Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2011

Chinese Military Transparency: Evaluating the 2010 Defense White Paper

Phillip C. Saunders, Ross Rustici

July 2011

Institute for National Strategic Studies


The People’s Republic of China (PRC) State Council Information Office released the seventh edition of its biennial defense white paper, “China’s National Defense in 2010,” on March 31, 2011. This document aims to communicate the latest information on China’s military development, strategy, capabilities, and intentions. China began publishing defense white papers in 1998, partly as a means of increasing transparency in response to regional concerns about the growing capabilities and actions of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Despite the systematic release of these documents, many of China’s neighbors and other regional powers continue to express concerns about China’s lack of military transparency. The Chinese maintain that they are becoming more open over time and highlight the importance of transparency about strategic intentions rather than capabilities. According to Senior Colonel Chen Zhou, the