Armed Forces of China
Profile of the armed forces of China
The People's Liberation Army of China (PLA)
is by far the largest national military in the world,
with over two million men and women stationed around the country.
The armed forces of China consists of five branches: Land
Force, Navy (PLAN), Air Force (PLAAF), Second Artillery
Corps, and the Reserved Force. All five branches fall under
the command of the Central Military Commission and are used
primarily for national defense. The Ministry of National
Defense has no authority over the PLA. Instead, it serves
as a liaison with foreign militaries.
The PLA Land Force is the world's largest
ground force and makes up about 70% of China's entire
military. The Land Force is reinforced by various
reserve and paramilitary units. Despite having its numbers
reduced by almost 200,000 in recent years, China has been
modernizing its ground forces with the latest combat
technology. They've also been exploring ways
of using existing equipment to defeat a more technologically-advanced
China's air capabilities have also been on the rise.
With help from the Russians and Israelis, China's
PLAAF has been able to upgrade and expand its fleet of fighters.
The PLAAF is currently the largest air force in Asia and
the 2nd largest in the world (after the US Military).
Once considered a subordinate to the much larger PLA Land
Force, the 250,000-personnel Navy (PLAN) has gone through
a rapid modernization of its own that started in the early
1990s. It is divided into three major fleets: the North
Sea Fleet, the East Sea Fleet, and the South Sea Fleet.
Each fleet is made up of surface ships, submarines, a naval
air force, and marine units.
The Second Artillery Corps is China's strategic
missile force. They control the country's
nuclear and conventional strategic arsenal, estimated to
be between 100 and 400.
In the past ten years, China's expanded military capability
has attracted a lot of world attention. With greater increases
in military spending, procurement of high-tech weapons,
and a greater importance on electronic and information warfare,
many experts believe China will become the next superpower
to challenge the US in military and strategic influence,
especially around Asia.
In 2002, the China opened two army barracks in Tianjin
to foreign media outlets. It was the first time in many
years that the Chinese barracks allowed so many foreign
journalists. Officers briefed the foreign press
on military history, training and joint military-civilian
projects as they toured dormitories, army
lockers and museums.