In a recent conversation among defence experts on ‘The OSINT Bunker‘ podcast, China’s military capabilities and global logistics were put under the spotlight following the Sudan crisis.
In Season 5, Episode 5 of the podcast ‘Countries in Crisis’, defence experts discuss the ongoing civil war in Sudan and the Khartoum Airlift, updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the ongoing crisis in Haiti and its impact on the rest of South America.
The discussions highlighted the limitations of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in executing complex evacuations, as compared to their Western counterparts.
One expert, @All_Source_News, stated, “I think a lot of observers were looking to see, okay, is this sort of the moment where China deploys military forces substantially to do an evacuation, because they have a military presence in Djibouti? And they’ve participated in the anti-piracy coalitions since the early 2010s.”
However, he added, it was during the Sudan crisis that “we saw ships of the PLA Navy deployed to the port of Sudan, right, forcing Chinese citizens to basically drive all the way and even their embassy to drive all the way to the port of Sudan to launch that evacuation.”
DefenceGeek (Jon) replied, “We’ve witnessed the US and many of the Western Allies having to evacuate embassies in the likes of Afghanistan, and Iraq. And we’ve seen it in Ukraine and so on in the last just the last few years. Whereas it’s fair to say China hasn’t really had something as significant as this to deal with before.”
The conversation revealed that China’s reliance on naval forces for evacuation, instead of air operations like the US and France, showcases the PLA’s limited capabilities in handling such crises. @All_Source_News emphasised that “the Sudan crisis should cause some pause, and acknowledgement that the PLA is nowhere near the capabilities that a lot of Western militaries have, and executing very complex embassy evacuations and citizen evacuations.”
DefenceGeek further elaborated, “your point about people overestimating the PLA’s military capability is a very, very good point, because it’s something we’ve already seen with Russia, we had this genuine thought process that Russia was a very capable and very competent military for so long. And the last year of fighting in Ukraine is very much showed that perhaps that wasn’t the case.”
The conversation has raised concerns regarding China’s focus and capabilities, especially for countries like Taiwan, which are witnessing increased Chinese military buildup in the region.
DefenceGeek asked, “How much of a threat really is China? And if they can’t even mount an evacuation operation by air in the way that the US and France and so on have? Where is their focus on what really is their capability?”
While the PLA’s limitations in the Sudan crisis may not necessarily reflect their overall combat capabilities, it is essential to reassess and better understand China’s true military potential and its implications on global security.