This Book Proves How Far China's Military Has Come (And How Far It Must Go)

War Is Boring
Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) honor guards prepare for a welcome ceremony for Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 28, 2019. Parker Song/Pool via REUTERS

War Is Boring

Security, Asia

A 1979 book is an amazing look back at Beijing’s military.

This Book Proves How Far China's Military Has Come (And How Far It Must Go)

In the days before the Internet, it was difficult to find detailed, timely information on foreign armed forces. Secretive, backward China was a particularly difficult country to assess.

The Chinese War Machine changed that. The 1979 book was, for a long time, the best look at the Chinese armed forces an ordinary person could hope to get. The authors and contributors — including a youthful Bill Sweetman—hailed from highly-regarded institutions including Sandhurst, the Warship Society, the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute, the Rand Corporation and Jane’s.

(This article by Kyle Mizokami originally appeared at War is Boring in 2014.)

And The Chinese War Machine is still useful. It’s a reminder of how far Beijing’s military has come in just 35 years. The People’s Liberation Army in The Chinese War Machine wore spinach-color army uniforms, practiced aerial tactics with toy airplanes and sailed in green coastal waters.

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