Leadership Theories and Defense Reform in the People’s Republic of China

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Andras Hugyik


Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 21, Issue 1, p.25-44 (2022)


army, China, combined operation, development, intelligence, leadership theories, mission-oriented leadership, reform, socialism, strategic deterrence


The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is currently a hybrid social system that ideologically has retained the core values of the Marxist doctrine, which, unlike its predecessors, can adapt and innovate in response to changing circumstances. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and public administration underwent a series of deep reforms that enabled them to become a facilitator rather than a hindrance to development. The meritocratic leader selection system known as “selection and election,” consistent with the Confucian tradition and adopting some western leadership principles, played a significant role. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is also considering the application of Western leadership principles not typically associated with the military. However, no evidence exists that the PLA systematically seeks to apply these concepts. The PLA is likely to complete defense reform and enhance the combat capabilities of its strategic and new types of forces, establishing a high level of strategic deterrence and complex systems for conducting joint combined operations. Towards that end, PLA applies Western non-military leadership principles and a mission-oriented leadership model, considering Chinese specificity. Based on indirect Chinese, Russian, American, and Hungarian sources, the article presents contemporary Chinese socialism, analyzes the impact of political, social, economic, and defense reforms and the significance of leadership on China’s development, describes Western and Chinese leadership theories, and outlines China’s development prospects. On the future of the PRC, the author states that, unlike other communist parties that gained power with foreign help, the CCP is indigenous and has national roots. Therefore, it is unlikely to collapse due to mass discontent. More likely, the Party will continue to transform the country and itself in the coming years and continue its rule. It is conceivable, however, that this transformation will eventually lead to a top-down revolution that will gradually break down the foundations of socialism.