The People's Liberation Army Rocket Force: reshaping China's approach to strategic deterrence

Bates Gill, Adam Ni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is in the midst of a sweeping reform programme to significantly transform its organisation, force posture, command and control structures, and internal politics. Among the many important aspects of this effort is the establishment of the PLA Rocket Force (PLARF). Creation of the PLARF solidified China’s missile forces as a critical element of China’s evolving strategic deterrent posture, portends continued significant investment in PLARF modernisation, and points to a more concerted effort to integrate PLARF capabilities into more effective PLA-wide joint operations—all key developments in the fundamental reshaping of China’s approach to strategic deterrence. These developments will affect U.S. strategic and extended deterrence postures, U.S.-China strategic stability, allied conventional force operations, information dominance and security, critical infrastructure, and other key aspects of national security. This study details the organisational, technological, and doctrinal changes afoot for the PLARF, and analyses how—if successful—they affect U.S. and U.S-allied military strategy in the Indo-Pacific region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-180
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian Journal of International Affairs
Issue number2
Early online date22 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • China
  • military modernisation
  • military reform
  • missiles
  • People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force
  • strategic deterrence


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