have had an attentive audience for such technologies in Beijing.  The last chapter provides thoughts on how the Chinese view matters of security. It is not yet known whether foreign powers can still enforce their territorial wills on China, but future attempts will meet an increased challenge.


This book will be of interest not only to general readers but to policy-makers and militaries in the West, who may not yet realize that a new China has replaced the old.

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About Benjamin Lai

Benjamin Lai was originally from Hong Kong, but educated in the UK. He was one of the few Chinese to serve in the British Army as a commissioned officer in the 1980s in both Hong Kong and the UK. Fully bilingual, Benjamin Lai has been interested in World War II and postwar matters for many years but in recent times has developed specialization in Asian military issues with an emphasis on China. Among his previous works are The Chinese People's Liberation Army Since 1949: Ground Forces, and Hong Kong 1941–1945.

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