People's Liberation Army

People's Liberation Army

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The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is the unified military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 organization of all land
Army
An army An army An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" (feminine), in the broadest sense, is the land-based military of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps...

, sea
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

, strategic missile and air force
Air force
An air force, also known in some countries as an air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military organization that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army, navy or...

s of the People's Republic of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 arm of the Communist Party of China
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

 (CPC). The People's Liberation Army's insignia
Insignia
Insignia or insigne pl -nia or -nias : a symbol or token of personal power, status or office, or of an official body of government or jurisdiction...

 consists of a roundel with a red star bearing the Chinese character
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

s for "Eight One", referring to August 1 , the date of the 1927 Nanchang Uprising
Nanchang Uprising
The Nanchang Uprising was the first major Kuomintang-Communist engagement of the Chinese Civil War, in order to counter the anti-communist purges by the Nationalist Party of China....

.

The PLA is the world's largest military force, with approximately 3 million members (see List of countries by number of total troops), and has the world's largest (active) standing army
Standing army
A standing army is a professional permanent army. It is composed of full-time career soldiers and is not disbanded during times of peace. It differs from army reserves, who are activated only during wars or natural disasters...

, with approximately 2.25 million members (see alphabetical List of countries by number of active troops). The PLA comprises five main service branches, consisting of the PLA Ground Force
People's Liberation Army Ground Force
The People's Liberation Army Ground Force is the land-based service branch of the People's Liberation Army. Its regular forces consist of 1.7 million personnel, with an additional 800,000 personnel in reserve, making it the largest active standing army in the world, and second largest in terms of...

, PLA Navy
People's Liberation Army Navy
The People's Liberation Army Navy is the naval branch of the People's Liberation Army , the military of the People's Republic of China. Until the early 1990s, the navy performed a subordinate role to the PLA Land Forces. Since then, it has undergone rapid modernisation...

 (PLAN), PLA Air Force
People's Liberation Army Air Force
The People's Liberation Army Air Force is the aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army, the military of the People's Republic of China...

 (PLAAF), Second Artillery Corps
Second Artillery Corps
The Second Artillery Corps is the strategic missile forces of the People's Republic of China. The SAC is the component of the People's Liberation Army that controls China's nuclear ballistic and conventional missiles. China's total nuclear arsenal size is estimated to be about 240 nuclear weapons...

 (strategic nuclear or missile force), and the PLA Reserve Force. The People's Armed Police
People's Armed Police
The People's Armed Police , officially Chinese People's Armed Police Force is a paramilitary or gendarmerie force primarily responsible for civilian policing and fire rescue duties in the People's Republic of China, as well as provide support to PLA during wartime.In contrast to public security...

 (PAP), a Chinese paramilitary force under the dual leadership of the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of Public Security
Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China
The Ministry of Public Security , is the principal police and security authority of the mainland of the People's Republic of China and the government agency that exercises oversight over and is ultimately responsible for day-to-day law enforcement...

, is sometimes confused as a branch of the PLA (both the PLA and the PAP are under the lead of Central Military Commission).

Military service
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

 is compulsory, in theory, for all men who attain the age of 18; women may register for duty in the medical, veterinary, and other technical services at ages as young as 14. However, a draft in China has never been enforced due to large numbers of volunteers from China's huge population. Demobilized servicemen are carried in a ready reserve
Military reserve force
A military reserve force is a military organization composed of citizens of a country who combine a military role or career with a civilian career. They are not normally kept under arms and their main role is to be available to fight when a nation mobilizes for total war or to defend against invasion...

, which is reinforced by a standby reserve of veterans and by the militia.

The PLA is formally under the command of the Central Military Commission of the CPC; there is also an identical commission in the government, but it has no clear independent functions. The Ministry of National Defense
Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China
The Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China is a ministry under the State Council. It is headed by the Minister of National Defense. The MND was set up according to a decision adopted by the 1st Session of the 1st National People's Congress in 1954...

, which operates under the State Council
State Council of the People's Republic of China
The State Council of the People's Republic of China , which is largely synonymous with the Central People's Government after 1954, is the chief administrative authority of the People's Republic of China. It is chaired by the Premier and includes the heads of each governmental department and agency...

, does not exercise any authority over the PLA and is far less powerful than the Central Military Commission (CMC). The ministry assures continuing CPC control over the armed forces, and its primary role is that of a liaison office with foreign militaries. The political and military leadership have made a concerted effort to create a professional military force restricted to national defense and to the provision of assistance in domestic economic construction
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

 and emergency relief. This conception of the role of the PLA requires the promotion of specialized officer
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

s who can understand modern weaponry
Military technology
Military technology is the collection of equipment, vehicles, structures and communication systems that are designed for use in warfare. It comprises the kinds of technology that are distinctly military in nature and not civilian in application, usually because they are impractical in civilian...

 and handle combined arms
Combined arms
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects...

 operations. Troops around the country are stationed in seven military regions and more than 20 military district
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

s.

Chairman Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao is the current Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China. He has held the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004, succeeding Jiang...

 has defined the missions of the PLA as:
  • Consolidate the ruling status of the Communist Party
  • Help ensure China's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and domestic security in order to continue national development
  • Safeguard China's expanding national interests
  • Help maintain world peace

History


The People's Liberation Army was founded on 1 August 1927 during the Nanchang Uprising
Nanchang Uprising
The Nanchang Uprising was the first major Kuomintang-Communist engagement of the Chinese Civil War, in order to counter the anti-communist purges by the Nationalist Party of China....

 when troops of the Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 (KMT) rebelled under the leadership of Zhu De
Zhu De
Zhu De was a Chinese militarist, politician, revolutionary, and one of the pioneers of the Chinese Communist Party. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, in 1955 Zhu became one of the Ten Marshals of the People's Liberation Army, of which he is regarded as the founder.-Early...

, He Long
He Long
He Long was a Chinese military leader. He rose to the rank of Marshal and Vice Premier after the founding of the People's Republic of China.-Early life:He Long was a member of the Tujia ethnic group...

, Ye Jianying
Ye Jianying
Ye Jianying was a Chinese communist general and the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress from 1978 to 1983.-Biography:...

 and Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

 shortly after the end of the first Kuomintang–Communist alliance. They were then known as the Chinese Red Army . Between 1934 and 1935, the Red Army survived several campaigns led against it by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

 and engaged in the Long March
Long March
The Long March was a massive military retreat undertaken by the Red Army of the Communist Party of China, the forerunner of the People's Liberation Army, to evade the pursuit of the Kuomintang army. There was not one Long March, but a series of marches, as various Communist armies in the south...

.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 from 1937 to 1945, the Communist military forces were nominally integrated into the National Revolutionary Army
National Revolutionary Army
The National Revolutionary Army , pre-1928 sometimes shortened to 革命軍 or Revolutionary Army and between 1928-1947 as 國軍 or National Army was the Military Arm of the Kuomintang from 1925 until 1947, as well as the national army of the Republic of China during the KMT's period of party rule...

 of the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 forming the Eighth Route Army
Eighth Route Army
The Eighth Route Army was the larger of the two major Chinese communist forces that formed a unit of the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China which fought the Japanese from 1937 to 1945. In contrast to most of the National Revolutionary Army, it was controlled by the Communist...

 and the New Fourth Army
New Fourth Army
The New Fourth Army was a unit of the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China established in 1937. In contrast to most of the National Revolutionary Army, it was controlled by the Communist Party of China and not by the ruling Kuomintang. The New Fourth Army and the Eighth Route Army...

 units. During this time, these two military groups primarily used guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

, fought a few battles with the Japanese while consolidating their ground by annexing nationalist troops and paramilitary forces behind the Japanese lines.

After the end of the Sino-Japanese War, the Communist Party merged the two military groups and renamed the multi-million strong force the "People's Liberation Army" and eventually won the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

. During the 1950s, the PLA with Soviet help transformed itself from a peasant army into a modern one. The PLA also contained many National Revolutionary Army
National Revolutionary Army
The National Revolutionary Army , pre-1928 sometimes shortened to 革命軍 or Revolutionary Army and between 1928-1947 as 國軍 or National Army was the Military Arm of the Kuomintang from 1925 until 1947, as well as the national army of the Republic of China during the KMT's period of party rule...

 units and Generals who had defected to the PLA. Ma Hongbin
Ma Hongbin
Ma Hongbin , was a prominent muslim Ma clique warlord in China during the Republic of China era. He was the acting Chairman of Gansu and Ningxia Provinces for a short period.- Life :...

 and his son Ma Dunjing (1906-1972) were the only two Muslim Generals who led a Muslim unit, the 81st corps to ever serve in the PLA. Han Youwen
Han Youwen
Han Youwen was an ethnic Salar Muslim General in the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China. He was born in Hualong Hui Autonomous County in Qinghai province.-Career:...

, a Salar Muslim General, also defected to the PLA. In November 1950, the PLA or People's Volunteer Army
People's Volunteer Army
The Chinese People's Volunteer Army was the armed forces deployed by the People's Republic of China during the Korean War. Although all units in the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army belonged to the People's Liberation Army , the People's Volunteer Army was separately constituted in order to...

 intervened in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 as United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 forces under General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 approached the Yalu River
Yalu River
The Yalu River or the Amnok River is a river on the border between North Korea and the People's Republic of China....

. Under the weight of this offensive, Chinese forces drove MacArthur's forces out of North Korea and captured Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

, but were subsequently pushed back to a line just north of the 38th Parallel
38th parallel north
The 38th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 38 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean...

. That war also served as a catalyst for the rapid modernization of the PLAAF. In 1962, the PLA also fought India in the Sino-Indian War
Sino-Indian War
The Sino-Indian War , also known as the Sino-Indian Border Conflict , was a war between China and India that occurred in 1962. A disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role. There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan...

 successfully neutralizing Indian defenses and achieving all objectives.

Prior to the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, military region commanders tended to remain in post for long periods. As the PLA took a stronger role in politics, this began to be seen as something of a threat to party (or, at least, civilian) control of the gun. The longest serving military region commanders were Xu Shiyou in the Nanjing Military Region (1954–74), Yang Dezhi in the Jinan Military Region (1958–74), Chen Xilian in the Shenyang Military Region
Shenyang Military Region
The Shenyang Military Region |16th Group Army]], with three divisions, including an armoured division, in Jilin, the 23rd Group Army headquartered at Harbin, and the 39th Group Army in Liaoning.-Current Officers:* Zhang Youxia , since October 2007...

 (1959–73), and Han Xianchu in the Fuzhou Military Region (1960–74).

Establishment of a professional military force equipped with modern weapons and doctrine was the last of the Four Modernizations
Four Modernizations
The Four Modernizations were goals, set forth by Zhou Enlai in 1963, to strengthen the fields of agriculture, industry, national defense, science and technology...

 announced by Zhou Enlai and supported by Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician, statesman, and diplomat. As leader of the Communist Party of China, Deng was a reformer who led China towards a market economy...

. In keeping with Deng's mandate to reform, the PLA has demobilized millions of men and women since 1978 and has introduced modern methods in such areas as recruitment
Military recruitment
Military recruitment is the act of requesting people, usually male adults, to join a military voluntarily. Involuntary military recruitment is known as conscription. Many countries that have abolished conscription use military recruiters to persuade people to join, often at an early age. To...

 and manpower, strategy
Military strategy
Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. Derived from the Greek strategos, strategy when it appeared in use during the 18th century, was seen in its narrow sense as the "art of the general", 'the art of arrangement' of troops...

, and education and training
Military education and training
Military education and training is a process which intends to establish and improve the capabilities of military personnel in their respective roles....

. In 1979, the PLA fought Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 over a border skirmish in the Sino-Vietnamese War
Sino-Vietnamese War
The Sino–Vietnamese War , also known as the Third Indochina War, known in the PRC as and in Vietnam as Chiến tranh chống bành trướng Trung Hoa , was a brief but bloody border war fought in 1979 between the People's Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam...

 where it was reported by Western media that China lost more than 20,000 soldiers. Both sides claimed victory.

In the 1980s, China shrunk its military considerably to free up resources for economic development
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

, resulting in the relative decline in resources devoted to the PLA. Following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

, ideological correctness was temporarily revived as the dominant theme in Chinese military affairs. Reform and modernization have today resumed their position as the PLA's priority objectives, although the armed forces' political loyalty to the CPC has remained a leading concern. Another area of concern to the political leadership was the PLA's involvement in civilian economic activities. These activities were thought to have impacted PLA readiness and has led the political leadership to attempt to divest the PLA from its non-military business interests.

Beginning in the 1980s, the PLA tried to transform itself from a land-based power, centred on a vast ground force, to a smaller, mobile, high-tech one capable of mounting operations beyond its borders. The motivation for this was that a massive land invasion by Russia was no longer seen as a major threat, and the new threats to China are seen to be a declaration of independence by Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, possibly with assistance from the United States, or a confrontation over the Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
The Spratly Islands are a group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays and islands in the South China Sea. The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines and Malaysia , about one third of the way from there to southern Vietnam. They comprise less than four square kilometers of land...

.

In 1985, under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is the highest authority within the Communist Party of China. Its approximately 350 members and alternates are selected once every five years by the National Party Congress....

 and the CMC, the PLA changed from being constantly prepared to "hit early, strike hard and to fight a nuclear war" to developing the military in an era of peace. The PLA reoriented itself to modernization
Modernization
In the social sciences, modernization or modernisation refers to a model of an evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society. The teleology of modernization is described in social evolutionism theories, existing as a template that has been generally followed by...

, improving its fighting ability, and to become a world-class force.

Deng Xiaoping stressed that the PLA needed to focus more on quality rather than on quantity. The decision of the Chinese government in 1985 to reduce the size of the military by one million was completed by 1987. Staffing in military leadership was cut by about 50 percent. During the Ninth Five Year Plan (1996–2000) the PLA was reduced by a further 500,000. The PLA had also been expected to be reduced by another 200,000 by 2005. The PLA has focused on increasing mechanization and informatization so as to be able to fight a high-intensity war.

Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin is a former Chinese politician, who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, and as Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005...

 in 1990 called on the military to "meet political standards, be militarily competent, have a good working style, adhere strictly to discipline, and provide vigorous logistic support" .

The 1991 Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 provided the Chinese leadership with a stark realization that the PLA was an oversized, obsolescent force. The possibility of a militarized Japan has also been a continuous concern to the Chinese leadership since the late 1990s. In addition, China's military leadership has been reacting to and learning from the successes and failures of the American military
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 during the Kosovo War
Kosovo War
The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...

, the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

, the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

, and the ongoing Iraqi insurgency
Iraqi insurgency
The Iraqi Resistance is composed of a diverse mix of militias, foreign fighters, all-Iraqi units or mixtures opposing the United States-led multinational force in Iraq and the post-2003 Iraqi government...

. All these lessons inspired China to transform PLA from a military based on quantity to one based on quality.

Chairman Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin is a former Chinese politician, who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, and as Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005...

 officially made a "Revolution in Military Affairs
Revolution in Military Affairs
The military concept of Revolution in Military Affairs is a theory about the future of warfare, often connected to technological and organizational recommendations for change in the United States military and others....

" (RMA) part of the official national military strategy in 1993 in order to modernize the Chinese armed forces
Modernization of the People's Liberation Army
The military modernization program of the People's Liberation Army which began in the late 1970s had three major focuses. First, under the political leadership of Deng Xiaoping, the military became disengaged from civilian politics and, for the most part, resumed the political quiescence that...

. A goal of the RMA is to transform the PLA into a force capable of winning what it calls "local wars under high-tech conditions" rather than a massive, numbers-dominated ground-type war. The Chinese military planners call for short decisive campaigns, limited in both their geographic scope and their political goals. In contrast to the past, more attention is given to reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

, mobility, and deep reach. This new vision has shifted resources towards the navy and air force. PLA is also actively preparing for space warfare
Space warfare
Space warfare is combat that takes place in outer space, i.e. outside the atmosphere. Space warfare therefore includes ground-to-space warfare, such as attacking satellites from the Earth, as well as space-to-space warfare, such as satellites attacking satellites.It does not include the use of...

 and cyber-warfare
Cyber-warfare
Cyberwarfare refers to politically motivated hacking to conduct sabotage and espionage. It is a form of information warfare sometimes seen as analogous to conventional warfare although this analogy is controversial for both its accuracy and its political motivation.Government security expert...

.

For the past 10 to 20 years, the PLA has acquired some advanced weapons systems from Russia, including Sovremenny class destroyers, Sukhoi Su-27
Sukhoi Su-27
The Sukhoi Su-27 is a twin-engine supermanoeuverable fighter aircraft designed by Sukhoi. It was intended as a direct competitor for the large United States fourth generation fighters, with range, heavy armament, sophisticated avionics and high manoeuvrability...

 and Sukhoi Su-30
Sukhoi Su-30
The Sukhoi Su-30 is a twin-engine, two-seat military aircraft developed by Russia's Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. It is a multirole fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.The Su-30 started out as an internal development project in the Sukhoi Su-27 family...

 aircraft, and Kilo-class
Kilo class submarine
The Kilo class is the NATO reporting name for a naval diesel-electric submarine that is made in Russia. The original version of the vessels were designated Project 877 Paltus in Russia. There is also a more advanced version, designated as Improved Kilo in the west, and Project 636 Varshavyanka in...

 diesel-electric submarines. It has also completed several new destroyers and frigates including 2 AAW Type 052C class guided missile destroyers. In addition, the PLAAF has built an indigenous J-10
Chengdu J-10
The Chengdu J-10 is a multirole fighter aircraft designed and produced by the People's Republic of China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation for the People's Liberation Army Air Force...

 fighter aircraft. The PLA launched the new Jin class
Type 094 submarine
The Type 094 is a new class of ballistic missile submarine developed by the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy. The first-of-class was constructed at Huludao Shipyard in Huludao, Liaoning Province and launched in July 2004...

 nuclear submarines on 3 December 2004 capable of launching nuclear warheads that could strike targets across the Pacific Ocean.

In August 2010, PLA Daily
PLA Daily
PLA Daily is China-based media outlet for the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China.It covers news stories relating to the PLA and other military affairs...

 suggested that Chinese military strategy was out of date, and that China must "audaciously learn from the experience of the information cultures of foreign militaries"

Major wars and events

  • 1927 to 1949: Chinese Civil War
    Chinese Civil War
    The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

     against the Kuomintang
    Kuomintang
    The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

     (KMT) as the Chinese Red Army.
  • 1937 to 1945: World War II
    Second Sino-Japanese War
    The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

     against the Empire of Japan
    Empire of Japan
    The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

    .
  • 1949: Yangtze incident (the battle against British warships on the Yangtze river).
  • 1950–1951: Invasion of Tibet
    Battle of Chamdo
    The Battle of Chamdo, also referred to as the invasion of Tibet, was a military campaign by the People's Republic of China against a de facto independent Tibet in Qamdo after months of failed negotiations...

  • 1950 to 1954: Korean War
    Korean War
    The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

     (Under the banner of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army
    People's Volunteer Army
    The Chinese People's Volunteer Army was the armed forces deployed by the People's Republic of China during the Korean War. Although all units in the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army belonged to the People's Liberation Army , the People's Volunteer Army was separately constituted in order to...

    ).
  • 1954 to 1955: First Taiwan Strait Crisis
    First Taiwan Strait Crisis
    The First Taiwan Strait Crisis was a short armed conflict that took place between the governments of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China . The PRC seized the Yijiangshan Islands, forcing the ROC to abandon the Tachen Islands...

    .
  • 1958: Second Taiwan Strait Crisis
    Second Taiwan Strait Crisis
    The Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, also called the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis, was a conflict that took place between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China governments in which the PRC shelled the islands of Matsu and Quemoy in the Taiwan Strait in an attempt to seize them from...

     at Quemoy and Matsu.
  • October 1962 to November 1962: Sino-Indian War
    Sino-Indian War
    The Sino-Indian War , also known as the Sino-Indian Border Conflict , was a war between China and India that occurred in 1962. A disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role. There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan...

    .
  • 1967: Border skirmishes
    Chola incident
    The 1967 Sino-Indian skirmish also known as the Chola incident, was a day-long military conflict between Indian troops and members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in Sikkim, who had infiltrated the area. The end of the battle saw the retreat of the People's Liberation Army from...

     with India.
  • 1965 to 1970: Vietnam War
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

     (over 320,000 Chinese soldiers served in North Vietnam throughout the war) .
  • 1969 to 1978: Sino-Soviet border conflict
    Sino-Soviet border conflict
    The Sino–Soviet border conflict was a seven-month military conflict between the Soviet Union and China at the height of the Sino–Soviet split in 1969. The most serious of these border clashes occurred in March 1969 in the vicinity of Zhenbao Island on the Ussuri River, also known as Damanskii...

    .
  • 1974: Battle of the Paracel Islands.
  • 1979: Sino-Vietnamese War
    Sino-Vietnamese War
    The Sino–Vietnamese War , also known as the Third Indochina War, known in the PRC as and in Vietnam as Chiến tranh chống bành trướng Trung Hoa , was a brief but bloody border war fought in 1979 between the People's Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam...

    .
  • 1986 and 1988: Border and naval skirmishes
    Johnson South Reef Skirmish
    The Johnson South Reef Skirmish of 1988 was a naval battle that took place between Chinese and Vietnamese forces over Johnson South Reef in the Spratly Islands on March 14, 1988...

     with Vietnam
    Vietnam
    Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

    .
  • 1989: Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
    Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
    The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

    .
  • 1995 to 1996: Third Taiwan Strait Crisis
    Third Taiwan Strait Crisis
    The Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, also called the 1995–1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis or the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, was the effect of a series of missile tests conducted by the People's Republic of China in the waters surrounding Taiwan including the Taiwan Strait from July 21, 1995 to March 23, 1996...

    .
  • 1997 PLA Control of Hong Kong's Military Defense
  • 1999 PLA Control of Macau's Military Defense

National Military Command


The state military system upholds the principle of the CCP's absolute leadership over the armed forces. The party and the State jointly established the CMC that carries out the task of supreme military leadership over the armed forces. The 1954 Constitution
1954 Constitution of the People's Republic of China
The 1954 Constitution of the People's Republic of China was promulgated by the 1st National People's Congress meeting in Beijing on September 20, 1954, apparently unanimously in favor....

 stated that the State President directs the armed forces and made the State President the chair of the Defense Commission (the Defense Commission is an advisory body, it does not lead the armed forces). On 28 September 1954, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party re-established the CMC as the leader of the PLA and the armed forces. From that time onwards, the system of joint system of party and state military leadership was established. The Central Committee of the Communist Party leads in all military affairs. The State President directs the state military forces and the development of the military forces managed by the State Council.

In order to ensure the absolute leadership of the Communist Party over the armed forces, every level of party committee in the military forces implements the principles of democratic centralism, the divisions and higher levels establish political commissars and political organizations, and ensures that the branch organizations are in line. These systems melded the party organization with the military organization in order to achieve the party's leadership and administrative leadership. This is the key guarantee to the absolute leadership of the party over the military.

Military Leadership


The leadership by the CCP is a fundamental principle of the Chinese military command system. The PLA reports not to the State Council but rather to two Central Military Commissions, one belonging to the state and one belonging to the party.

In practice, the two Central Military Commissions do not conflict each other because their membership is usually identical. Often, the only difference in membership between the two occurs for a few months every five years, during the period between a Party Congress, when Party CMC membership changes, and the next ensuing National People's Congress
National People's Congress
The National People's Congress , abbreviated NPC , is the highest state body and the only legislative house in the People's Republic of China. The National People's Congress is held in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, capital of the People's Republic of China; with 2,987 members, it is the...

, when the State CMC changes. The CMC carries out its responsibilities according to the authority given to it by the Constitution and National Defense Law.

On 11 November 1949, the Air Force leadership structure was established and the Navy leadership the following April. In 1950, the leadership structures of the artillery, armored troops, air defense troops, public security forces, and worker–soldier militias were also established. Later established were the leadership organizations of other forces such as the chemical warfare defense forces, the railroad forces, the communications forces, and the second artillery.

The leadership of each type of military force is under the leadership and management of the corresponding part of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee. Forces under each military branch or force such as the subordinate forces, academies and schools, scientific research and engineering institutions, logistical support organizations, are also under the leadership of the CMC. This arrangement has been especially useful as China over the past several decades has moved increasingly towards military organizations composed of forces from more than one military branch. In September 1982, in order to meet the needs of modernization and to improve coordination in the command of forces including multiple service branches and to strengthen unified command of the military, the CMC ordered that the leadership organization of the various military branches be abolished. The PLA now has Air Force, Navy and Second Artillery leadership organs.

In 1986, the People's Armed Forces Department, except in some border regions, was put under the joint leadership of the PLA and the local authorities. Although the local party organizations paid close attention to the People's Armed Forces Department, as a result of some practical problems, the CMC decided that after 1 April 1996, the People's Armed Forces Department will be once again be under the PLA.
According to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China
Constitution of the People's Republic of China
The Constitution of the People's Republic of China is the highest law within the People's Republic of China. The current version was adopted by the 5th National People's Congress on December 4, 1982 with further revisions in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004. Three previous state constitutions—those of...

, the CMC is composed of the following: the Chairman; the Vice-Chairmen; and Members. The Chairman of the Central Military Commission
Chairman of the Central Military Commission
The Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China has overall responsibility for the Central Military Commission. According to Chapter 3, Section 4 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, "The Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of...

 has overall responsibility for the commission.

As of March 2008:

Chairman:
  • Chairman of the Central Military Commission
    Chairman of the Central Military Commission
    The Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China has overall responsibility for the Central Military Commission. According to Chapter 3, Section 4 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, "The Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of...

    Hu Jintao
    Hu Jintao
    Hu Jintao is the current Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China. He has held the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004, succeeding Jiang...

     (also General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and President of the People's Republic of China
    President of the People's Republic of China
    The President of the People's Republic of China is a ceremonial office and a part of State organs under the National People's Congress and it is the head of state of the People's Republic of China . The office was created by the 1982 Constitution...

    )


Vice Chairmen:
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission – General Guo Boxiong
    Guo Boxiong
    Guo Boxiong , born July 1942 in Xianyang, Shaanxi province is the current Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, a position he was appointed during the 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China along with membership of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China.As one of...

  • Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission – General Xu Caihou
    Xu Caihou
    Xu Caihou is one of three vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China along with Guo Boxiong. He succeeded Hu Jintao to the post on September 19, 2004 upon the latter's promotion to the chairmanship...



Members:
  • Minister of the Ministry of National Defense
    Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China
    The Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China is a ministry under the State Council. It is headed by the Minister of National Defense. The MND was set up according to a decision adopted by the 1st Session of the 1st National People's Congress in 1954...

     – General Liang Guanglie
    Liang Guanglie
    Liang Guanglie is the current Minister for National Defense in the People's Republic of China and serves as a general in the People's Liberation Army of China.-Biography:...

  • Chief of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army – General Chen Bingde
    Chen Bingde
    Chen Bingde is a general in the People's Liberation Army. He was the Director-General of the General Armaments Department until September 2007. In this position he acted as the head of the space program of China. Currently he is the commanding general of People's Liberation Army General Staff...

  • Director of the General Political Department – General Li Jinai
    Li Jinai
    Li Jinai is a general in the People's Liberation Army.-Biography:Li Jinai was born in Tengzhou, Shandong province in July 1942. He joined the Chinese Communist Party in May 1965 and joined the People's Liberation Army in December 1967...

  • Director of the General Logistics Department – General Liao Xilong
    Liao Xilong
    Liao Xilong is a general in the People's Liberation Army.-Biography:...

  • Director of the General Armament Department – General Chang Wanquan
    Chang Wanquan
    Chang Wanquan is a general in the People's Liberation Army. He is the current director of the PLA General Armaments Department and a member of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China....

  • Commander of the Second Artillery Corps – General Jing Zhiyuan
    Jing Zhiyuan
    Jing Zhiyuan is a general in the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China. His ancestors are from Linmu, in Shandong province, and he was born in Xiangfan city, in Hubei province.-Military career:...

  • Commander of the PLA Navy – Admiral Wu Shengli
    Wu Shengli
    -External links:...

  • Commander of the PLA Air Force – General Xu Qiliang
    Xu Qiliang
    Xu Qiliang is a general in the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China, a member of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China , and the current commander of the People's Liberation Army Air Force.Born in Linqu County, Shandong Province, he is the son of Xu...


Central Military Commission


In December 1982, the fifth National People's Congress revised the State Constitution to provide that the State Central Military Commission leads all the armed forces of the state. The chair of the State CMC is chosen and removed by the full NPC while the other members are chosen by the NPC Standing Committee. However, the CMC of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party remained the party organization that directly leads the military and all the other armed forces.

In actual practice, the party CMC, after consultation with the democratic parties, proposes the names of the State CMC members of the NPC so that these people after going through the legal processes can be elected by the NPC to the State Central Military Commission. That is to say, that the CMC of the Central Committee and the CMC of the State are one group and one organization. However, looking at it organizationally, these two CMCs are subordinate to two different systems – the party system and the State system. Therefore the armed forces are under the absolute leadership of the Communist Party and are also the armed forces of the state. This is unique joint leadership system reflects the origin of the PLA as the military branch of the Communist Party. It only became the national military when the People's Republic was established in 1949.

By convention, the chairman and vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission are civilian members of the Communist Party of China, but they are not necessarily the heads of the civilian government. Both Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin is a former Chinese politician, who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, and as Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005...

 and Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician, statesman, and diplomat. As leader of the Communist Party of China, Deng was a reformer who led China towards a market economy...

 retained the office of chairman even after relinquishing their other positions. All of the other members of the CMC are uniformed active military officials. Unlike other nations, the Minister of National Defense is not the head of the military, but is usually a vice chairman of the CMC.

PLA General HQ


The PLA General Headquarters are composed of the following departments:
  • General Staff Department (GSD)
  • General Political Department
    General Political Department
    General Political Department is the chief political organ under Central Military Commission of CPC. It leads all political activities in the People's Liberation Army....

     (GPD)
  • General Logistics Department
    General Logistics Department
    General Logistics Department is a chief organ under Central Military Commission of CPC. It organizes and leads the logistics construction and safeguard of the People's Liberation Army....

     (GLD)
  • General Armaments Department
    General Armaments Department
    General Armaments Department was founded in April 1998. It is a chief organ under Central Military Commission of CPC, responsible for People's Liberation Army's armaments.-Structure :...

     (GAD) (sometimes translated as General Equipment Department).


The GPD maintains a system of political commissar
Political commissar
The political commissar is the supervisory political officer responsible for the political education and organisation, and loyalty to the government of the military...

s which maintain a separate chain of command to ensure loyalty to the party and the civilian government. The CMC exercises leadership over the military regions, the Navy and the Air Force and the Second Artillery through the four general departments.

Within a military region, the three service branches are coordinated in the battle operations under the unified command of the military district
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

. The Second Artillery is however under the direct leadership of the CMC. The army units in a military region are under the leadership of that military region. The navy and air force troops in a military region are under the joint leadership of the military region and their service branch.

Military regions




Under the General Staff Headquarters are the seven military regions
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

:


The PLA garrison
Garrison
Garrison is the collective term for a body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base....

s in Hong Kong
People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison
The People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison is a garrison of the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China responsible for defence duties of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region since the sovereignty of Hong Kong was returned to the PRC in 1997...

 and Macau are both under the administration of the Guangzhou MR.

Coordination with civilian national security groups such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is achieved primarily by the leading groups of the Communist Party of China. Particularly important are the leading groups on foreign affairs and Taiwan.

Service branches


The PLA encompasses five main service branches: Ground Force, the Navy, the Air Force, the Second Artillery (strategic missile force), and the People's Armed Police. Following the 200,000 troop reduction from 2003 to 2005, the total end-strength of the PLA has been reduced from 2.5 million to 2.3 million. There are 660,000 personnel serving in the People's Armed Police
People's Armed Police
The People's Armed Police , officially Chinese People's Armed Police Force is a paramilitary or gendarmerie force primarily responsible for civilian policing and fire rescue duties in the People's Republic of China, as well as provide support to PLA during wartime.In contrast to public security...

 (PAP), and 1.2-1.5 million in the reserve forces and militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

.

The PLA has paid close attention to the performance of the US armed forces in Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 and Iraq. As well as learning from the success of the US military in network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare, also called network-centric operations, is a military doctrine or theory of war pioneered by the United States Department of Defense in the 1990's....

, joint operations, C4ISR
C4ISR
C4ISR may refer to:* the C4ISR concept of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, the U.S. term for C4ISTAR* C4ISR Journal, a journal published by the Defense News Media Group...

, and hi-tech
High tech
High tech is technology that is at the cutting edge: the most advanced technology currently available. It is often used in reference to micro-electronics, rather than other technologies. The adjective form is hyphenated: high-tech or high-technology...

 weapon
Weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

ry, the PLA is also studying the unconventional tactics that could be used to exploit the vulnerabilities of a more technologically advanced enemy. This has been reflected in the two parallel guidelines for the PLA ground forces development. While speeding up the process of introducing new technology into the force and retiring the older equipment, the PLA has also placed an emphasis on asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly....

, including finding methods of using existing equipment to defeat a technologically superior enemy.

PLA Ground Force



The PLA deploys the world's largest ground force, currently totaling some 1.6 million personnel, or about 70 percent of the PLA's total manpower (2.3 million). The ground forces are divided among the seven military regions
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

 as named above.
The regular forces of the ground forces consist of 18 Group Armies
Group Army
A Group Army , is a major Chinese military organization. Some may use or translate it loosely to mean the same as Army Group and through various time periods or history, depending on whether the military formation is under Nationalist China or Communist China , Chinese Army Group or Group Army...

, which are corps-size combined arms
Combined arms
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects...

 units each with approximately 30,000-65,000 personnel and over 9000 Main Battle Tanks. The group armies contain, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies
International Institute for Strategic Studies
The International Institute for Strategic Studies is a British research institute in the area of international affairs. It describes itself as "the world’s leading authority on political-military conflict"...

's 2006 Military Balance, among them 9 armored divisions, 3 mechanized infantry divisions, 24 motorized infantry divisions, 15 infantry divisions, two amphibious assault divisions, one mechanized infantry brigade, 22 motorized infantry brigades, 12 armored brigades, 7 artillery divisions, 14 artillery brigades, 19 anti-aircraft artillery missile brigades, and 10 army aviation
Army aviation
Army Aviation refers to aviation-related units of a nation's army, often described as an air corps. These units are generally separate from a nation's dedicated air force, and usually comprise helicopters and light support fixed-wing aircraft....

 (helicopter) regiments (two training).

In times of crisis, the PLA Ground Force will be reinforced by numerous reserve
Military reserve force
A military reserve force is a military organization composed of citizens of a country who combine a military role or career with a civilian career. They are not normally kept under arms and their main role is to be available to fight when a nation mobilizes for total war or to defend against invasion...

 and paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 units. The PLA reserve component has about 1.2-1.5 million personnel divided into 30 infantry, and 12 anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) divisions. Two amphibious mechanized divisions were also created in Nanjing and Guangzhou MR. At least 40 percent of PLA divisions and brigades are now mechanized or armored, almost double the percentage before the reduction.

While much of the PLA Ground Force was being reduced over the past few years, technology-intensive elements such as special operations forces (SOF), army aviation
Army aviation
Army Aviation refers to aviation-related units of a nation's army, often described as an air corps. These units are generally separate from a nation's dedicated air force, and usually comprise helicopters and light support fixed-wing aircraft....

 (helicopters), surface-to-air missile
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

s (SAMs), and electronic warfare units have all been rapidly expanded. The latest operational doctrine
Military doctrine
Military doctrine is the concise expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns, major operations, battles, and engagements.It is a guide to action, not hard and fast rules. Doctrine provides a common frame of reference across the military...

 of the PLA ground forces highlights the importance of information technology
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

, electronic
Electronic warfare
Electronic warfare refers to any action involving the use of the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack an enemy, or impede enemy assaults via the spectrum. The purpose of electronic warfare is to deny the opponent the advantage of, and ensure friendly...

 and information warfare
Information warfare
The term Information Warfare is primarily an American concept involving the use and management of information technology in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent...

, and long-range precision strikes in future warfare. The older generation telephone/radio-based command, control, and communications (C3) systems are being replaced by an integrated battlefield information networks featuring local/wide-area networks (LAN
Län
Län and lääni refer to the administrative divisions used in Sweden and previously in Finland. The provinces of Finland were abolished on January 1, 2010....

/WAN
Wide area network
A wide area network is a telecommunication network that covers a broad area . Business and government entities utilize WANs to relay data among employees, clients, buyers, and suppliers from various geographical locations...

), satellite communications, unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

 (UAV)-based surveillance
Surveillance
Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people. It is sometimes done in a surreptitious manner...

 and reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 systems, and mobile command and control centers.

The Chinese marines have extensive training in CQC (close quarters combat) and hand-to-hand combat.

PLA Navy




Until the early 1990s, the navy performed a subordinate role to the PLA Land Forces
People's Liberation Army Ground Force
The People's Liberation Army Ground Force is the land-based service branch of the People's Liberation Army. Its regular forces consist of 1.7 million personnel, with an additional 800,000 personnel in reserve, making it the largest active standing army in the world, and second largest in terms of...

. Since then it has undergone rapid modernization. The 250,000-man People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is organized into three major fleets: the North Sea Fleet
North Sea Fleet
The North Sea Fleet is one of three fleets of the People's Liberation Army Navy.It includes nuclear powered submarines: five Han class attack submarines and China's single Xia class ballistic missile submarine, all based at Qingdao....

 headquartered at Qingdao
Qingdao
' also known in the West by its postal map spelling Tsingtao, is a major city with a population of over 8.715 million in eastern Shandong province, Eastern China. Its built up area, made of 7 urban districts plus Jimo city, is home to about 4,346,000 inhabitants in 2010.It borders Yantai to the...

, the East Sea Fleet
East Sea Fleet
The East Sea Fleet was the first naval force formed by the People's Republic of China, on 23 April 1949, and was initially based at Shanghai. It has since been assigned to be part of the People's Liberation Army Navy and its headquarters have been moved to Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, but the fleet...

 headquartered at Ningbo
Ningbo
Ningbo is a seaport city of northeastern Zhejiang province, Eastern China. Holding sub-provincial administrative status, the municipality has a population of 7,605,700 inhabitants at the 2010 census whom 3,089,180 in the built up area made of 6 urban districts. It lies south of the Hangzhou Bay,...

, and the South Sea Fleet
South Sea Fleet
The People's Republic of China's South Sea Fleet was first established in late 1949. The flagship of the SSF is the AOR/AK Nanchang ....

 headquartered in Zhanjiang
Zhanjiang
Zhanjiang , formerly known as Tsamkong, Tsankiang, Fort-Bayard, and Kwang-Chou-Wan, is a prefecture-level city at the southwestern end of Guangdong province of Southern China, facing the island of Hainan to the south....

. Each fleet consists of a number of surface ship
Surface ship
A surface ship is any type of naval ship that is confined to the surface of the sea. The term is primarily used to mean any modern vessel type that is not a submarine; although a "surface ship" may range in size from a cutter to an aircraft carrier, the weapons and tactics have some commonality,...

, submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

, naval air force, coastal defense
Coastal defence and fortification
Coastal defence , Coastal defense and Coastal fortification are measures taken to provide protection against attack by military and naval forces at or near the shoreline...

, and marine units.

The navy includes 35,000 Coastal Defense Force and 56,000 Naval infantry/Marines
People's Liberation Army Marine Corps
The People's Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps is marine corps of the People's Republic of China's People's Liberation Army Navy...

 (two multi-arm marine brigades), plus a 56,000 PLAN Aviation
People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force
The People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force is the naval aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army Navy of the People's Republic of China.-Mission:Primary Mission* Provide fleet air defense for PLAN surface combatants...

 naval air arm operating several hundred land-based aircraft and ship-based helicopters. As part of its overall program of naval modernization, the PLAN has been developing a blue water navy. The Navy also utilises the CJ-10
CJ-10 cruise missile
The CJ-10 is a land attack cruise missile currently in service with the Second Artillery Corps of the People's Republic of China. It is the first of the Changjian series of long range land attack cruise missiles...

 naval cruise missile system, which made its first public appearance
60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China
The 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China took place on October 1, 2009. A military parade involving 10,000 troops and the display of many high-tech weapons was held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing and various celebrations were conducted all over the country...

 during late 2009.

PLA Air Force




The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), with some 250,000 personnel and 2500 Fighters and Attackers, is organized into seven Military Region Air Forces (MRAF) and 24 Air Divisions. It is the largest air force in Asia-Pacific region and the third largest in the world (after the USAF
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 and the Russian Air Force
Russian Air Force
The Russian Air Force is the air force of Russian Military. It is currently under the command of Colonel General Aleksandr Zelin. The Russian Navy has its own air arm, the Russian Naval Aviation, which is the former Soviet Aviatsiya Voyenno Morskogo Flota , or AV-MF).The Air Force was formed from...

). The largest operational units within the Aviation Corps is the air division, which has 2 to 3 aviation regiments, each with 20 to 36 aircraft. The surface-to-air missile
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

 (SAM) Corps is organized into SAM divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

 and brigade
Brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

s. There are also three airborne
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

 divisions manned by the PLAAF.

Second Artillery Corps



The Second Artillery Corps (SAC) is the strategic missile forces of the PLA. It controls China's nuclear
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 and conventional strategic missiles. China's total nuclear arsenal size is estimated to be between 100 and 400 nuclear weapons. The SAC has approximately 90,000-120,000 personnel and six ballistic missile divisions (missile corps bases). The six divisions are independently deployed in different military regions and have a total of 15 to 20 missile brigades.

People's Armed Police




The PAP is the paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 force primarily responsible for law enforcement and internal security
Internal security
Internal security, or IS, is the act of keeping peace within the borders of a sovereign state or other self-governing territories. generally by upholding the national law and defending against internal security threats...

 and is under a unique dual-leadership system of the Central Military Commission and local public security bureau
Public Security Bureau
In the People's Republic of China, a public security bureau refers to the government offices while the smaller offices are called Police posts which are similar in concept to the Japanese Kōban system) present in each province and municipality that handles policing , public security, and...

s (local police departments). The PAP was formed in 1983 when the PLA transferred its internal security and border defense responsibilities to the Ministry of Public Security
Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China
The Ministry of Public Security , is the principal police and security authority of the mainland of the People's Republic of China and the government agency that exercises oversight over and is ultimately responsible for day-to-day law enforcement...

. In wartime
Wartime
The term wartime could refer to:* Wartime, Saskatchewan, a small community in Saskatchewan, Canada.* Wartime Station, Saskatchewan, a small community in Saskatchewan, Canada.* A formal state of war, as opposed to peacetime...

, the PAP, as part of China's armed forces, would be used as light infantry
Light infantry
Traditionally light infantry were soldiers whose job was to provide a skirmishing screen ahead of the main body of infantry, harassing and delaying the enemy advance. Light infantry was distinct from medium, heavy or line infantry. Heavy infantry were dedicated primarily to fighting in tight...

, performing border defense and other support functions to assist the regular ground forces
People's Liberation Army Ground Force
The People's Liberation Army Ground Force is the land-based service branch of the People's Liberation Army. Its regular forces consist of 1.7 million personnel, with an additional 800,000 personnel in reserve, making it the largest active standing army in the world, and second largest in terms of...

.

In general, the PLA regular forces' main purpose is national defense and has rarely been used for internal security or police functions. Most such issues in the country however are handled by the paramilitary People's Armed Police. The instances in which the PLA has been used for non-military internal security duties have included several incidents during the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

 in the 1960s, Tibet in 1989, and with the Tiananmen Protests of 1989. Many times, the PLA has been involved in flood relief operations, particularly in the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

 region.

Conscription and terms of service



Technically, military service with the PLA is obligatory for all Chinese citizens. However, in practice it is entirely voluntary; because of China's large population and of the large number of individuals who volunteer to join the regular armed forces, the authorities have never enforced a draft. All 18-year-old males have to register themselves with the government authorities, in a way similar to the Selective Service System
Selective Service System
The Selective Service System is a means by which the United States government maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription. Most male U.S. citizens and male immigrant non-citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to have registered within 30 days of...

 of the United States. The main exception to this system applies to potential university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 students (male and female), who must undergo military training (usually for the duration of one to four weeks) before or one year after the commencement of their courses.

Article 55 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China
Constitution of the People's Republic of China
The Constitution of the People's Republic of China is the highest law within the People's Republic of China. The current version was adopted by the 5th National People's Congress on December 4, 1982 with further revisions in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004. Three previous state constitutions—those of...

 prescribes conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 by stating: "It is a sacred duty of every citizen of the People's Republic of China to defend his or her motherland and resist invasion. It is an honoured obligation of the citizens of the People's Republic of China to perform military service
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

 and to join the militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 forces."
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is the unified military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 organization of all land
Army
An army An army An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" (feminine), in the broadest sense, is the land-based military of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps...

, sea
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

, strategic missile and air force
Air force
An air force, also known in some countries as an air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military organization that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army, navy or...

s of the People's Republic of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 arm of the Communist Party of China
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

 (CPC). The People's Liberation Army's insignia
Insignia
Insignia or insigne pl -nia or -nias : a symbol or token of personal power, status or office, or of an official body of government or jurisdiction...

 consists of a roundel with a red star bearing the Chinese character
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

s for "Eight One", referring to August 1 , the date of the 1927 Nanchang Uprising
Nanchang Uprising
The Nanchang Uprising was the first major Kuomintang-Communist engagement of the Chinese Civil War, in order to counter the anti-communist purges by the Nationalist Party of China....

.

The PLA is the world's largest military force, with approximately 3 million members (see List of countries by number of total troops), and has the world's largest (active) standing army
Standing army
A standing army is a professional permanent army. It is composed of full-time career soldiers and is not disbanded during times of peace. It differs from army reserves, who are activated only during wars or natural disasters...

, with approximately 2.25 million members (see alphabetical List of countries by number of active troops). The PLA comprises five main service branches, consisting of the PLA Ground Force
People's Liberation Army Ground Force
The People's Liberation Army Ground Force is the land-based service branch of the People's Liberation Army. Its regular forces consist of 1.7 million personnel, with an additional 800,000 personnel in reserve, making it the largest active standing army in the world, and second largest in terms of...

, PLA Navy
People's Liberation Army Navy
The People's Liberation Army Navy is the naval branch of the People's Liberation Army , the military of the People's Republic of China. Until the early 1990s, the navy performed a subordinate role to the PLA Land Forces. Since then, it has undergone rapid modernisation...

 (PLAN), PLA Air Force
People's Liberation Army Air Force
The People's Liberation Army Air Force is the aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army, the military of the People's Republic of China...

 (PLAAF), Second Artillery Corps
Second Artillery Corps
The Second Artillery Corps is the strategic missile forces of the People's Republic of China. The SAC is the component of the People's Liberation Army that controls China's nuclear ballistic and conventional missiles. China's total nuclear arsenal size is estimated to be about 240 nuclear weapons...

 (strategic nuclear or missile force), and the PLA Reserve Force. The People's Armed Police
People's Armed Police
The People's Armed Police , officially Chinese People's Armed Police Force is a paramilitary or gendarmerie force primarily responsible for civilian policing and fire rescue duties in the People's Republic of China, as well as provide support to PLA during wartime.In contrast to public security...

 (PAP), a Chinese paramilitary force under the dual leadership of the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of Public Security
Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China
The Ministry of Public Security , is the principal police and security authority of the mainland of the People's Republic of China and the government agency that exercises oversight over and is ultimately responsible for day-to-day law enforcement...

, is sometimes confused as a branch of the PLA (both the PLA and the PAP are under the lead of Central Military Commission).

Military service
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

 is compulsory, in theory, for all men who attain the age of 18; women may register for duty in the medical, veterinary, and other technical services at ages as young as 14. However, a draft in China has never been enforced due to large numbers of volunteers from China's huge population. Demobilized servicemen are carried in a ready reserve
Military reserve force
A military reserve force is a military organization composed of citizens of a country who combine a military role or career with a civilian career. They are not normally kept under arms and their main role is to be available to fight when a nation mobilizes for total war or to defend against invasion...

, which is reinforced by a standby reserve of veterans and by the militia.

The PLA is formally under the command of the Central Military Commission of the CPC; there is also an identical commission in the government, but it has no clear independent functions. The Ministry of National Defense
Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China
The Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China is a ministry under the State Council. It is headed by the Minister of National Defense. The MND was set up according to a decision adopted by the 1st Session of the 1st National People's Congress in 1954...

, which operates under the State Council
State Council of the People's Republic of China
The State Council of the People's Republic of China , which is largely synonymous with the Central People's Government after 1954, is the chief administrative authority of the People's Republic of China. It is chaired by the Premier and includes the heads of each governmental department and agency...

, does not exercise any authority over the PLA and is far less powerful than the Central Military Commission (CMC). The ministry assures continuing CPC control over the armed forces, and its primary role is that of a liaison office with foreign militaries. The political and military leadership have made a concerted effort to create a professional military force restricted to national defense and to the provision of assistance in domestic economic construction
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

 and emergency relief. This conception of the role of the PLA requires the promotion of specialized officer
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

s who can understand modern weaponry
Military technology
Military technology is the collection of equipment, vehicles, structures and communication systems that are designed for use in warfare. It comprises the kinds of technology that are distinctly military in nature and not civilian in application, usually because they are impractical in civilian...

 and handle combined arms
Combined arms
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects...

 operations. Troops around the country are stationed in seven military regions and more than 20 military district
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

s.

Chairman Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao is the current Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China. He has held the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004, succeeding Jiang...

 has defined the missions of the PLA as:
  • Consolidate the ruling status of the Communist Party
  • Help ensure China's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and domestic security in order to continue national development
  • Safeguard China's expanding national interests
  • Help maintain world peace

History


The People's Liberation Army was founded on 1 August 1927 during the Nanchang Uprising
Nanchang Uprising
The Nanchang Uprising was the first major Kuomintang-Communist engagement of the Chinese Civil War, in order to counter the anti-communist purges by the Nationalist Party of China....

 when troops of the Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 (KMT) rebelled under the leadership of Zhu De
Zhu De
Zhu De was a Chinese militarist, politician, revolutionary, and one of the pioneers of the Chinese Communist Party. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, in 1955 Zhu became one of the Ten Marshals of the People's Liberation Army, of which he is regarded as the founder.-Early...

, He Long
He Long
He Long was a Chinese military leader. He rose to the rank of Marshal and Vice Premier after the founding of the People's Republic of China.-Early life:He Long was a member of the Tujia ethnic group...

, Ye Jianying
Ye Jianying
Ye Jianying was a Chinese communist general and the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress from 1978 to 1983.-Biography:...

 and Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

 shortly after the end of the first Kuomintang–Communist alliance. They were then known as the Chinese Red Army . Between 1934 and 1935, the Red Army survived several campaigns led against it by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

 and engaged in the Long March
Long March
The Long March was a massive military retreat undertaken by the Red Army of the Communist Party of China, the forerunner of the People's Liberation Army, to evade the pursuit of the Kuomintang army. There was not one Long March, but a series of marches, as various Communist armies in the south...

.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 from 1937 to 1945, the Communist military forces were nominally integrated into the National Revolutionary Army
National Revolutionary Army
The National Revolutionary Army , pre-1928 sometimes shortened to 革命軍 or Revolutionary Army and between 1928-1947 as 國軍 or National Army was the Military Arm of the Kuomintang from 1925 until 1947, as well as the national army of the Republic of China during the KMT's period of party rule...

 of the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 forming the Eighth Route Army
Eighth Route Army
The Eighth Route Army was the larger of the two major Chinese communist forces that formed a unit of the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China which fought the Japanese from 1937 to 1945. In contrast to most of the National Revolutionary Army, it was controlled by the Communist...

 and the New Fourth Army
New Fourth Army
The New Fourth Army was a unit of the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China established in 1937. In contrast to most of the National Revolutionary Army, it was controlled by the Communist Party of China and not by the ruling Kuomintang. The New Fourth Army and the Eighth Route Army...

 units. During this time, these two military groups primarily used guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

, fought a few battles with the Japanese while consolidating their ground by annexing nationalist troops and paramilitary forces behind the Japanese lines.

After the end of the Sino-Japanese War, the Communist Party merged the two military groups and renamed the multi-million strong force the "People's Liberation Army" and eventually won the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

. During the 1950s, the PLA with Soviet help transformed itself from a peasant army into a modern one. The PLA also contained many National Revolutionary Army
National Revolutionary Army
The National Revolutionary Army , pre-1928 sometimes shortened to 革命軍 or Revolutionary Army and between 1928-1947 as 國軍 or National Army was the Military Arm of the Kuomintang from 1925 until 1947, as well as the national army of the Republic of China during the KMT's period of party rule...

 units and Generals who had defected to the PLA. Ma Hongbin
Ma Hongbin
Ma Hongbin , was a prominent muslim Ma clique warlord in China during the Republic of China era. He was the acting Chairman of Gansu and Ningxia Provinces for a short period.- Life :...

 and his son Ma Dunjing (1906-1972) were the only two Muslim Generals who led a Muslim unit, the 81st corps to ever serve in the PLA. Han Youwen
Han Youwen
Han Youwen was an ethnic Salar Muslim General in the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China. He was born in Hualong Hui Autonomous County in Qinghai province.-Career:...

, a Salar Muslim General, also defected to the PLA. In November 1950, the PLA or People's Volunteer Army
People's Volunteer Army
The Chinese People's Volunteer Army was the armed forces deployed by the People's Republic of China during the Korean War. Although all units in the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army belonged to the People's Liberation Army , the People's Volunteer Army was separately constituted in order to...

 intervened in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 as United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 forces under General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 approached the Yalu River
Yalu River
The Yalu River or the Amnok River is a river on the border between North Korea and the People's Republic of China....

. Under the weight of this offensive, Chinese forces drove MacArthur's forces out of North Korea and captured Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

, but were subsequently pushed back to a line just north of the 38th Parallel
38th parallel north
The 38th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 38 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean...

. That war also served as a catalyst for the rapid modernization of the PLAAF. In 1962, the PLA also fought India in the Sino-Indian War
Sino-Indian War
The Sino-Indian War , also known as the Sino-Indian Border Conflict , was a war between China and India that occurred in 1962. A disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role. There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan...

 successfully neutralizing Indian defenses and achieving all objectives.

Prior to the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, military region commanders tended to remain in post for long periods. As the PLA took a stronger role in politics, this began to be seen as something of a threat to party (or, at least, civilian) control of the gun. The longest serving military region commanders were Xu Shiyou in the Nanjing Military Region (1954–74), Yang Dezhi in the Jinan Military Region (1958–74), Chen Xilian in the Shenyang Military Region
Shenyang Military Region
The Shenyang Military Region |16th Group Army]], with three divisions, including an armoured division, in Jilin, the 23rd Group Army headquartered at Harbin, and the 39th Group Army in Liaoning.-Current Officers:* Zhang Youxia , since October 2007...

 (1959–73), and Han Xianchu in the Fuzhou Military Region (1960–74).

Establishment of a professional military force equipped with modern weapons and doctrine was the last of the Four Modernizations
Four Modernizations
The Four Modernizations were goals, set forth by Zhou Enlai in 1963, to strengthen the fields of agriculture, industry, national defense, science and technology...

 announced by Zhou Enlai and supported by Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician, statesman, and diplomat. As leader of the Communist Party of China, Deng was a reformer who led China towards a market economy...

. In keeping with Deng's mandate to reform, the PLA has demobilized millions of men and women since 1978 and has introduced modern methods in such areas as recruitment
Military recruitment
Military recruitment is the act of requesting people, usually male adults, to join a military voluntarily. Involuntary military recruitment is known as conscription. Many countries that have abolished conscription use military recruiters to persuade people to join, often at an early age. To...

 and manpower, strategy
Military strategy
Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. Derived from the Greek strategos, strategy when it appeared in use during the 18th century, was seen in its narrow sense as the "art of the general", 'the art of arrangement' of troops...

, and education and training
Military education and training
Military education and training is a process which intends to establish and improve the capabilities of military personnel in their respective roles....

. In 1979, the PLA fought Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 over a border skirmish in the Sino-Vietnamese War
Sino-Vietnamese War
The Sino–Vietnamese War , also known as the Third Indochina War, known in the PRC as and in Vietnam as Chiến tranh chống bành trướng Trung Hoa , was a brief but bloody border war fought in 1979 between the People's Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam...

 where it was reported by Western media that China lost more than 20,000 soldiers. Both sides claimed victory.

In the 1980s, China shrunk its military considerably to free up resources for economic development
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

, resulting in the relative decline in resources devoted to the PLA. Following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

, ideological correctness was temporarily revived as the dominant theme in Chinese military affairs. Reform and modernization have today resumed their position as the PLA's priority objectives, although the armed forces' political loyalty to the CPC has remained a leading concern. Another area of concern to the political leadership was the PLA's involvement in civilian economic activities. These activities were thought to have impacted PLA readiness and has led the political leadership to attempt to divest the PLA from its non-military business interests.

Beginning in the 1980s, the PLA tried to transform itself from a land-based power, centred on a vast ground force, to a smaller, mobile, high-tech one capable of mounting operations beyond its borders. The motivation for this was that a massive land invasion by Russia was no longer seen as a major threat, and the new threats to China are seen to be a declaration of independence by Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, possibly with assistance from the United States, or a confrontation over the Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
The Spratly Islands are a group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays and islands in the South China Sea. The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines and Malaysia , about one third of the way from there to southern Vietnam. They comprise less than four square kilometers of land...

.

In 1985, under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is the highest authority within the Communist Party of China. Its approximately 350 members and alternates are selected once every five years by the National Party Congress....

 and the CMC, the PLA changed from being constantly prepared to "hit early, strike hard and to fight a nuclear war" to developing the military in an era of peace. The PLA reoriented itself to modernization
Modernization
In the social sciences, modernization or modernisation refers to a model of an evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society. The teleology of modernization is described in social evolutionism theories, existing as a template that has been generally followed by...

, improving its fighting ability, and to become a world-class force.

Deng Xiaoping stressed that the PLA needed to focus more on quality rather than on quantity. The decision of the Chinese government in 1985 to reduce the size of the military by one million was completed by 1987. Staffing in military leadership was cut by about 50 percent. During the Ninth Five Year Plan (1996–2000) the PLA was reduced by a further 500,000. The PLA had also been expected to be reduced by another 200,000 by 2005. The PLA has focused on increasing mechanization and informatization so as to be able to fight a high-intensity war.The Political System of the People's Republic of China. Chief Editor Pu Xingzu, Shanghai, 2005, Shanghai People's Publishing House. ISBN 7-208-05566-1, Chapter 11 The State Military System.

Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin is a former Chinese politician, who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, and as Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005...

 in 1990 called on the military to "meet political standards, be militarily competent, have a good working style, adhere strictly to discipline, and provide vigorous logistic support" .News of the Communist Party of China, Hyperlink . Retrieved 28 March 2007.

The 1991 Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 provided the Chinese leadership with a stark realization that the PLA was an oversized, obsolescent force. The possibility of a militarized Japan has also been a continuous concern to the Chinese leadership since the late 1990s. In addition, China's military leadership has been reacting to and learning from the successes and failures of the American military
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 during the Kosovo War
Kosovo War
The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...

, the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

, the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

, and the ongoing Iraqi insurgency
Iraqi insurgency
The Iraqi Resistance is composed of a diverse mix of militias, foreign fighters, all-Iraqi units or mixtures opposing the United States-led multinational force in Iraq and the post-2003 Iraqi government...

. All these lessons inspired China to transform PLA from a military based on quantity to one based on quality.

Chairman Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin is a former Chinese politician, who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, and as Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005...

 officially made a "Revolution in Military Affairs
Revolution in Military Affairs
The military concept of Revolution in Military Affairs is a theory about the future of warfare, often connected to technological and organizational recommendations for change in the United States military and others....

" (RMA) part of the official national military strategy in 1993 in order to modernize the Chinese armed forces
Modernization of the People's Liberation Army
The military modernization program of the People's Liberation Army which began in the late 1970s had three major focuses. First, under the political leadership of Deng Xiaoping, the military became disengaged from civilian politics and, for the most part, resumed the political quiescence that...

. A goal of the RMA is to transform the PLA into a force capable of winning what it calls "local wars under high-tech conditions" rather than a massive, numbers-dominated ground-type war. The Chinese military planners call for short decisive campaigns, limited in both their geographic scope and their political goals. In contrast to the past, more attention is given to reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

, mobility, and deep reach. This new vision has shifted resources towards the navy and air force. PLA is also actively preparing for space warfare
Space warfare
Space warfare is combat that takes place in outer space, i.e. outside the atmosphere. Space warfare therefore includes ground-to-space warfare, such as attacking satellites from the Earth, as well as space-to-space warfare, such as satellites attacking satellites.It does not include the use of...

 and cyber-warfare
Cyber-warfare
Cyberwarfare refers to politically motivated hacking to conduct sabotage and espionage. It is a form of information warfare sometimes seen as analogous to conventional warfare although this analogy is controversial for both its accuracy and its political motivation.Government security expert...

.

For the past 10 to 20 years, the PLA has acquired some advanced weapons systems from Russia, including Sovremenny class destroyers, Sukhoi Su-27
Sukhoi Su-27
The Sukhoi Su-27 is a twin-engine supermanoeuverable fighter aircraft designed by Sukhoi. It was intended as a direct competitor for the large United States fourth generation fighters, with range, heavy armament, sophisticated avionics and high manoeuvrability...

 and Sukhoi Su-30
Sukhoi Su-30
The Sukhoi Su-30 is a twin-engine, two-seat military aircraft developed by Russia's Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. It is a multirole fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.The Su-30 started out as an internal development project in the Sukhoi Su-27 family...

 aircraft, and Kilo-class
Kilo class submarine
The Kilo class is the NATO reporting name for a naval diesel-electric submarine that is made in Russia. The original version of the vessels were designated Project 877 Paltus in Russia. There is also a more advanced version, designated as Improved Kilo in the west, and Project 636 Varshavyanka in...

 diesel-electric submarines. It has also completed several new destroyers and frigates including 2 AAW Type 052C class guided missile destroyers. In addition, the PLAAF has built an indigenous J-10
Chengdu J-10
The Chengdu J-10 is a multirole fighter aircraft designed and produced by the People's Republic of China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation for the People's Liberation Army Air Force...

 fighter aircraft. The PLA launched the new Jin class
Type 094 submarine
The Type 094 is a new class of ballistic missile submarine developed by the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy. The first-of-class was constructed at Huludao Shipyard in Huludao, Liaoning Province and launched in July 2004...

 nuclear submarines on 3 December 2004 capable of launching nuclear warheads that could strike targets across the Pacific Ocean.

In August 2010, PLA Daily
PLA Daily
PLA Daily is China-based media outlet for the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China.It covers news stories relating to the PLA and other military affairs...

 suggested that Chinese military strategy was out of date, and that China must "audaciously learn from the experience of the information cultures of foreign militaries"

Major wars and events

  • 1927 to 1949: Chinese Civil War
    Chinese Civil War
    The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

     against the Kuomintang
    Kuomintang
    The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

     (KMT) as the Chinese Red Army.
  • 1937 to 1945: World War II
    Second Sino-Japanese War
    The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

     against the Empire of Japan
    Empire of Japan
    The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

    .
  • 1949: Yangtze incident (the battle against British warships on the Yangtze river).
  • 1950–1951: Invasion of Tibet
    Battle of Chamdo
    The Battle of Chamdo, also referred to as the invasion of Tibet, was a military campaign by the People's Republic of China against a de facto independent Tibet in Qamdo after months of failed negotiations...

  • 1950 to 1954: Korean War
    Korean War
    The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

     (Under the banner of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army
    People's Volunteer Army
    The Chinese People's Volunteer Army was the armed forces deployed by the People's Republic of China during the Korean War. Although all units in the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army belonged to the People's Liberation Army , the People's Volunteer Army was separately constituted in order to...

    ).
  • 1954 to 1955: First Taiwan Strait Crisis
    First Taiwan Strait Crisis
    The First Taiwan Strait Crisis was a short armed conflict that took place between the governments of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China . The PRC seized the Yijiangshan Islands, forcing the ROC to abandon the Tachen Islands...

    .
  • 1958: Second Taiwan Strait Crisis
    Second Taiwan Strait Crisis
    The Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, also called the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis, was a conflict that took place between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China governments in which the PRC shelled the islands of Matsu and Quemoy in the Taiwan Strait in an attempt to seize them from...

     at Quemoy and Matsu.
  • October 1962 to November 1962: Sino-Indian War
    Sino-Indian War
    The Sino-Indian War , also known as the Sino-Indian Border Conflict , was a war between China and India that occurred in 1962. A disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role. There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan...

    .
  • 1967: Border skirmishes
    Chola incident
    The 1967 Sino-Indian skirmish also known as the Chola incident, was a day-long military conflict between Indian troops and members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in Sikkim, who had infiltrated the area. The end of the battle saw the retreat of the People's Liberation Army from...

     with India.
  • 1965 to 1970: Vietnam War
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

     (over 320,000 Chinese soldiers served in North Vietnam throughout the war) .
  • 1969 to 1978: Sino-Soviet border conflict
    Sino-Soviet border conflict
    The Sino–Soviet border conflict was a seven-month military conflict between the Soviet Union and China at the height of the Sino–Soviet split in 1969. The most serious of these border clashes occurred in March 1969 in the vicinity of Zhenbao Island on the Ussuri River, also known as Damanskii...

    .
  • 1974: Battle of the Paracel Islands.
  • 1979: Sino-Vietnamese War
    Sino-Vietnamese War
    The Sino–Vietnamese War , also known as the Third Indochina War, known in the PRC as and in Vietnam as Chiến tranh chống bành trướng Trung Hoa , was a brief but bloody border war fought in 1979 between the People's Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam...

    .
  • 1986 and 1988: Border and naval skirmishes
    Johnson South Reef Skirmish
    The Johnson South Reef Skirmish of 1988 was a naval battle that took place between Chinese and Vietnamese forces over Johnson South Reef in the Spratly Islands on March 14, 1988...

     with Vietnam
    Vietnam
    Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

    .
  • 1989: Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
    Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
    The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

    .
  • 1995 to 1996: Third Taiwan Strait Crisis
    Third Taiwan Strait Crisis
    The Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, also called the 1995–1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis or the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, was the effect of a series of missile tests conducted by the People's Republic of China in the waters surrounding Taiwan including the Taiwan Strait from July 21, 1995 to March 23, 1996...

    .
  • 1997 PLA Control of Hong Kong's Military Defense
  • 1999 PLA Control of Macau's Military Defense

National Military Command


The state military system upholds the principle of the CCP's absolute leadership over the armed forces. The party and the State jointly established the CMC that carries out the task of supreme military leadership over the armed forces. The 1954 Constitution
1954 Constitution of the People's Republic of China
The 1954 Constitution of the People's Republic of China was promulgated by the 1st National People's Congress meeting in Beijing on September 20, 1954, apparently unanimously in favor....

 stated that the State President directs the armed forces and made the State President the chair of the Defense Commission (the Defense Commission is an advisory body, it does not lead the armed forces). On 28 September 1954, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party re-established the CMC as the leader of the PLA and the armed forces. From that time onwards, the system of joint system of party and state military leadership was established. The Central Committee of the Communist Party leads in all military affairs. The State President directs the state military forces and the development of the military forces managed by the State Council.

In order to ensure the absolute leadership of the Communist Party over the armed forces, every level of party committee in the military forces implements the principles of democratic centralism, the divisions and higher levels establish political commissars and political organizations, and ensures that the branch organizations are in line. These systems melded the party organization with the military organization in order to achieve the party's leadership and administrative leadership. This is the key guarantee to the absolute leadership of the party over the military.

Military Leadership


The leadership by the CCP is a fundamental principle of the Chinese military command system. The PLA reports not to the State Council but rather to two Central Military Commissions, one belonging to the state and one belonging to the party.

In practice, the two Central Military Commissions do not conflict each other because their membership is usually identical. Often, the only difference in membership between the two occurs for a few months every five years, during the period between a Party Congress, when Party CMC membership changes, and the next ensuing National People's Congress
National People's Congress
The National People's Congress , abbreviated NPC , is the highest state body and the only legislative house in the People's Republic of China. The National People's Congress is held in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, capital of the People's Republic of China; with 2,987 members, it is the...

, when the State CMC changes. The CMC carries out its responsibilities according to the authority given to it by the Constitution and National Defense Law.The Political System of the People's Republic of China. Chief Editor Pu Xingzu, Shanghai, 2005, Shanghai People's Publishing House. ISBN 7-208-05566-1 Chapter 11, the State Military System, pp. 369-392.

On 11 November 1949, the Air Force leadership structure was established and the Navy leadership the following April. In 1950, the leadership structures of the artillery, armored troops, air defense troops, public security forces, and worker–soldier militias were also established. Later established were the leadership organizations of other forces such as the chemical warfare defense forces, the railroad forces, the communications forces, and the second artillery.

The leadership of each type of military force is under the leadership and management of the corresponding part of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee. Forces under each military branch or force such as the subordinate forces, academies and schools, scientific research and engineering institutions, logistical support organizations, are also under the leadership of the CMC. This arrangement has been especially useful as China over the past several decades has moved increasingly towards military organizations composed of forces from more than one military branch. In September 1982, in order to meet the needs of modernization and to improve coordination in the command of forces including multiple service branches and to strengthen unified command of the military, the CMC ordered that the leadership organization of the various military branches be abolished. The PLA now has Air Force, Navy and Second Artillery leadership organs.

In 1986, the People's Armed Forces Department, except in some border regions, was put under the joint leadership of the PLA and the local authorities. Although the local party organizations paid close attention to the People's Armed Forces Department, as a result of some practical problems, the CMC decided that after 1 April 1996, the People's Armed Forces Department will be once again be under the PLA.
According to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China
Constitution of the People's Republic of China
The Constitution of the People's Republic of China is the highest law within the People's Republic of China. The current version was adopted by the 5th National People's Congress on December 4, 1982 with further revisions in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004. Three previous state constitutions—those of...

, the CMC is composed of the following: the Chairman; the Vice-Chairmen; and Members. The Chairman of the Central Military Commission
Chairman of the Central Military Commission
The Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China has overall responsibility for the Central Military Commission. According to Chapter 3, Section 4 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, "The Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of...

 has overall responsibility for the commission.

As of March 2008:

Chairman:
  • Chairman of the Central Military Commission
    Chairman of the Central Military Commission
    The Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China has overall responsibility for the Central Military Commission. According to Chapter 3, Section 4 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, "The Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of...

    Hu Jintao
    Hu Jintao
    Hu Jintao is the current Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China. He has held the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004, succeeding Jiang...

     (also General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and President of the People's Republic of China
    President of the People's Republic of China
    The President of the People's Republic of China is a ceremonial office and a part of State organs under the National People's Congress and it is the head of state of the People's Republic of China . The office was created by the 1982 Constitution...

    )


Vice Chairmen:
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission – General Guo Boxiong
    Guo Boxiong
    Guo Boxiong , born July 1942 in Xianyang, Shaanxi province is the current Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, a position he was appointed during the 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China along with membership of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China.As one of...

  • Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission – General Xu Caihou
    Xu Caihou
    Xu Caihou is one of three vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China along with Guo Boxiong. He succeeded Hu Jintao to the post on September 19, 2004 upon the latter's promotion to the chairmanship...



Members:
  • Minister of the Ministry of National Defense
    Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China
    The Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China is a ministry under the State Council. It is headed by the Minister of National Defense. The MND was set up according to a decision adopted by the 1st Session of the 1st National People's Congress in 1954...

     – General Liang Guanglie
    Liang Guanglie
    Liang Guanglie is the current Minister for National Defense in the People's Republic of China and serves as a general in the People's Liberation Army of China.-Biography:...

  • Chief of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army – General Chen Bingde
    Chen Bingde
    Chen Bingde is a general in the People's Liberation Army. He was the Director-General of the General Armaments Department until September 2007. In this position he acted as the head of the space program of China. Currently he is the commanding general of People's Liberation Army General Staff...

  • Director of the General Political Department – General Li Jinai
    Li Jinai
    Li Jinai is a general in the People's Liberation Army.-Biography:Li Jinai was born in Tengzhou, Shandong province in July 1942. He joined the Chinese Communist Party in May 1965 and joined the People's Liberation Army in December 1967...

  • Director of the General Logistics Department – General Liao Xilong
    Liao Xilong
    Liao Xilong is a general in the People's Liberation Army.-Biography:...

  • Director of the General Armament Department – General Chang Wanquan
    Chang Wanquan
    Chang Wanquan is a general in the People's Liberation Army. He is the current director of the PLA General Armaments Department and a member of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China....

  • Commander of the Second Artillery Corps – General Jing Zhiyuan
    Jing Zhiyuan
    Jing Zhiyuan is a general in the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China. His ancestors are from Linmu, in Shandong province, and he was born in Xiangfan city, in Hubei province.-Military career:...

  • Commander of the PLA Navy – Admiral Wu Shengli
    Wu Shengli
    -External links:...

  • Commander of the PLA Air Force – General Xu Qiliang
    Xu Qiliang
    Xu Qiliang is a general in the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China, a member of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China , and the current commander of the People's Liberation Army Air Force.Born in Linqu County, Shandong Province, he is the son of Xu...


Central Military Commission


In December 1982, the fifth National People's Congress revised the State Constitution to provide that the State Central Military Commission leads all the armed forces of the state. The chair of the State CMC is chosen and removed by the full NPC while the other members are chosen by the NPC Standing Committee. However, the CMC of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party remained the party organization that directly leads the military and all the other armed forces.

In actual practice, the party CMC, after consultation with the democratic parties, proposes the names of the State CMC members of the NPC so that these people after going through the legal processes can be elected by the NPC to the State Central Military Commission. That is to say, that the CMC of the Central Committee and the CMC of the State are one group and one organization. However, looking at it organizationally, these two CMCs are subordinate to two different systems – the party system and the State system. Therefore the armed forces are under the absolute leadership of the Communist Party and are also the armed forces of the state. This is unique joint leadership system reflects the origin of the PLA as the military branch of the Communist Party. It only became the national military when the People's Republic was established in 1949.

By convention, the chairman and vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission are civilian members of the Communist Party of China, but they are not necessarily the heads of the civilian government. Both Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin is a former Chinese politician, who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, and as Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005...

 and Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician, statesman, and diplomat. As leader of the Communist Party of China, Deng was a reformer who led China towards a market economy...

 retained the office of chairman even after relinquishing their other positions. All of the other members of the CMC are uniformed active military officials. Unlike other nations, the Minister of National Defense is not the head of the military, but is usually a vice chairman of the CMC.

PLA General HQ


The PLA General Headquarters are composed of the following departments:
  • General Staff Department (GSD)
  • General Political Department
    General Political Department
    General Political Department is the chief political organ under Central Military Commission of CPC. It leads all political activities in the People's Liberation Army....

     (GPD)
  • General Logistics Department
    General Logistics Department
    General Logistics Department is a chief organ under Central Military Commission of CPC. It organizes and leads the logistics construction and safeguard of the People's Liberation Army....

     (GLD)
  • General Armaments Department
    General Armaments Department
    General Armaments Department was founded in April 1998. It is a chief organ under Central Military Commission of CPC, responsible for People's Liberation Army's armaments.-Structure :...

     (GAD) (sometimes translated as General Equipment Department).


The GPD maintains a system of political commissar
Political commissar
The political commissar is the supervisory political officer responsible for the political education and organisation, and loyalty to the government of the military...

s which maintain a separate chain of command to ensure loyalty to the party and the civilian government. The CMC exercises leadership over the military regions, the Navy and the Air Force and the Second Artillery through the four general departments.

Within a military region, the three service branches are coordinated in the battle operations under the unified command of the military district
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

. The Second Artillery is however under the direct leadership of the CMC. The army units in a military region are under the leadership of that military region. The navy and air force troops in a military region are under the joint leadership of the military region and their service branch.

Military regions




Under the General Staff Headquarters are the seven military regions
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

:


The PLA garrison
Garrison
Garrison is the collective term for a body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base....

s in Hong Kong
People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison
The People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison is a garrison of the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China responsible for defence duties of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region since the sovereignty of Hong Kong was returned to the PRC in 1997...

 and Macau are both under the administration of the Guangzhou MR.

Coordination with civilian national security groups such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is achieved primarily by the leading groups of the Communist Party of China. Particularly important are the leading groups on foreign affairs and Taiwan.

Service branches


The PLA encompasses five main service branches: Ground Force, the Navy, the Air Force, the Second Artillery (strategic missile force), and the People's Armed Police. Following the 200,000 troop reduction from 2003 to 2005, the total end-strength of the PLA has been reduced from 2.5 million to 2.3 million. There are 660,000 personnel serving in the People's Armed Police
People's Armed Police
The People's Armed Police , officially Chinese People's Armed Police Force is a paramilitary or gendarmerie force primarily responsible for civilian policing and fire rescue duties in the People's Republic of China, as well as provide support to PLA during wartime.In contrast to public security...

 (PAP), and 1.2-1.5 million in the reserve forces and militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

.

The PLA has paid close attention to the performance of the US armed forces in Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 and Iraq. As well as learning from the success of the US military in network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare, also called network-centric operations, is a military doctrine or theory of war pioneered by the United States Department of Defense in the 1990's....

, joint operations, C4ISR
C4ISR
C4ISR may refer to:* the C4ISR concept of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, the U.S. term for C4ISTAR* C4ISR Journal, a journal published by the Defense News Media Group...

, and hi-tech
High tech
High tech is technology that is at the cutting edge: the most advanced technology currently available. It is often used in reference to micro-electronics, rather than other technologies. The adjective form is hyphenated: high-tech or high-technology...

 weapon
Weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

ry, the PLA is also studying the unconventional tactics that could be used to exploit the vulnerabilities of a more technologically advanced enemy. This has been reflected in the two parallel guidelines for the PLA ground forces development. While speeding up the process of introducing new technology into the force and retiring the older equipment, the PLA has also placed an emphasis on asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly....

, including finding methods of using existing equipment to defeat a technologically superior enemy.

PLA Ground Force



The PLA deploys the world's largest ground force, currently totaling some 1.6 million personnel, or about 70 percent of the PLA's total manpower (2.3 million). The ground forces are divided among the seven military regions
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

 as named above.
The regular forces of the ground forces consist of 18 Group Armies
Group Army
A Group Army , is a major Chinese military organization. Some may use or translate it loosely to mean the same as Army Group and through various time periods or history, depending on whether the military formation is under Nationalist China or Communist China , Chinese Army Group or Group Army...

, which are corps-size combined arms
Combined arms
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects...

 units each with approximately 30,000-65,000 personnel and over 9000 Main Battle Tanks. The group armies contain, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies
International Institute for Strategic Studies
The International Institute for Strategic Studies is a British research institute in the area of international affairs. It describes itself as "the world’s leading authority on political-military conflict"...

's 2006 Military Balance, among them 9 armored divisions, 3 mechanized infantry divisions, 24 motorized infantry divisions, 15 infantry divisions, two amphibious assault divisions, one mechanized infantry brigade, 22 motorized infantry brigades, 12 armored brigades, 7 artillery divisions, 14 artillery brigades, 19 anti-aircraft artillery missile brigades, and 10 army aviation
Army aviation
Army Aviation refers to aviation-related units of a nation's army, often described as an air corps. These units are generally separate from a nation's dedicated air force, and usually comprise helicopters and light support fixed-wing aircraft....

 (helicopter) regiments (two training).

In times of crisis, the PLA Ground Force will be reinforced by numerous reserve
Military reserve force
A military reserve force is a military organization composed of citizens of a country who combine a military role or career with a civilian career. They are not normally kept under arms and their main role is to be available to fight when a nation mobilizes for total war or to defend against invasion...

 and paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 units. The PLA reserve component has about 1.2-1.5 million personnel divided into 30 infantry, and 12 anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) divisions. Two amphibious mechanized divisions were also created in Nanjing and Guangzhou MR. At least 40 percent of PLA divisions and brigades are now mechanized or armored, almost double the percentage before the reduction.

While much of the PLA Ground Force was being reduced over the past few years, technology-intensive elements such as special operations forces (SOF), army aviation
Army aviation
Army Aviation refers to aviation-related units of a nation's army, often described as an air corps. These units are generally separate from a nation's dedicated air force, and usually comprise helicopters and light support fixed-wing aircraft....

 (helicopters), surface-to-air missile
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

s (SAMs), and electronic warfare units have all been rapidly expanded. The latest operational doctrine
Military doctrine
Military doctrine is the concise expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns, major operations, battles, and engagements.It is a guide to action, not hard and fast rules. Doctrine provides a common frame of reference across the military...

 of the PLA ground forces highlights the importance of information technology
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

, electronic
Electronic warfare
Electronic warfare refers to any action involving the use of the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack an enemy, or impede enemy assaults via the spectrum. The purpose of electronic warfare is to deny the opponent the advantage of, and ensure friendly...

 and information warfare
Information warfare
The term Information Warfare is primarily an American concept involving the use and management of information technology in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent...

, and long-range precision strikes in future warfare. The older generation telephone/radio-based command, control, and communications (C3) systems are being replaced by an integrated battlefield information networks featuring local/wide-area networks (LAN
Län
Län and lääni refer to the administrative divisions used in Sweden and previously in Finland. The provinces of Finland were abolished on January 1, 2010....

/WAN
Wide area network
A wide area network is a telecommunication network that covers a broad area . Business and government entities utilize WANs to relay data among employees, clients, buyers, and suppliers from various geographical locations...

), satellite communications, unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

 (UAV)-based surveillance
Surveillance
Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people. It is sometimes done in a surreptitious manner...

 and reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 systems, and mobile command and control centers.

The Chinese marines have extensive training in CQC (close quarters combat) and hand-to-hand combat.

PLA Navy




Until the early 1990s, the navy performed a subordinate role to the PLA Land Forces
People's Liberation Army Ground Force
The People's Liberation Army Ground Force is the land-based service branch of the People's Liberation Army. Its regular forces consist of 1.7 million personnel, with an additional 800,000 personnel in reserve, making it the largest active standing army in the world, and second largest in terms of...

. Since then it has undergone rapid modernization. The 250,000-man People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is organized into three major fleets: the North Sea Fleet
North Sea Fleet
The North Sea Fleet is one of three fleets of the People's Liberation Army Navy.It includes nuclear powered submarines: five Han class attack submarines and China's single Xia class ballistic missile submarine, all based at Qingdao....

 headquartered at Qingdao
Qingdao
' also known in the West by its postal map spelling Tsingtao, is a major city with a population of over 8.715 million in eastern Shandong province, Eastern China. Its built up area, made of 7 urban districts plus Jimo city, is home to about 4,346,000 inhabitants in 2010.It borders Yantai to the...

, the East Sea Fleet
East Sea Fleet
The East Sea Fleet was the first naval force formed by the People's Republic of China, on 23 April 1949, and was initially based at Shanghai. It has since been assigned to be part of the People's Liberation Army Navy and its headquarters have been moved to Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, but the fleet...

 headquartered at Ningbo
Ningbo
Ningbo is a seaport city of northeastern Zhejiang province, Eastern China. Holding sub-provincial administrative status, the municipality has a population of 7,605,700 inhabitants at the 2010 census whom 3,089,180 in the built up area made of 6 urban districts. It lies south of the Hangzhou Bay,...

, and the South Sea Fleet
South Sea Fleet
The People's Republic of China's South Sea Fleet was first established in late 1949. The flagship of the SSF is the AOR/AK Nanchang ....

 headquartered in Zhanjiang
Zhanjiang
Zhanjiang , formerly known as Tsamkong, Tsankiang, Fort-Bayard, and Kwang-Chou-Wan, is a prefecture-level city at the southwestern end of Guangdong province of Southern China, facing the island of Hainan to the south....

. Each fleet consists of a number of surface ship
Surface ship
A surface ship is any type of naval ship that is confined to the surface of the sea. The term is primarily used to mean any modern vessel type that is not a submarine; although a "surface ship" may range in size from a cutter to an aircraft carrier, the weapons and tactics have some commonality,...

, submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

, naval air force, coastal defense
Coastal defence and fortification
Coastal defence , Coastal defense and Coastal fortification are measures taken to provide protection against attack by military and naval forces at or near the shoreline...

, and marine units.

The navy includes 35,000 Coastal Defense Force and 56,000 Naval infantry/Marines
People's Liberation Army Marine Corps
The People's Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps is marine corps of the People's Republic of China's People's Liberation Army Navy...

 (two multi-arm marine brigades), plus a 56,000 PLAN Aviation
People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force
The People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force is the naval aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army Navy of the People's Republic of China.-Mission:Primary Mission* Provide fleet air defense for PLAN surface combatants...

 naval air arm operating several hundred land-based aircraft and ship-based helicopters. As part of its overall program of naval modernization, the PLAN has been developing a blue water navy. The Navy also utilises the CJ-10
CJ-10 cruise missile
The CJ-10 is a land attack cruise missile currently in service with the Second Artillery Corps of the People's Republic of China. It is the first of the Changjian series of long range land attack cruise missiles...

 naval cruise missile system, which made its first public appearance
60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China
The 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China took place on October 1, 2009. A military parade involving 10,000 troops and the display of many high-tech weapons was held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing and various celebrations were conducted all over the country...

 during late 2009.

PLA Air Force




The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), with some 250,000 personnel and 2500 Fighters and Attackers, is organized into seven Military Region Air Forces (MRAF) and 24 Air Divisions. It is the largest air force in Asia-Pacific region and the third largest in the world (after the USAF
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 and the Russian Air Force
Russian Air Force
The Russian Air Force is the air force of Russian Military. It is currently under the command of Colonel General Aleksandr Zelin. The Russian Navy has its own air arm, the Russian Naval Aviation, which is the former Soviet Aviatsiya Voyenno Morskogo Flota , or AV-MF).The Air Force was formed from...

). The largest operational units within the Aviation Corps is the air division, which has 2 to 3 aviation regiments, each with 20 to 36 aircraft. The surface-to-air missile
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

 (SAM) Corps is organized into SAM divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

 and brigade
Brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

s. There are also three airborne
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

 divisions manned by the PLAAF.

Second Artillery Corps



The Second Artillery Corps (SAC) is the strategic missile forces of the PLA. It controls China's nuclear
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 and conventional strategic missiles. China's total nuclear arsenal size is estimated to be between 100 and 400 nuclear weapons. The SAC has approximately 90,000-120,000 personnel and six ballistic missile divisions (missile corps bases). The six divisions are independently deployed in different military regions and have a total of 15 to 20 missile brigades.

People's Armed Police




The PAP is the paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 force primarily responsible for law enforcement and internal security
Internal security
Internal security, or IS, is the act of keeping peace within the borders of a sovereign state or other self-governing territories. generally by upholding the national law and defending against internal security threats...

 and is under a unique dual-leadership system of the Central Military Commission and local public security bureau
Public Security Bureau
In the People's Republic of China, a public security bureau refers to the government offices while the smaller offices are called Police posts which are similar in concept to the Japanese Kōban system) present in each province and municipality that handles policing , public security, and...

s (local police departments). The PAP was formed in 1983 when the PLA transferred its internal security and border defense responsibilities to the Ministry of Public Security
Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China
The Ministry of Public Security , is the principal police and security authority of the mainland of the People's Republic of China and the government agency that exercises oversight over and is ultimately responsible for day-to-day law enforcement...

. In wartime
Wartime
The term wartime could refer to:* Wartime, Saskatchewan, a small community in Saskatchewan, Canada.* Wartime Station, Saskatchewan, a small community in Saskatchewan, Canada.* A formal state of war, as opposed to peacetime...

, the PAP, as part of China's armed forces, would be used as light infantry
Light infantry
Traditionally light infantry were soldiers whose job was to provide a skirmishing screen ahead of the main body of infantry, harassing and delaying the enemy advance. Light infantry was distinct from medium, heavy or line infantry. Heavy infantry were dedicated primarily to fighting in tight...

, performing border defense and other support functions to assist the regular ground forces
People's Liberation Army Ground Force
The People's Liberation Army Ground Force is the land-based service branch of the People's Liberation Army. Its regular forces consist of 1.7 million personnel, with an additional 800,000 personnel in reserve, making it the largest active standing army in the world, and second largest in terms of...

.

In general, the PLA regular forces' main purpose is national defense and has rarely been used for internal security or police functions. Most such issues in the country however are handled by the paramilitary People's Armed Police. The instances in which the PLA has been used for non-military internal security duties have included several incidents during the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

 in the 1960s, Tibet in 1989, and with the Tiananmen Protests of 1989. Many times, the PLA has been involved in flood relief operations, particularly in the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

 region.

Conscription and terms of service



Technically, military service with the PLA is obligatory for all Chinese citizens. However, in practice it is entirely voluntary; because of China's large population and of the large number of individuals who volunteer to join the regular armed forces, the authorities have never enforced a draft. All 18-year-old males have to register themselves with the government authorities, in a way similar to the Selective Service System
Selective Service System
The Selective Service System is a means by which the United States government maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription. Most male U.S. citizens and male immigrant non-citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to have registered within 30 days of...

 of the United States.Article 13 of the Military Service Law of the People's Republic of China adopted on May 31, 1984. The main exception to this system applies to potential university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 students (male and female), who must undergo military training (usually for the duration of one to four weeks) before or one year after the commencement of their courses.

Article 55 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China
Constitution of the People's Republic of China
The Constitution of the People's Republic of China is the highest law within the People's Republic of China. The current version was adopted by the 5th National People's Congress on December 4, 1982 with further revisions in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004. Three previous state constitutions—those of...

 prescribes conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 by stating: "It is a sacred duty of every citizen of the People's Republic of China to defend his or her motherland and resist invasion. It is an honoured obligation of the citizens of the People's Republic of China to perform military service
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

 and to join the militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 forces."
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is the unified military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 organization of all land
Army
An army An army An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" (feminine), in the broadest sense, is the land-based military of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps...

, sea
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

, strategic missile and air force
Air force
An air force, also known in some countries as an air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military organization that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army, navy or...

s of the People's Republic of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 arm of the Communist Party of China
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

 (CPC). The People's Liberation Army's insignia
Insignia
Insignia or insigne pl -nia or -nias : a symbol or token of personal power, status or office, or of an official body of government or jurisdiction...

 consists of a roundel with a red star bearing the Chinese character
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

s for "Eight One", referring to August 1 , the date of the 1927 Nanchang Uprising
Nanchang Uprising
The Nanchang Uprising was the first major Kuomintang-Communist engagement of the Chinese Civil War, in order to counter the anti-communist purges by the Nationalist Party of China....

.

The PLA is the world's largest military force, with approximately 3 million members (see List of countries by number of total troops), and has the world's largest (active) standing army
Standing army
A standing army is a professional permanent army. It is composed of full-time career soldiers and is not disbanded during times of peace. It differs from army reserves, who are activated only during wars or natural disasters...

, with approximately 2.25 million members (see alphabetical List of countries by number of active troops). The PLA comprises five main service branches, consisting of the PLA Ground Force
People's Liberation Army Ground Force
The People's Liberation Army Ground Force is the land-based service branch of the People's Liberation Army. Its regular forces consist of 1.7 million personnel, with an additional 800,000 personnel in reserve, making it the largest active standing army in the world, and second largest in terms of...

, PLA Navy
People's Liberation Army Navy
The People's Liberation Army Navy is the naval branch of the People's Liberation Army , the military of the People's Republic of China. Until the early 1990s, the navy performed a subordinate role to the PLA Land Forces. Since then, it has undergone rapid modernisation...

 (PLAN), PLA Air Force
People's Liberation Army Air Force
The People's Liberation Army Air Force is the aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army, the military of the People's Republic of China...

 (PLAAF), Second Artillery Corps
Second Artillery Corps
The Second Artillery Corps is the strategic missile forces of the People's Republic of China. The SAC is the component of the People's Liberation Army that controls China's nuclear ballistic and conventional missiles. China's total nuclear arsenal size is estimated to be about 240 nuclear weapons...

 (strategic nuclear or missile force), and the PLA Reserve Force. The People's Armed Police
People's Armed Police
The People's Armed Police , officially Chinese People's Armed Police Force is a paramilitary or gendarmerie force primarily responsible for civilian policing and fire rescue duties in the People's Republic of China, as well as provide support to PLA during wartime.In contrast to public security...

 (PAP), a Chinese paramilitary force under the dual leadership of the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of Public Security
Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China
The Ministry of Public Security , is the principal police and security authority of the mainland of the People's Republic of China and the government agency that exercises oversight over and is ultimately responsible for day-to-day law enforcement...

, is sometimes confused as a branch of the PLA (both the PLA and the PAP are under the lead of Central Military Commission).

Military service
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

 is compulsory, in theory, for all men who attain the age of 18; women may register for duty in the medical, veterinary, and other technical services at ages as young as 14. However, a draft in China has never been enforced due to large numbers of volunteers from China's huge population. Demobilized servicemen are carried in a ready reserve
Military reserve force
A military reserve force is a military organization composed of citizens of a country who combine a military role or career with a civilian career. They are not normally kept under arms and their main role is to be available to fight when a nation mobilizes for total war or to defend against invasion...

, which is reinforced by a standby reserve of veterans and by the militia.

The PLA is formally under the command of the Central Military Commission of the CPC; there is also an identical commission in the government, but it has no clear independent functions. The Ministry of National Defense
Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China
The Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China is a ministry under the State Council. It is headed by the Minister of National Defense. The MND was set up according to a decision adopted by the 1st Session of the 1st National People's Congress in 1954...

, which operates under the State Council
State Council of the People's Republic of China
The State Council of the People's Republic of China , which is largely synonymous with the Central People's Government after 1954, is the chief administrative authority of the People's Republic of China. It is chaired by the Premier and includes the heads of each governmental department and agency...

, does not exercise any authority over the PLA and is far less powerful than the Central Military Commission (CMC). The ministry assures continuing CPC control over the armed forces, and its primary role is that of a liaison office with foreign militaries. The political and military leadership have made a concerted effort to create a professional military force restricted to national defense and to the provision of assistance in domestic economic construction
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

 and emergency relief. This conception of the role of the PLA requires the promotion of specialized officer
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

s who can understand modern weaponry
Military technology
Military technology is the collection of equipment, vehicles, structures and communication systems that are designed for use in warfare. It comprises the kinds of technology that are distinctly military in nature and not civilian in application, usually because they are impractical in civilian...

 and handle combined arms
Combined arms
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects...

 operations. Troops around the country are stationed in seven military regions and more than 20 military district
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

s.

Chairman Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao is the current Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China. He has held the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004, succeeding Jiang...

 has defined the missions of the PLA as:
  • Consolidate the ruling status of the Communist Party
  • Help ensure China's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and domestic security in order to continue national development
  • Safeguard China's expanding national interests
  • Help maintain world peace

History


The People's Liberation Army was founded on 1 August 1927 during the Nanchang Uprising
Nanchang Uprising
The Nanchang Uprising was the first major Kuomintang-Communist engagement of the Chinese Civil War, in order to counter the anti-communist purges by the Nationalist Party of China....

 when troops of the Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 (KMT) rebelled under the leadership of Zhu De
Zhu De
Zhu De was a Chinese militarist, politician, revolutionary, and one of the pioneers of the Chinese Communist Party. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, in 1955 Zhu became one of the Ten Marshals of the People's Liberation Army, of which he is regarded as the founder.-Early...

, He Long
He Long
He Long was a Chinese military leader. He rose to the rank of Marshal and Vice Premier after the founding of the People's Republic of China.-Early life:He Long was a member of the Tujia ethnic group...

, Ye Jianying
Ye Jianying
Ye Jianying was a Chinese communist general and the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress from 1978 to 1983.-Biography:...

 and Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

 shortly after the end of the first Kuomintang–Communist alliance. They were then known as the Chinese Red Army . Between 1934 and 1935, the Red Army survived several campaigns led against it by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

 and engaged in the Long March
Long March
The Long March was a massive military retreat undertaken by the Red Army of the Communist Party of China, the forerunner of the People's Liberation Army, to evade the pursuit of the Kuomintang army. There was not one Long March, but a series of marches, as various Communist armies in the south...

.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 from 1937 to 1945, the Communist military forces were nominally integrated into the National Revolutionary Army
National Revolutionary Army
The National Revolutionary Army , pre-1928 sometimes shortened to 革命軍 or Revolutionary Army and between 1928-1947 as 國軍 or National Army was the Military Arm of the Kuomintang from 1925 until 1947, as well as the national army of the Republic of China during the KMT's period of party rule...

 of the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 forming the Eighth Route Army
Eighth Route Army
The Eighth Route Army was the larger of the two major Chinese communist forces that formed a unit of the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China which fought the Japanese from 1937 to 1945. In contrast to most of the National Revolutionary Army, it was controlled by the Communist...

 and the New Fourth Army
New Fourth Army
The New Fourth Army was a unit of the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China established in 1937. In contrast to most of the National Revolutionary Army, it was controlled by the Communist Party of China and not by the ruling Kuomintang. The New Fourth Army and the Eighth Route Army...

 units. During this time, these two military groups primarily used guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

, fought a few battles with the Japanese while consolidating their ground by annexing nationalist troops and paramilitary forces behind the Japanese lines.

After the end of the Sino-Japanese War, the Communist Party merged the two military groups and renamed the multi-million strong force the "People's Liberation Army" and eventually won the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

. During the 1950s, the PLA with Soviet help transformed itself from a peasant army into a modern one. The PLA also contained many National Revolutionary Army
National Revolutionary Army
The National Revolutionary Army , pre-1928 sometimes shortened to 革命軍 or Revolutionary Army and between 1928-1947 as 國軍 or National Army was the Military Arm of the Kuomintang from 1925 until 1947, as well as the national army of the Republic of China during the KMT's period of party rule...

 units and Generals who had defected to the PLA. Ma Hongbin
Ma Hongbin
Ma Hongbin , was a prominent muslim Ma clique warlord in China during the Republic of China era. He was the acting Chairman of Gansu and Ningxia Provinces for a short period.- Life :...

 and his son Ma Dunjing (1906-1972) were the only two Muslim Generals who led a Muslim unit, the 81st corps to ever serve in the PLA. Han Youwen
Han Youwen
Han Youwen was an ethnic Salar Muslim General in the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China. He was born in Hualong Hui Autonomous County in Qinghai province.-Career:...

, a Salar Muslim General, also defected to the PLA. In November 1950, the PLA or People's Volunteer Army
People's Volunteer Army
The Chinese People's Volunteer Army was the armed forces deployed by the People's Republic of China during the Korean War. Although all units in the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army belonged to the People's Liberation Army , the People's Volunteer Army was separately constituted in order to...

 intervened in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 as United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 forces under General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 approached the Yalu River
Yalu River
The Yalu River or the Amnok River is a river on the border between North Korea and the People's Republic of China....

. Under the weight of this offensive, Chinese forces drove MacArthur's forces out of North Korea and captured Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

, but were subsequently pushed back to a line just north of the 38th Parallel
38th parallel north
The 38th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 38 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean...

. That war also served as a catalyst for the rapid modernization of the PLAAF. In 1962, the PLA also fought India in the Sino-Indian War
Sino-Indian War
The Sino-Indian War , also known as the Sino-Indian Border Conflict , was a war between China and India that occurred in 1962. A disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role. There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan...

 successfully neutralizing Indian defenses and achieving all objectives.

Prior to the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, military region commanders tended to remain in post for long periods. As the PLA took a stronger role in politics, this began to be seen as something of a threat to party (or, at least, civilian) control of the gun. The longest serving military region commanders were Xu Shiyou in the Nanjing Military Region (1954–74), Yang Dezhi in the Jinan Military Region (1958–74), Chen Xilian in the Shenyang Military Region
Shenyang Military Region
The Shenyang Military Region |16th Group Army]], with three divisions, including an armoured division, in Jilin, the 23rd Group Army headquartered at Harbin, and the 39th Group Army in Liaoning.-Current Officers:* Zhang Youxia , since October 2007...

 (1959–73), and Han Xianchu in the Fuzhou Military Region (1960–74).

Establishment of a professional military force equipped with modern weapons and doctrine was the last of the Four Modernizations
Four Modernizations
The Four Modernizations were goals, set forth by Zhou Enlai in 1963, to strengthen the fields of agriculture, industry, national defense, science and technology...

 announced by Zhou Enlai and supported by Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician, statesman, and diplomat. As leader of the Communist Party of China, Deng was a reformer who led China towards a market economy...

. In keeping with Deng's mandate to reform, the PLA has demobilized millions of men and women since 1978 and has introduced modern methods in such areas as recruitment
Military recruitment
Military recruitment is the act of requesting people, usually male adults, to join a military voluntarily. Involuntary military recruitment is known as conscription. Many countries that have abolished conscription use military recruiters to persuade people to join, often at an early age. To...

 and manpower, strategy
Military strategy
Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. Derived from the Greek strategos, strategy when it appeared in use during the 18th century, was seen in its narrow sense as the "art of the general", 'the art of arrangement' of troops...

, and education and training
Military education and training
Military education and training is a process which intends to establish and improve the capabilities of military personnel in their respective roles....

. In 1979, the PLA fought Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 over a border skirmish in the Sino-Vietnamese War
Sino-Vietnamese War
The Sino–Vietnamese War , also known as the Third Indochina War, known in the PRC as and in Vietnam as Chiến tranh chống bành trướng Trung Hoa , was a brief but bloody border war fought in 1979 between the People's Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam...

 where it was reported by Western media that China lost more than 20,000 soldiers. Both sides claimed victory.

In the 1980s, China shrunk its military considerably to free up resources for economic development
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

, resulting in the relative decline in resources devoted to the PLA. Following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

, ideological correctness was temporarily revived as the dominant theme in Chinese military affairs. Reform and modernization have today resumed their position as the PLA's priority objectives, although the armed forces' political loyalty to the CPC has remained a leading concern. Another area of concern to the political leadership was the PLA's involvement in civilian economic activities. These activities were thought to have impacted PLA readiness and has led the political leadership to attempt to divest the PLA from its non-military business interests.

Beginning in the 1980s, the PLA tried to transform itself from a land-based power, centred on a vast ground force, to a smaller, mobile, high-tech one capable of mounting operations beyond its borders. The motivation for this was that a massive land invasion by Russia was no longer seen as a major threat, and the new threats to China are seen to be a declaration of independence by Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, possibly with assistance from the United States, or a confrontation over the Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
The Spratly Islands are a group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays and islands in the South China Sea. The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines and Malaysia , about one third of the way from there to southern Vietnam. They comprise less than four square kilometers of land...

.

In 1985, under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is the highest authority within the Communist Party of China. Its approximately 350 members and alternates are selected once every five years by the National Party Congress....

 and the CMC, the PLA changed from being constantly prepared to "hit early, strike hard and to fight a nuclear war" to developing the military in an era of peace. The PLA reoriented itself to modernization
Modernization
In the social sciences, modernization or modernisation refers to a model of an evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society. The teleology of modernization is described in social evolutionism theories, existing as a template that has been generally followed by...

, improving its fighting ability, and to become a world-class force.

Deng Xiaoping stressed that the PLA needed to focus more on quality rather than on quantity. The decision of the Chinese government in 1985 to reduce the size of the military by one million was completed by 1987. Staffing in military leadership was cut by about 50 percent. During the Ninth Five Year Plan (1996–2000) the PLA was reduced by a further 500,000. The PLA had also been expected to be reduced by another 200,000 by 2005. The PLA has focused on increasing mechanization and informatization so as to be able to fight a high-intensity war.The Political System of the People's Republic of China. Chief Editor Pu Xingzu, Shanghai, 2005, Shanghai People's Publishing House. ISBN 7-208-05566-1, Chapter 11 The State Military System.

Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin is a former Chinese politician, who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, and as Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005...

 in 1990 called on the military to "meet political standards, be militarily competent, have a good working style, adhere strictly to discipline, and provide vigorous logistic support" .News of the Communist Party of China, Hyperlink . Retrieved 28 March 2007.

The 1991 Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 provided the Chinese leadership with a stark realization that the PLA was an oversized, obsolescent force. The possibility of a militarized Japan has also been a continuous concern to the Chinese leadership since the late 1990s. In addition, China's military leadership has been reacting to and learning from the successes and failures of the American military
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 during the Kosovo War
Kosovo War
The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...

, the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

, the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

, and the ongoing Iraqi insurgency
Iraqi insurgency
The Iraqi Resistance is composed of a diverse mix of militias, foreign fighters, all-Iraqi units or mixtures opposing the United States-led multinational force in Iraq and the post-2003 Iraqi government...

. All these lessons inspired China to transform PLA from a military based on quantity to one based on quality.

Chairman Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin is a former Chinese politician, who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, and as Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005...

 officially made a "Revolution in Military Affairs
Revolution in Military Affairs
The military concept of Revolution in Military Affairs is a theory about the future of warfare, often connected to technological and organizational recommendations for change in the United States military and others....

" (RMA) part of the official national military strategy in 1993 in order to modernize the Chinese armed forces
Modernization of the People's Liberation Army
The military modernization program of the People's Liberation Army which began in the late 1970s had three major focuses. First, under the political leadership of Deng Xiaoping, the military became disengaged from civilian politics and, for the most part, resumed the political quiescence that...

. A goal of the RMA is to transform the PLA into a force capable of winning what it calls "local wars under high-tech conditions" rather than a massive, numbers-dominated ground-type war. The Chinese military planners call for short decisive campaigns, limited in both their geographic scope and their political goals. In contrast to the past, more attention is given to reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

, mobility, and deep reach. This new vision has shifted resources towards the navy and air force. PLA is also actively preparing for space warfare
Space warfare
Space warfare is combat that takes place in outer space, i.e. outside the atmosphere. Space warfare therefore includes ground-to-space warfare, such as attacking satellites from the Earth, as well as space-to-space warfare, such as satellites attacking satellites.It does not include the use of...

 and cyber-warfare
Cyber-warfare
Cyberwarfare refers to politically motivated hacking to conduct sabotage and espionage. It is a form of information warfare sometimes seen as analogous to conventional warfare although this analogy is controversial for both its accuracy and its political motivation.Government security expert...

.

For the past 10 to 20 years, the PLA has acquired some advanced weapons systems from Russia, including Sovremenny class destroyers, Sukhoi Su-27
Sukhoi Su-27
The Sukhoi Su-27 is a twin-engine supermanoeuverable fighter aircraft designed by Sukhoi. It was intended as a direct competitor for the large United States fourth generation fighters, with range, heavy armament, sophisticated avionics and high manoeuvrability...

 and Sukhoi Su-30
Sukhoi Su-30
The Sukhoi Su-30 is a twin-engine, two-seat military aircraft developed by Russia's Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. It is a multirole fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.The Su-30 started out as an internal development project in the Sukhoi Su-27 family...

 aircraft, and Kilo-class
Kilo class submarine
The Kilo class is the NATO reporting name for a naval diesel-electric submarine that is made in Russia. The original version of the vessels were designated Project 877 Paltus in Russia. There is also a more advanced version, designated as Improved Kilo in the west, and Project 636 Varshavyanka in...

 diesel-electric submarines. It has also completed several new destroyers and frigates including 2 AAW Type 052C class guided missile destroyers. In addition, the PLAAF has built an indigenous J-10
Chengdu J-10
The Chengdu J-10 is a multirole fighter aircraft designed and produced by the People's Republic of China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation for the People's Liberation Army Air Force...

 fighter aircraft. The PLA launched the new Jin class
Type 094 submarine
The Type 094 is a new class of ballistic missile submarine developed by the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy. The first-of-class was constructed at Huludao Shipyard in Huludao, Liaoning Province and launched in July 2004...

 nuclear submarines on 3 December 2004 capable of launching nuclear warheads that could strike targets across the Pacific Ocean.

In August 2010, PLA Daily
PLA Daily
PLA Daily is China-based media outlet for the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China.It covers news stories relating to the PLA and other military affairs...

 suggested that Chinese military strategy was out of date, and that China must "audaciously learn from the experience of the information cultures of foreign militaries"

Major wars and events

  • 1927 to 1949: Chinese Civil War
    Chinese Civil War
    The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

     against the Kuomintang
    Kuomintang
    The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

     (KMT) as the Chinese Red Army.
  • 1937 to 1945: World War II
    Second Sino-Japanese War
    The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

     against the Empire of Japan
    Empire of Japan
    The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

    .
  • 1949: Yangtze incident (the battle against British warships on the Yangtze river).
  • 1950–1951: Invasion of Tibet
    Battle of Chamdo
    The Battle of Chamdo, also referred to as the invasion of Tibet, was a military campaign by the People's Republic of China against a de facto independent Tibet in Qamdo after months of failed negotiations...

  • 1950 to 1954: Korean War
    Korean War
    The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

     (Under the banner of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army
    People's Volunteer Army
    The Chinese People's Volunteer Army was the armed forces deployed by the People's Republic of China during the Korean War. Although all units in the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army belonged to the People's Liberation Army , the People's Volunteer Army was separately constituted in order to...

    ).
  • 1954 to 1955: First Taiwan Strait Crisis
    First Taiwan Strait Crisis
    The First Taiwan Strait Crisis was a short armed conflict that took place between the governments of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China . The PRC seized the Yijiangshan Islands, forcing the ROC to abandon the Tachen Islands...

    .
  • 1958: Second Taiwan Strait Crisis
    Second Taiwan Strait Crisis
    The Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, also called the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis, was a conflict that took place between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China governments in which the PRC shelled the islands of Matsu and Quemoy in the Taiwan Strait in an attempt to seize them from...

     at Quemoy and Matsu.
  • October 1962 to November 1962: Sino-Indian War
    Sino-Indian War
    The Sino-Indian War , also known as the Sino-Indian Border Conflict , was a war between China and India that occurred in 1962. A disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role. There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan...

    .
  • 1967: Border skirmishes
    Chola incident
    The 1967 Sino-Indian skirmish also known as the Chola incident, was a day-long military conflict between Indian troops and members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in Sikkim, who had infiltrated the area. The end of the battle saw the retreat of the People's Liberation Army from...

     with India.
  • 1965 to 1970: Vietnam War
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

     (over 320,000 Chinese soldiers served in North Vietnam throughout the war) .
  • 1969 to 1978: Sino-Soviet border conflict
    Sino-Soviet border conflict
    The Sino–Soviet border conflict was a seven-month military conflict between the Soviet Union and China at the height of the Sino–Soviet split in 1969. The most serious of these border clashes occurred in March 1969 in the vicinity of Zhenbao Island on the Ussuri River, also known as Damanskii...

    .
  • 1974: Battle of the Paracel Islands.
  • 1979: Sino-Vietnamese War
    Sino-Vietnamese War
    The Sino–Vietnamese War , also known as the Third Indochina War, known in the PRC as and in Vietnam as Chiến tranh chống bành trướng Trung Hoa , was a brief but bloody border war fought in 1979 between the People's Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam...

    .
  • 1986 and 1988: Border and naval skirmishes
    Johnson South Reef Skirmish
    The Johnson South Reef Skirmish of 1988 was a naval battle that took place between Chinese and Vietnamese forces over Johnson South Reef in the Spratly Islands on March 14, 1988...

     with Vietnam
    Vietnam
    Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

    .
  • 1989: Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
    Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
    The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

    .
  • 1995 to 1996: Third Taiwan Strait Crisis
    Third Taiwan Strait Crisis
    The Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, also called the 1995–1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis or the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, was the effect of a series of missile tests conducted by the People's Republic of China in the waters surrounding Taiwan including the Taiwan Strait from July 21, 1995 to March 23, 1996...

    .
  • 1997 PLA Control of Hong Kong's Military Defense
  • 1999 PLA Control of Macau's Military Defense

National Military Command


The state military system upholds the principle of the CCP's absolute leadership over the armed forces. The party and the State jointly established the CMC that carries out the task of supreme military leadership over the armed forces. The 1954 Constitution
1954 Constitution of the People's Republic of China
The 1954 Constitution of the People's Republic of China was promulgated by the 1st National People's Congress meeting in Beijing on September 20, 1954, apparently unanimously in favor....

 stated that the State President directs the armed forces and made the State President the chair of the Defense Commission (the Defense Commission is an advisory body, it does not lead the armed forces). On 28 September 1954, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party re-established the CMC as the leader of the PLA and the armed forces. From that time onwards, the system of joint system of party and state military leadership was established. The Central Committee of the Communist Party leads in all military affairs. The State President directs the state military forces and the development of the military forces managed by the State Council.

In order to ensure the absolute leadership of the Communist Party over the armed forces, every level of party committee in the military forces implements the principles of democratic centralism, the divisions and higher levels establish political commissars and political organizations, and ensures that the branch organizations are in line. These systems melded the party organization with the military organization in order to achieve the party's leadership and administrative leadership. This is the key guarantee to the absolute leadership of the party over the military.

Military Leadership


The leadership by the CCP is a fundamental principle of the Chinese military command system. The PLA reports not to the State Council but rather to two Central Military Commissions, one belonging to the state and one belonging to the party.

In practice, the two Central Military Commissions do not conflict each other because their membership is usually identical. Often, the only difference in membership between the two occurs for a few months every five years, during the period between a Party Congress, when Party CMC membership changes, and the next ensuing National People's Congress
National People's Congress
The National People's Congress , abbreviated NPC , is the highest state body and the only legislative house in the People's Republic of China. The National People's Congress is held in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, capital of the People's Republic of China; with 2,987 members, it is the...

, when the State CMC changes. The CMC carries out its responsibilities according to the authority given to it by the Constitution and National Defense Law.The Political System of the People's Republic of China. Chief Editor Pu Xingzu, Shanghai, 2005, Shanghai People's Publishing House. ISBN 7-208-05566-1 Chapter 11, the State Military System, pp. 369-392.

On 11 November 1949, the Air Force leadership structure was established and the Navy leadership the following April. In 1950, the leadership structures of the artillery, armored troops, air defense troops, public security forces, and worker–soldier militias were also established. Later established were the leadership organizations of other forces such as the chemical warfare defense forces, the railroad forces, the communications forces, and the second artillery.

The leadership of each type of military force is under the leadership and management of the corresponding part of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee. Forces under each military branch or force such as the subordinate forces, academies and schools, scientific research and engineering institutions, logistical support organizations, are also under the leadership of the CMC. This arrangement has been especially useful as China over the past several decades has moved increasingly towards military organizations composed of forces from more than one military branch. In September 1982, in order to meet the needs of modernization and to improve coordination in the command of forces including multiple service branches and to strengthen unified command of the military, the CMC ordered that the leadership organization of the various military branches be abolished. The PLA now has Air Force, Navy and Second Artillery leadership organs.

In 1986, the People's Armed Forces Department, except in some border regions, was put under the joint leadership of the PLA and the local authorities. Although the local party organizations paid close attention to the People's Armed Forces Department, as a result of some practical problems, the CMC decided that after 1 April 1996, the People's Armed Forces Department will be once again be under the PLA.
According to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China
Constitution of the People's Republic of China
The Constitution of the People's Republic of China is the highest law within the People's Republic of China. The current version was adopted by the 5th National People's Congress on December 4, 1982 with further revisions in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004. Three previous state constitutions—those of...

, the CMC is composed of the following: the Chairman; the Vice-Chairmen; and Members. The Chairman of the Central Military Commission
Chairman of the Central Military Commission
The Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China has overall responsibility for the Central Military Commission. According to Chapter 3, Section 4 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, "The Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of...

 has overall responsibility for the commission.

As of March 2008:

Chairman:
  • Chairman of the Central Military Commission
    Chairman of the Central Military Commission
    The Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China has overall responsibility for the Central Military Commission. According to Chapter 3, Section 4 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, "The Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of...

    Hu Jintao
    Hu Jintao
    Hu Jintao is the current Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China. He has held the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004, succeeding Jiang...

     (also General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and President of the People's Republic of China
    President of the People's Republic of China
    The President of the People's Republic of China is a ceremonial office and a part of State organs under the National People's Congress and it is the head of state of the People's Republic of China . The office was created by the 1982 Constitution...

    )


Vice Chairmen:
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission – General Guo Boxiong
    Guo Boxiong
    Guo Boxiong , born July 1942 in Xianyang, Shaanxi province is the current Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, a position he was appointed during the 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China along with membership of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China.As one of...

  • Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission – General Xu Caihou
    Xu Caihou
    Xu Caihou is one of three vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China along with Guo Boxiong. He succeeded Hu Jintao to the post on September 19, 2004 upon the latter's promotion to the chairmanship...



Members:
  • Minister of the Ministry of National Defense
    Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China
    The Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China is a ministry under the State Council. It is headed by the Minister of National Defense. The MND was set up according to a decision adopted by the 1st Session of the 1st National People's Congress in 1954...

     – General Liang Guanglie
    Liang Guanglie
    Liang Guanglie is the current Minister for National Defense in the People's Republic of China and serves as a general in the People's Liberation Army of China.-Biography:...

  • Chief of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army – General Chen Bingde
    Chen Bingde
    Chen Bingde is a general in the People's Liberation Army. He was the Director-General of the General Armaments Department until September 2007. In this position he acted as the head of the space program of China. Currently he is the commanding general of People's Liberation Army General Staff...

  • Director of the General Political Department – General Li Jinai
    Li Jinai
    Li Jinai is a general in the People's Liberation Army.-Biography:Li Jinai was born in Tengzhou, Shandong province in July 1942. He joined the Chinese Communist Party in May 1965 and joined the People's Liberation Army in December 1967...

  • Director of the General Logistics Department – General Liao Xilong
    Liao Xilong
    Liao Xilong is a general in the People's Liberation Army.-Biography:...

  • Director of the General Armament Department – General Chang Wanquan
    Chang Wanquan
    Chang Wanquan is a general in the People's Liberation Army. He is the current director of the PLA General Armaments Department and a member of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China....

  • Commander of the Second Artillery Corps – General Jing Zhiyuan
    Jing Zhiyuan
    Jing Zhiyuan is a general in the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China. His ancestors are from Linmu, in Shandong province, and he was born in Xiangfan city, in Hubei province.-Military career:...

  • Commander of the PLA Navy – Admiral Wu Shengli
    Wu Shengli
    -External links:...

  • Commander of the PLA Air Force – General Xu Qiliang
    Xu Qiliang
    Xu Qiliang is a general in the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China, a member of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China , and the current commander of the People's Liberation Army Air Force.Born in Linqu County, Shandong Province, he is the son of Xu...


Central Military Commission


In December 1982, the fifth National People's Congress revised the State Constitution to provide that the State Central Military Commission leads all the armed forces of the state. The chair of the State CMC is chosen and removed by the full NPC while the other members are chosen by the NPC Standing Committee. However, the CMC of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party remained the party organization that directly leads the military and all the other armed forces.

In actual practice, the party CMC, after consultation with the democratic parties, proposes the names of the State CMC members of the NPC so that these people after going through the legal processes can be elected by the NPC to the State Central Military Commission. That is to say, that the CMC of the Central Committee and the CMC of the State are one group and one organization. However, looking at it organizationally, these two CMCs are subordinate to two different systems – the party system and the State system. Therefore the armed forces are under the absolute leadership of the Communist Party and are also the armed forces of the state. This is unique joint leadership system reflects the origin of the PLA as the military branch of the Communist Party. It only became the national military when the People's Republic was established in 1949.

By convention, the chairman and vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission are civilian members of the Communist Party of China, but they are not necessarily the heads of the civilian government. Both Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin is a former Chinese politician, who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, and as Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005...

 and Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician, statesman, and diplomat. As leader of the Communist Party of China, Deng was a reformer who led China towards a market economy...

 retained the office of chairman even after relinquishing their other positions. All of the other members of the CMC are uniformed active military officials. Unlike other nations, the Minister of National Defense is not the head of the military, but is usually a vice chairman of the CMC.

PLA General HQ


The PLA General Headquarters are composed of the following departments:
  • General Staff Department (GSD)
  • General Political Department
    General Political Department
    General Political Department is the chief political organ under Central Military Commission of CPC. It leads all political activities in the People's Liberation Army....

     (GPD)
  • General Logistics Department
    General Logistics Department
    General Logistics Department is a chief organ under Central Military Commission of CPC. It organizes and leads the logistics construction and safeguard of the People's Liberation Army....

     (GLD)
  • General Armaments Department
    General Armaments Department
    General Armaments Department was founded in April 1998. It is a chief organ under Central Military Commission of CPC, responsible for People's Liberation Army's armaments.-Structure :...

     (GAD) (sometimes translated as General Equipment Department).


The GPD maintains a system of political commissar
Political commissar
The political commissar is the supervisory political officer responsible for the political education and organisation, and loyalty to the government of the military...

s which maintain a separate chain of command to ensure loyalty to the party and the civilian government. The CMC exercises leadership over the military regions, the Navy and the Air Force and the Second Artillery through the four general departments.

Within a military region, the three service branches are coordinated in the battle operations under the unified command of the military district
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

. The Second Artillery is however under the direct leadership of the CMC. The army units in a military region are under the leadership of that military region. The navy and air force troops in a military region are under the joint leadership of the military region and their service branch.

Military regions




Under the General Staff Headquarters are the seven military regions
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

:


The PLA garrison
Garrison
Garrison is the collective term for a body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base....

s in Hong Kong
People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison
The People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison is a garrison of the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China responsible for defence duties of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region since the sovereignty of Hong Kong was returned to the PRC in 1997...

 and Macau are both under the administration of the Guangzhou MR.

Coordination with civilian national security groups such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is achieved primarily by the leading groups of the Communist Party of China. Particularly important are the leading groups on foreign affairs and Taiwan.

Service branches


The PLA encompasses five main service branches: Ground Force, the Navy, the Air Force, the Second Artillery (strategic missile force), and the People's Armed Police. Following the 200,000 troop reduction from 2003 to 2005, the total end-strength of the PLA has been reduced from 2.5 million to 2.3 million. There are 660,000 personnel serving in the People's Armed Police
People's Armed Police
The People's Armed Police , officially Chinese People's Armed Police Force is a paramilitary or gendarmerie force primarily responsible for civilian policing and fire rescue duties in the People's Republic of China, as well as provide support to PLA during wartime.In contrast to public security...

 (PAP), and 1.2-1.5 million in the reserve forces and militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

.

The PLA has paid close attention to the performance of the US armed forces in Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 and Iraq. As well as learning from the success of the US military in network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare, also called network-centric operations, is a military doctrine or theory of war pioneered by the United States Department of Defense in the 1990's....

, joint operations, C4ISR
C4ISR
C4ISR may refer to:* the C4ISR concept of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, the U.S. term for C4ISTAR* C4ISR Journal, a journal published by the Defense News Media Group...

, and hi-tech
High tech
High tech is technology that is at the cutting edge: the most advanced technology currently available. It is often used in reference to micro-electronics, rather than other technologies. The adjective form is hyphenated: high-tech or high-technology...

 weapon
Weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

ry, the PLA is also studying the unconventional tactics that could be used to exploit the vulnerabilities of a more technologically advanced enemy. This has been reflected in the two parallel guidelines for the PLA ground forces development. While speeding up the process of introducing new technology into the force and retiring the older equipment, the PLA has also placed an emphasis on asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly....

, including finding methods of using existing equipment to defeat a technologically superior enemy.

PLA Ground Force



The PLA deploys the world's largest ground force, currently totaling some 1.6 million personnel, or about 70 percent of the PLA's total manpower (2.3 million). The ground forces are divided among the seven military regions
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

 as named above.
The regular forces of the ground forces consist of 18 Group Armies
Group Army
A Group Army , is a major Chinese military organization. Some may use or translate it loosely to mean the same as Army Group and through various time periods or history, depending on whether the military formation is under Nationalist China or Communist China , Chinese Army Group or Group Army...

, which are corps-size combined arms
Combined arms
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects...

 units each with approximately 30,000-65,000 personnel and over 9000 Main Battle Tanks. The group armies contain, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies
International Institute for Strategic Studies
The International Institute for Strategic Studies is a British research institute in the area of international affairs. It describes itself as "the world’s leading authority on political-military conflict"...

's 2006 Military Balance, among them 9 armored divisions, 3 mechanized infantry divisions, 24 motorized infantry divisions, 15 infantry divisions, two amphibious assault divisions, one mechanized infantry brigade, 22 motorized infantry brigades, 12 armored brigades, 7 artillery divisions, 14 artillery brigades, 19 anti-aircraft artillery missile brigades, and 10 army aviation
Army aviation
Army Aviation refers to aviation-related units of a nation's army, often described as an air corps. These units are generally separate from a nation's dedicated air force, and usually comprise helicopters and light support fixed-wing aircraft....

 (helicopter) regiments (two training).

In times of crisis, the PLA Ground Force will be reinforced by numerous reserve
Military reserve force
A military reserve force is a military organization composed of citizens of a country who combine a military role or career with a civilian career. They are not normally kept under arms and their main role is to be available to fight when a nation mobilizes for total war or to defend against invasion...

 and paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 units. The PLA reserve component has about 1.2-1.5 million personnel divided into 30 infantry, and 12 anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) divisions. Two amphibious mechanized divisions were also created in Nanjing and Guangzhou MR. At least 40 percent of PLA divisions and brigades are now mechanized or armored, almost double the percentage before the reduction.

While much of the PLA Ground Force was being reduced over the past few years, technology-intensive elements such as special operations forces (SOF), army aviation
Army aviation
Army Aviation refers to aviation-related units of a nation's army, often described as an air corps. These units are generally separate from a nation's dedicated air force, and usually comprise helicopters and light support fixed-wing aircraft....

 (helicopters), surface-to-air missile
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

s (SAMs), and electronic warfare units have all been rapidly expanded. The latest operational doctrine
Military doctrine
Military doctrine is the concise expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns, major operations, battles, and engagements.It is a guide to action, not hard and fast rules. Doctrine provides a common frame of reference across the military...

 of the PLA ground forces highlights the importance of information technology
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

, electronic
Electronic warfare
Electronic warfare refers to any action involving the use of the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack an enemy, or impede enemy assaults via the spectrum. The purpose of electronic warfare is to deny the opponent the advantage of, and ensure friendly...

 and information warfare
Information warfare
The term Information Warfare is primarily an American concept involving the use and management of information technology in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent...

, and long-range precision strikes in future warfare. The older generation telephone/radio-based command, control, and communications (C3) systems are being replaced by an integrated battlefield information networks featuring local/wide-area networks (LAN
Län
Län and lääni refer to the administrative divisions used in Sweden and previously in Finland. The provinces of Finland were abolished on January 1, 2010....

/WAN
Wide area network
A wide area network is a telecommunication network that covers a broad area . Business and government entities utilize WANs to relay data among employees, clients, buyers, and suppliers from various geographical locations...

), satellite communications, unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

 (UAV)-based surveillance
Surveillance
Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people. It is sometimes done in a surreptitious manner...

 and reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 systems, and mobile command and control centers.

The Chinese marines have extensive training in CQC (close quarters combat) and hand-to-hand combat.

PLA Navy




Until the early 1990s, the navy performed a subordinate role to the PLA Land Forces
People's Liberation Army Ground Force
The People's Liberation Army Ground Force is the land-based service branch of the People's Liberation Army. Its regular forces consist of 1.7 million personnel, with an additional 800,000 personnel in reserve, making it the largest active standing army in the world, and second largest in terms of...

. Since then it has undergone rapid modernization. The 250,000-man People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is organized into three major fleets: the North Sea Fleet
North Sea Fleet
The North Sea Fleet is one of three fleets of the People's Liberation Army Navy.It includes nuclear powered submarines: five Han class attack submarines and China's single Xia class ballistic missile submarine, all based at Qingdao....

 headquartered at Qingdao
Qingdao
' also known in the West by its postal map spelling Tsingtao, is a major city with a population of over 8.715 million in eastern Shandong province, Eastern China. Its built up area, made of 7 urban districts plus Jimo city, is home to about 4,346,000 inhabitants in 2010.It borders Yantai to the...

, the East Sea Fleet
East Sea Fleet
The East Sea Fleet was the first naval force formed by the People's Republic of China, on 23 April 1949, and was initially based at Shanghai. It has since been assigned to be part of the People's Liberation Army Navy and its headquarters have been moved to Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, but the fleet...

 headquartered at Ningbo
Ningbo
Ningbo is a seaport city of northeastern Zhejiang province, Eastern China. Holding sub-provincial administrative status, the municipality has a population of 7,605,700 inhabitants at the 2010 census whom 3,089,180 in the built up area made of 6 urban districts. It lies south of the Hangzhou Bay,...

, and the South Sea Fleet
South Sea Fleet
The People's Republic of China's South Sea Fleet was first established in late 1949. The flagship of the SSF is the AOR/AK Nanchang ....

 headquartered in Zhanjiang
Zhanjiang
Zhanjiang , formerly known as Tsamkong, Tsankiang, Fort-Bayard, and Kwang-Chou-Wan, is a prefecture-level city at the southwestern end of Guangdong province of Southern China, facing the island of Hainan to the south....

. Each fleet consists of a number of surface ship
Surface ship
A surface ship is any type of naval ship that is confined to the surface of the sea. The term is primarily used to mean any modern vessel type that is not a submarine; although a "surface ship" may range in size from a cutter to an aircraft carrier, the weapons and tactics have some commonality,...

, submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

, naval air force, coastal defense
Coastal defence and fortification
Coastal defence , Coastal defense and Coastal fortification are measures taken to provide protection against attack by military and naval forces at or near the shoreline...

, and marine units.

The navy includes 35,000 Coastal Defense Force and 56,000 Naval infantry/Marines
People's Liberation Army Marine Corps
The People's Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps is marine corps of the People's Republic of China's People's Liberation Army Navy...

 (two multi-arm marine brigades), plus a 56,000 PLAN Aviation
People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force
The People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force is the naval aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army Navy of the People's Republic of China.-Mission:Primary Mission* Provide fleet air defense for PLAN surface combatants...

 naval air arm operating several hundred land-based aircraft and ship-based helicopters. As part of its overall program of naval modernization, the PLAN has been developing a blue water navy. The Navy also utilises the CJ-10
CJ-10 cruise missile
The CJ-10 is a land attack cruise missile currently in service with the Second Artillery Corps of the People's Republic of China. It is the first of the Changjian series of long range land attack cruise missiles...

 naval cruise missile system, which made its first public appearance
60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China
The 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China took place on October 1, 2009. A military parade involving 10,000 troops and the display of many high-tech weapons was held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing and various celebrations were conducted all over the country...

 during late 2009.

PLA Air Force




The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), with some 250,000 personnel and 2500 Fighters and Attackers, is organized into seven Military Region Air Forces (MRAF) and 24 Air Divisions. It is the largest air force in Asia-Pacific region and the third largest in the world (after the USAF
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 and the Russian Air Force
Russian Air Force
The Russian Air Force is the air force of Russian Military. It is currently under the command of Colonel General Aleksandr Zelin. The Russian Navy has its own air arm, the Russian Naval Aviation, which is the former Soviet Aviatsiya Voyenno Morskogo Flota , or AV-MF).The Air Force was formed from...

). The largest operational units within the Aviation Corps is the air division, which has 2 to 3 aviation regiments, each with 20 to 36 aircraft. The surface-to-air missile
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

 (SAM) Corps is organized into SAM divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

 and brigade
Brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

s. There are also three airborne
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

 divisions manned by the PLAAF.

Second Artillery Corps



The Second Artillery Corps (SAC) is the strategic missile forces of the PLA. It controls China's nuclear
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 and conventional strategic missiles. China's total nuclear arsenal size is estimated to be between 100 and 400 nuclear weapons. The SAC has approximately 90,000-120,000 personnel and six ballistic missile divisions (missile corps bases). The six divisions are independently deployed in different military regions and have a total of 15 to 20 missile brigades.

People's Armed Police




The PAP is the paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 force primarily responsible for law enforcement and internal security
Internal security
Internal security, or IS, is the act of keeping peace within the borders of a sovereign state or other self-governing territories. generally by upholding the national law and defending against internal security threats...

 and is under a unique dual-leadership system of the Central Military Commission and local public security bureau
Public Security Bureau
In the People's Republic of China, a public security bureau refers to the government offices while the smaller offices are called Police posts which are similar in concept to the Japanese Kōban system) present in each province and municipality that handles policing , public security, and...

s (local police departments). The PAP was formed in 1983 when the PLA transferred its internal security and border defense responsibilities to the Ministry of Public Security
Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China
The Ministry of Public Security , is the principal police and security authority of the mainland of the People's Republic of China and the government agency that exercises oversight over and is ultimately responsible for day-to-day law enforcement...

. In wartime
Wartime
The term wartime could refer to:* Wartime, Saskatchewan, a small community in Saskatchewan, Canada.* Wartime Station, Saskatchewan, a small community in Saskatchewan, Canada.* A formal state of war, as opposed to peacetime...

, the PAP, as part of China's armed forces, would be used as light infantry
Light infantry
Traditionally light infantry were soldiers whose job was to provide a skirmishing screen ahead of the main body of infantry, harassing and delaying the enemy advance. Light infantry was distinct from medium, heavy or line infantry. Heavy infantry were dedicated primarily to fighting in tight...

, performing border defense and other support functions to assist the regular ground forces
People's Liberation Army Ground Force
The People's Liberation Army Ground Force is the land-based service branch of the People's Liberation Army. Its regular forces consist of 1.7 million personnel, with an additional 800,000 personnel in reserve, making it the largest active standing army in the world, and second largest in terms of...

.

In general, the PLA regular forces' main purpose is national defense and has rarely been used for internal security or police functions. Most such issues in the country however are handled by the paramilitary People's Armed Police. The instances in which the PLA has been used for non-military internal security duties have included several incidents during the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

 in the 1960s, Tibet in 1989, and with the Tiananmen Protests of 1989. Many times, the PLA has been involved in flood relief operations, particularly in the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

 region.

Conscription and terms of service



Technically, military service with the PLA is obligatory for all Chinese citizens. However, in practice it is entirely voluntary; because of China's large population and of the large number of individuals who volunteer to join the regular armed forces, the authorities have never enforced a draft. All 18-year-old males have to register themselves with the government authorities, in a way similar to the Selective Service System
Selective Service System
The Selective Service System is a means by which the United States government maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription. Most male U.S. citizens and male immigrant non-citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to have registered within 30 days of...

 of the United States.Article 13 of the Military Service Law of the People's Republic of China adopted on May 31, 1984. The main exception to this system applies to potential university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 students (male and female), who must undergo military training (usually for the duration of one to four weeks) before or one year after the commencement of their courses.

Article 55 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China
Constitution of the People's Republic of China
The Constitution of the People's Republic of China is the highest law within the People's Republic of China. The current version was adopted by the 5th National People's Congress on December 4, 1982 with further revisions in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004. Three previous state constitutions—those of...

 prescribes conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 by stating: "It is a sacred duty of every citizen of the People's Republic of China to defend his or her motherland and resist invasion. It is an honoured obligation of the citizens of the People's Republic of China to perform military service
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

 and to join the militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

forces."