Professional Hubris: Chinese Officers, the United States and a Failure of Army Building, 1942-1955 Open Access

The core historical argument presented in this dissertation is that Chinese military officers within the GMD military were able to create a depoliticized military institution, develop foreign partnerships and define a distinct military officer identity to create a true "national" army for the first time in Chinese history during the years 1942-1955. These normative ideas, expressed most articulately by General Sun Liren, were able to achieve many of the status objectives of military officers. The process by which Chinese military officers selectively adopted ideas that supported their professional claims to jurisdiction over the management of violence strongly supports the conception of normative isomorphism where change is driven by desires for status and respect. Chinese military officers built on fifty years of Chinese military thought and foreign ideas to develop a conception of a Chinese Army that was structured to represent aspirations of China as a world power. The aspirations of Chinese officers align closely with models of organizational theory that highlight enduring patterns of professional development and global military trends. Throughout this process, the Unites States played a key role in introducing concepts and providing support to military officers but was never able to decisively shape the GMD/ROC military. The failure of the Chinese "army-building" project was not due to a lack of organizational, intellectual or professional development but because of a renewed politicization of military forces and a purge of key military leaders in 1955. Ultimately, the power of ideas, be it ideas of professional competence articulated by Sun Liren or political loyalty developed by Chiang Ching-kuo, and the ability to mobilize supporters of these ideas mattered far more than foreign advice or equipment.

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