"China's War Plans Are All About Invading Taiwan."
That was then. Chinese military leaders in the recent past did place intense focus on preparing their armed forces to fight a "limited war" over Taiwan, fully expecting that the United States would enter the conflict. Many weapons systems the PLA acquired or developed, as well as the exercises it trained for, were largely aimed at fighting a technologically superior enemy -- with particular emphasis on developing tactics to keep the United States from bringing naval assets to China's shores, a strategy known as "access denial." In the past, massive annual amphibious-assault exercises, known derisively as the "million-man swim," defined the military experiences of hundreds of thousands of conscripts.
Although simulating a Chinese D-Day on Taiwan might be a tidy demonstration of the PLA's core mission, the armed forces today are developing capabilities and doctrine that will eventually enable them to protect China's expanding global interests. The PLA's Second Artillery Corps and science-and-technology units are increasingly capable in space and cyberspace operations, and they have honed the ability to launch and operate satellites to improve communications and intelligence collection. New air and naval platforms and capabilities, such as aerial refueling and new classes of ships, also increase the PLA's ability to deploy abroad.
Official Chinese military writings now pay increasing attention to a greater range of military missions, focusing not only on China's territorial integrity, but on its global interests. From oil rigs in Nigeria to a crude-oil pipeline under construction that will connect Yunnan's capital city to Burma's port of Sittwe on the Bay of Bengal, Beijing thinks it must be able to defend its people, infrastructure, and investments in some of the world's most volatile places -- much as the British did in the 1800s.