In This Review

Modernizing China's Military: Progress, Problems, and Prospects
Modernizing China's Military: Progress, Problems, and Prospects
By David Shambaugh
University of California Press, 2003, 414 pp

This superb book provides an authoritative and comprehensive account of the attempt by China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) to cope with the transformation in the strategic environment brought about by the unique power and the military technologies of the United States. The book covers all aspects of military affairs, from the PLA's position in the political system to budgets and procurement issues, as well as doctrine and force structure. Shambaugh also provides a cool analysis of the difficulties China would face in a war with Taiwan. He has amassed a remarkable amount of evidence, which allows him to draw careful but confident conclusions. In general he supports the view that China is still decades behind the United States in advanced technology, and in many areas the gap is widening, although he notes the recent efforts put into ballistic missiles and information technology. His basic message to the Bush administration: Keep watching and keep talking, but don't panic.