The Council on East Asian Studies presents:
Eric Hundman, Assistant Professor of Political Science at NYU Shanghai, the Center for Global Asia and the NYU Department of Politics: “Fearing Hardships and Fatigue? Insubordination in the People’s Liberation Army, 2009-2018.”
Recent studies of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) role in Chinese politics have argued that the military remains professional and subordinated to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). However, even the PLA itself acknowledges that its soldiers sometimes resist authority. This paper compiles a new dataset of all publicly reported refusals to serve and desertions in the People’s Republic of China from 2009-2018. The reports suggest two broader conclusions. First, the PRC carefully controls the domestic narrative about insubordination in the PLA, indicating that it is more common than public reports indicate. Second, resistance to service has become an important concern for CCP and PLA leaders, though there is no evidence they fear the PLA as a whole will disobey.