China’s military is going global. In the coming decade, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could be well-positioned to influence events and conduct a wide range of missions, including limited warfighting, beyond the Western Pacific. The United States and its close allies, who have enjoyed largely unobstructed access to the world’s oceans for the last three decades, will need to adjust to new military realities as the PLA makes its presence felt in faraway theaters.
In this study, Senior Fellow Toshi Yoshihara and Research Fellow Jack Bianchi argue that a deep study of China’s weaknesses as they relate to its worldwide ambitions is required to formulate an effective allied response. These weaknesses offer insights into the costs that Beijing will have to pay to go global. Importantly, the United States and its close allies enjoy agency over certain Chinese weaknesses, furnishing them leverage that, if exercised, could yield strategic dividends. The report concludes with a range of allied options that exploit China’s weaknesses to constrain and complicate the PLA’s global expansion.