Over the past two months, as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has rapidly rolled back its strict zero-COVID epidemic prevention policy, COVID-19 has spread rapidly throughout the country. The combination of the PRC reopening its borders to outbound travel on January 8 and the ongoing pandemic has put countries that are major travel destinations for Chinese nationals in a bind. Governments have responded differently to the situation, with some imposing testing and quarantine requirements and others declining to do so. In China, official and social media have generally lauded countries that have desisted from testing requirements and opened their doors to Chinese tourists. Thailand, in particular, has been widely celebrated. Not only did Thailand decline to impose testing requirements on inbound travelers from the PRC, but several senior Thai government ministers went to the airport to welcome the first planeload of Chinese tourists following the lifting of travel restrictions on January 8 (Guangming Daily, January 17). Scenes of smiling Thai officials and airport workers greeting the first group of arriving tourists circulated widely in Chinese media.
Since becoming China’s top leader ten years ago, General Secretary Xi Jinping has sought to sustain a three-decade effort to reform the defense industry in order to advance the development of defense technology and improve the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) capabilities. Recent reforms have focused on transforming defense science and technology (S&T) institutes into enterprise-like entities, but due to political and economic impediments, progress has been slow. This article examines the rationale for defense industry reform, assesses progress in implementation and explains difficulties encountered in the reform process.
Science and Technology, Reform, and Defense Industry
On December 9, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Indian army clashed at Yangtse along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tawang Sector in Arunachal Pradesh resulting in injuries on both sides. Following the incident, the local Indian commander held a flag meeting with his Chinese counterpart on December 11 in order to restore peace. The clash at Tawang marked the first major skirmish between the two armies in the eastern sector since the Galwan Valley clash in the western sector in Eastern Ladakh on June 15, 2020 (China Brief, July 15, 2020).
Defense Policy, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes, and Borders