* China has spent decades upgrading and modernizing its military, adding new, more sophisticated gear and expanding training.
* Despite that work and investment, China’s armed forces still lag behind the US in terms of actually putting that equipment and training to use in combat.
February 1979 was the last time China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was engaged in a large-scale war. In that conflict, a month-long invasion of Vietnam, the PLA suffered such high casualties, despite having a numerical advantage, that its overall performance is considered rather lackluster.
While the true number of casualties from both sides may never be definitively known (some Western estimates put Chinese losses as high as 26,000 killed and over 30,000 wounded), it was clear that the PLA was at a very low level of sophistication.
Since that war, PLA modernization has been a top priority for every Chinese leader, especially current President Xi Jinping. More than 40 years later, those modernization efforts are bearing fruit; the PLA is now recognized as one of the strongest militaries in the world.
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WNU Editor: Every veteran has told me the same thing. You can’t beat combat experience.