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The Five-Year Scan: Assessing PLA Reforms, Readiness, and Potential Indo-Pacific Contingencies

February 24, 2021 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


The Project 2049 Institute cordially invites you to the following conference: 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021
6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Location: Virtual


*****RSVP BELOW*****


(HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Viewers may join both the keynote and panelist LIVE Q&As by submitting questions to, or—if you have a YouTube account—by entering questions directly into the YouTube chat box on the event’s YouTube page. PLEASE provide your name and affiliation when submitting questions.)

Five years have passed since Chairman Xi Jinping and the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched sweeping reforms of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aimed at maximizing the Party’s control—and aim—of the metaphorical ‘gun.’ This event will serve as a platform to discuss and assess PLA reforms and modernization during the last five years. Specifically, the discussion will target the PLA’s progress, how that progress serves as an indicator of the CCP’s strategic direction, and how this has affected and will continue to impact the Indo-Pacific security architecture.

During this livestream event, hosted by Project 2049 Chairman Randall G. Schriver, we will hear remarks from our keynote speaker, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China, Chad Sbragia, followed by a distinguished panel of experts on the PLA and CCP organization and structure. The panelists will share their perspectives on the current level of readiness in the Indo-Pacific, in addition to a broader discussion on potential contingency scenarios involving the United States and its regional partners.


6:30 pm – 6:35 pm
Introduction & Opening Remarks

John Gastright Jr.
The Project 2049 Institute

The Honorable Randall G. Schriver
The Project 2049 Institute

6:35 pm – 6:50 pm
Keynote Speaker

Chad Sbragia
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs

6:50 pm – 7:00 pm
Keynote Q&A

7:00 pm – 7:40 pm
Panel Discussion

Kim Fassler
China Strategic Focus Group, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

Katherine Koleski
Defense Innovation Unit

Taniguchi Tomohiko
Former Special Adviser to Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s Cabinet

Mark Stokes
The Project 2049 Institute

7:40 pm – 8:00 pm
Panelist Q&A

This event will stream live.
Follow @Project2049 and #P2049Live on Twitter for more analysis.


Randall G. Schriver is Chairman of the Board at The Project 2049 Institute. Most recently, Chairman Schriver served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs from 8 January 2018 to 31 December 2019. Prior to his confirmation as Assistant Secretary, Chairman Schriver was a founding partner of Armitage International LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in international business development and strategies. He was also a founder of the Project 2049 Institute, and served as President and CEO. Previously, Chairman Schriver served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. From 2001 to 2003, he served as Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of State. From 1994 to 1998, he worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, including as the senior official responsible for the day-to-day management of U.S. bilateral relations with the People’s Liberation Army and the bilateral security and military relationships with Taiwan. Prior to his civilian service, he served as an active duty Navy Intelligence Officer from 1989 to 1991, including a deployment in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. After active duty, he served in the Navy Reserves for nine years, including as Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and an attaché at U.S. Embassy Beijing and U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar. Chairman Schriver has won numerous military and civilian awards from the U.S. government and was presented while at the State Department with the Order of the Propitious Clouds by the President of Taiwan for service promoting U.S.-Taiwan relations. Chairman Schriver received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Williams College and a Master of Arts degree from Harvard University.

Chad Sbragia served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs within the Office of the Secretary of Defense.  In this capacity, he was responsible for advising senior leadership within the Department of Defense on all policy matters pertaining to the development and implementation of defense strategies, plans, policies, and bilateral security relations for China. Previously, Mr. Sbragia served as the Director of the China Research Group for the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served as a principal advisor on China to the Deputy Commandant for Information and Director of Intelligence. Prior to serving as a Director with the Marines, Mr. Sbragia served as the Deputy Director of the China Strategic Focus Group, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, from 2011 to 2018, where he piloted strategic initiatives and the China Strategic Roundtable.  He also served as the Country Director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia under the J5 Strategic Planning and Policy Directorate from 2010-2011. Mr. Sbragia served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1985-2012, first as a Combat Engineer and later as an Infantry Officer and China Foreign Area Officer, where he led Marines up through the Battalion level and deployed across the Middle East, Africa, and the Indo-Pacific.  This period includes assignment as the U.S. Marine Attaché, U.S. Embassy Beijing, where he steered U.S.-China military relations and negotiated bilateral agreements on recovery of U.S. personnel and the Defense Telephone Link. Mr. Sbragia attended Arizona State University, the Naval Postgraduate School, the Defense Language Institute, and studied Chinese at Capital Normal University in Beijing.

Kim Fassler is a Senior Analyst at the China Strategic Focus Group at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The Group advises U.S. military leaders on Chinese strategy, decision making, and military doctrine and aims to enhance the Defense Department’s strategic understanding of China through research and other initiatives. Kim has worked for the Department of Defense since 2011. From 2016-2019, she served in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in the Office of the Defense Attaché. Prior to that, she was an analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Kim has an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), including graduate coursework in Mandarin at the Hopkins Nanjing Center on a Boren Fellowship, and a B.A. from Williams College.

Katherine Koleski is currently a Program Analyst at the Defense Innovation Unit, where she assesses the impact of proposed U.S. policy, regulations, and statutes on the Defense Innovation Unit and the dual-use innovation ecosystem. Prior to this role, she was a Lead Business Analyst at JAB Innovation Solutions. Ms. Koleski previously served as the Research Director for the Research Working Group and a Policy Analyst for the Economic & Trade team at the congressionally-created U.S.-China Economic & Security Review Commission (USCC). In these roles, she managed the Research Working Group’s contracted and staff research and regularly provided analysis to Congressional members and staff related to China-Latin American relations, China’s industrial policies, and China’s pursuit of cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, quantum information science, and 5G. Ms. Koleski earned a Bachelor of Arts from Colby College and her Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. She has advanced proficiency in both Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. Ms. Koleski has published several articles on China that include: The 13th Five-Year Plan, China’s Engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean, The New Banks in Town: Chinese Finance in Latin America, USCC Backgrounder: China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, among others.

Taniguchi Tomohiko is Professor at the Keio University Graduate School of System Design and Management (SDM), teaching international political economy and Japanese diplomacy. He was also Special Adviser to Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s Cabinet until Mr. Abe stepped down as prime minister on 16 September 2020. Between February 2013 and March 2014, he was Councillor, Prime Minister’s Office. Throughout the period of more than 90 consecutive months, his responsibilities included writing foreign-policy speeches for Mr. Abe. After spending 20 years with Nikkei Business, a weekly magazine, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2005 as Deputy Press Secretary and Deputy Director General for Public Diplomacy. Until he left the ministry three years later, he addressed the English-speaking press and wrote speeches for then Foreign Minister Aso Taro and other leaders including then Prime Minister Abe. For five years until 2013, he was Executive Adviser to the then Chairman of the Central Japan Railway Company, Kasai Yoshiyuki, while holding visiting professorships at Keio SDM and Meiji University School of Global Japanese Studies. Dr. Taniguchi holds an LL.B. from the University of Tokyo, a Doctorate in national security from Takushoku University, and has authored or co-authored more than ten books on international affairs.

Mark Stokes is Executive Director of the Project 2049 Institute. In addition to Taiwan issues, Mark’s research focus includes Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force, defense industry, military and political leadership, and cross-Strait relations. Mark has served in a variety of military and private sector positions. A 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran, he served in intelligence, planning, and policy positions. From 1984-1989, he was assigned to the Philippines and West Berlin. After graduate school and Chinese language training, Mark served as assistant air attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing from 1992 to 1995. From 1995 to May 1997, he was assigned as a strategic planner within the U.S. Air Force Plans and Operations Directorate. Between 1997 and 2004, he served as Senior Country Director for China and Taiwan in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. After retiring from military service, he worked in the private sector on Taiwan for more than three years. Mark joined Project 2049 in 2008. He holds a BA from Texas A&M University and graduate degrees in international relations and Asian studies from Boston University and the Naval Postgraduate School. He has working proficiency in Mandarin Chinese.


February 24, 2021
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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The Project 2049 Institute
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