The PLA in a New Era

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS -

Born with his­toric sig­nif­i­cance, the PLA is an in­te­gral part of the blue­print of the re­ju­ve­na­tion of the Chi­nese na­tion and over the years has de­vel­oped at great scale. Af­ter the found­ing of the PRC, new mil­i­tary lead­er­ship sys­tem was also es­tab­lished.

Es­tab­lish­ment of Mil­i­tary Lead­er­ship Sys­tem

Af­ter the found­ing of the PRC, a new sys­tem of mil­i­tary lead­er­ship was also es­tab­lished. The Com­mon Pro­gram of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence es­tab­lished the mil­i­tary sys­tem of the PRC and for­mu­lated that the coun­try's uni­fied armed forces— the PLA and the peo­ple's pub­lic se­cu­rity forces— were both un­der the com­mand of the Peo­ple's Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion of the Cen­tral Peo­ple's Govern­ment and shared the same sys­tems, es­tab­lish­ments and dis­ci­plines. The Com­mon Pro­gram des­ig­nated the Peo­ple's Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion of the Cen­tral Peo­ple's Govern­ment with the ul­ti­mate au­thor­ity over the PLA and the high­est power to make strate­gic mil­i­tary guide­lines and lead na­tional de­fence and army build­ing.

Sub­or­di­nate or­gans of the Peo­ple's Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion in­cluded the Gen­eral Staff Depart­ment, the Gen­eral Po­lit­i­cal Depart­ment, and the Gen­eral Lo­gis­tics Depart­ment. They put into prac­tice the CPC Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion's strate­gic de­ci­sions and poli­cies and guide­lines. By the mid-1950s, the CMC had es­tab­lished eight ma­jor de­part­ments, in­clud­ing the Gen­eral Staff Depart­ment, the Gen­eral Depart­ment of Train­ing Su­per­vi­sion and the Armed Forces Su­per­vi­sion Depart­ment.

From 1957 to 1958, the Peo­ple's Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion ad­justed the es­tab­lish­ment and con­ducted merg­ers and re­sumed the pre­vi­ous or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­ture of the Gen­eral Staff Depart­ment, the Gen­eral Pol­i­tics Depart­ment and the Gen­eral Lo­gis­tics Depart­ment.

Mod­ernised PLA Con­struc­tion

Dur­ing times of war, both the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and the CPC Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion at­tached great im­por­tance to build­ing up peo­ple's armies. The found­ing

of the PRC and the peace­ful en­vi­ron­ment pro­vided favourable con­di­tions for modernising the way armies were built. On Septem­ber 21, 1949, Chair­man Mao Ze­dong pro­posed at the First Ple­nary Ses­sion of the Chi­nese Peo­ple's Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence (CPPCC): “On the ba­sis of the brave and time-tested Peo­ple's Lib­er­a­tion Army, we must re­serve and fos­ter peo­ple's armed forces. We will have a mighty ground force, air force and navy.” Since then, the PLA, aim­ing for sci­en­tific es­tab­lish­ment and im­prove­ments, adapted it­self to strate­gic sit­u­a­tions at home and abroad, as well as the coun­try's guide­lines and de­mands. By stream­lin­ing and re­or­gan­is­ing, the PLA has evolved from a quan­tity- ori­ented ground force to a mod­ern qual­ity- ori­ented army of in­te­grated ser­vice branches.

In De­cem­ber 1978, the Third Ple­nary Ses­sion of the 11th CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee con­firmed the shift of the CPC'S pri­or­ity to eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Ac­cord­ingly, the PLA also en­tered a new his­toric stage of de­vel­op­ment. At the en­larged meet­ing of the CPC Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion in Jan­uary 1979, Xu Xiangqian high­lighted that the mil­i­tary ver­sion of pri­ori­tis­ing the four mod­erni­sa­tions was to mod­ernise na­tional de­fence. Later, the Gen­eral Po­lit­i­cal Depart­ment of the CPC Cen­tral Milil­tary Com­mis­sion re­leased The Po­lit­i­cal Opin­ions on Trans­fer­ring the Key Pri­or­ity of the CPC, a doc­u­ment stip­u­lat­ing the whole army was en­cour­aged to ac­cel­er­ate mod­erni­sa­tion of na­tional de­fence and strive to be­come a mod­ern rev­o­lu­tion­ary army.

In Septem­ber 1981, Deng Xiaop­ing, then chair­man of the CPC Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion, de­liv­ered a speech at a mil­i­tary pa­rade in North China, defin­ing the gen­eral task and prin­ci­ple to build a strong, mod­ern and rev­o­lu­tion­ary army. In the speech, Deng stressed the ur­gent need to com­plete gen­eral tasks, cit­ing that the PLA is a strong pil­lar sup­port­ing the peo­ple's demo­cratic dic­ta­tor­ship and shoul­ders glo­ri­ous mis­sions to de­fend the so­cial­ist coun­try and the four mod­erni­sa­tions. Deng said that PLA should make prepa­ra­tions for re­sis­tance to in­va­sions, and strive to con­trib­ute to de­fend­ing world peace and home­land se­cu­rity and re­uni­fy­ing Tai­wan. The speech reaf­firmed rev­o­lu­tion, mod­erni­sa­tion and reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion as the PLA'S gen­eral task and prin­ci­ple and shed light on the di­rec­tion and ob­jec­tives of army build­ing.

Stream­lin­ing and Re­or­gan­i­sa­tion

At an en­larged meet­ing of the CPC Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion in June 1985, Deng Xiaop­ing an­a­lysed con­tem­po­rary sit­u­a­tions of war and peace and China's sur­round­ings and clearly pointed that de­spite the “ex­ist­ing risk of a pos­si­ble world war,” it was un­likely to “hap­pen on a large scale in the near fu­ture.” On the ba­sis of his sci­en­tific analy­ses, a de­ci­sion was made to change mil­i­tary guide­lines from pre­par­ing for large wars and even nu­clear wars to con­tribut­ing to world peace. The meet­ing con­sol­i­dated a con­sen­sus to fully seize the op­por­tu­nity of cur­rent world peace to work for the coun­try's mod­erni­sa­tion in a planned and pro­gres­sive way and in ac­cor­dance with na­tional eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, as well as to make per­son­nel cuts and im­prove sol­diers' qual­ity and fight­ing abil­i­ties in the mod­ern era.

To im­ple­ment the re­newed guide­line, the en­larged meet­ing of CPC Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion made a de­ci­sion to de­mo­bilise one mil­lion sol­diers and passed the Plan on the Re­form, Stream­lin­ing and Re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of Mil­i­tary Sys­tems. The plan pro­posed down­siz­ing prin­ci­ples: si­mul­ta­ne­ous re­forms of mil­i­tary sys­tems and re­lated sys­tems; pri­or­ity to sim­pli­fy­ing in­sti­tu­tions and sub­or­di­nate units, es­pe­cially head­quar­ters, mil­i­tary re­gions, types of arms and ser­vices, and or­gans and sub­or­di­nates of the Com­mis­sion for Science, Tech­nol­ogy and In­dus­try for Na­tional De­fence (COSTIND); sim­pli­fy­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tive struc­tures by re­mov­ing and merg­ing in­sti­tu­tions and down­grad­ing cer­tain in­sti­tu­tions; mak­ing out­dated equip­ment ob­so­lete, and seal­ing up cer­tain mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties; re­duc­ing ground forces, naval and air forces of troops, es­pe­cially those of gar­risons, the in­fantry and lo­gis­tics; stream­lin­ing es­tab­lish­ments by del­e­gat­ing cer­tain power to lo­cal

au­thor­i­ties; and im­prov­ing a well­bal­anced com­po­si­tion of troops and co­or­di­na­tion among dif­fer­ent ser­vices.

Un­der the lead­er­ship of the CMC, mil­i­tary in­sti­tu­tions across the coun­try made joint great ef­forts and achieved the stream­line tasks pro­posed at the en­larged meet­ing of 1985 in 1987.

The re­or­gan­i­sa­tion made spe­cial forces out­num­ber in­fantries to be­come the main mus­cle of the PLA ground forces. With the en­hance­ment of spe­cial forces and the com­bi­na­tion of dif­fer­ent ser­vices, group armies' abil­i­ties were greatly and com­pre­hen­sively im­proved in fir­ing, as­sault­ing, mo­bil­is­ing and de­fence.

Re­serve Force and Armed Po­lice Force

In Au­gust 1986, the Gen­eral Staff Depart­ment, the Gen­eral Po­lit­i­cal Depart­ment, and the Gen­eral Lo­gis­tics Depart­ment is­sued a no­tice which ex­plic­itly stip­u­lated that re­serve force would be in­cluded into the PLA with re­serve di­vi­sions and reg­i­ments des­ig­nated and given with flags. All the re­serve di­vi­sions and reg­i­ments were equipped with CPC com­mit­tees and un­der the lead­er­ship of CPC with lead­ing of­fi­cers as­sum­ing sep­a­rate re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Dis­tinc­tive from ac­tive armies and mili­tias, re­serve force largely com­prised vet­er­ans with some serv­ing of­fi­cers as cadres. In or­di­nary times, re­serve force plays a sup­ple­men­tary role in im­prov­ing quick mo­bil­ity. Dur­ing wartime, the re­serves are put into ac­tive ser­vice and given op­er­a­tional mis­sions.

In early 1986, the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, the State Coun­cil and the CPC Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion is­sued a doc­u­ment con­cern­ing the del­e­ga­tion of the Peo­ple's Armed Po­lice Force Depart­ment to lo­cal lev­els, with spe­cific pro­vi­sions on mat­ters such as in­sti­tu­tional set­ups, lead­er­ship, re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, se­lect­ing cadres, salar­ies and fund­ing, as well as the prac­tices and steps of the turnover to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. In March, the Peo­ple's Armed Po­lice Force Depart­ment, ex­cept those in bor­der re­gions, was placed un­der the joint lead­er­ship of the PLA and the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties (dis­tricts, coun­ties or cities) with no changes to its name and mis­sions.

In the sec­ond half of 1995, the Peo­ple's Armed Po­lice Force Depart­ment re­turned to the ju­ris­dic­tion of the PLA, ac­cord­ing to the State Coun­cil and the CMC'S de­ci­sions.

Dur­ing the mil­i­tary's re­or­gan­i­sa­tion, ef­forts were also made to im­prove the Chi­nese Peo­ple's Armed Po­lice Force. In 1982, the force was cre­ated by an amal­ga­ma­tion of the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity's bor­der con­trol and fire de­part­ments, as well as the in­ter­nal guard forces which were trans­ferred by the PLA to pub­lic se­cu­rity de­part­ments. In April 1983, the Chi­nese Peo­ple's Armed Po­lice Force Head­quar­ters was es­tab­lished. Mean­while, the armed po­lice force corps, de­tach­ments, brigades and squadrons were es­tab­lished across the coun­try from prov­inces, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and au­tonomous re­gions to cities, pre­fec­tures and leagues to coun­ties and ban­ners.

Like the PLA, the armed po­lice force also ex­e­cutes the Mil­i­tary Ser­vice Law of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China and fol­lows the CPC'S lead­er­ship. Its mis­sion is to safe­guard na­tional sovereignty, main­tain pub­lic se­cu­rity, de­fend na­tional se­cu­rity and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, and pro­tect Party and govern­ment of­fices, sig­nif­i­cant sites, and peo­ple's life and prop­er­ties. In or­di­nary times, the armed po­lice force car­ries out op­er­a­tions in co­op­er­a­tion with pub­lic se­cu­rity de­part­ments; and in the wartime, it will par­tic­i­pate in wars to­gether with the PLA. The trans­fer of some PLA units to armed po­lice force around 1985 helped im­prove the strate­gic or­der of na­tional armed forces and gave full play to their func­tions.

A Qual­ity Force

In the 1990s, the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and the CMC de­cided again to down­size the PLA in an ef­fort to adapt to the world's strate­gic pat­tern changes and mil­i­tary de­vel­op­ment trends, seize his­toric op­por­tu­ni­ties, ac­cel­er­ate build­ing up of

the army, stick to the fewer but bet­ter path with Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics, and re­alise the ma­jor mea­sures of modernising na­tional de­fence and mil­i­taries.

On Novem­ber 24, 2015, Xi Jin­ping, chair­man of the CPC Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion, an­nounced at a meet­ing about the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion re­form that the strat­egy of build­ing a strong army through re­form should be im­ple­mented and China would steadily take the road to build a strong army with Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics.

In Jan­uary 2016, ap­proved by Xi Jin­ping, the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion is­sued the Opin­ions on Deep­en­ing the Re­form of Na­tional De­fense and Army.

The Opin­ions stressed that since the 18th Na­tional Congress of the CPC, the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion fo­cused on PLA'S mod­ernised and stan­dard­ised con­struc­tion. They co­or­di­nated the con­struc­tion and util­ity of mil­i­tary force and econ­omy and na­tional de­fence con­struc­tion, for­mu­lated the strate­gic mil­i­tary guide­lines in the new sit­u­a­tion, pro­posed a se­ries of ma­jor prin­ci­ples, and made a num­ber of ma­jor de­ci­sions and de­ploy­ments. To im­ple­ment these de­ploy­ments and strate­gies re­quired deep­en­ing na­tional de­fence and army re­form and unswerv­ingly con­struct­ing a strong army.

The Opin­ions also pointed out that the guid­ing thoughts for deep­en­ing na­tional de­fence and army re­form in­cluded: im­ple­ment­ing the guide­lines from the 18th Na­tional Congress of the CPC and those of its third through sixth ple­nary ses­sions; tak­ing Deng Xiaop­ing The­ory, the The­ory of Three Rep­re­sents, and the Sci­en­tific Out­look on De­vel­op­ment as the guide; putting into prac­tice the prin­ci­ples from Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Xi Jin­ping's ma­jor ad­dresses, par­tic­u­larly the state­ments on na­tional de­fence and mil­i­tary con­struc­tion. It also re­quired solv­ing the sys­tem­atic and struc­tural con­flicts and pol­icy is­sues that lim­ited the de­vel­op­ment of na­tional de­fence and army de­vel­op­ment ac­cord­ing to the re­quire­ments of “Four Com­pre­hen­sives.” All these aimed to pro­mote the mod­erni­sa­tion of army or­gan­i­sa­tion, lib­er­ate and de­velop com­bat ef­fec­tive­ness, strengthen army's vi­tal­ity, and build a strong army and pow­er­ful na­tional de­fence that com­ply with the coun­try's in­ter­na­tional stan­dard and na­tional safety and in­ter­ests. The strong na­tional de­fence and army will pro­vide a solid foun­da­tion for re­al­is­ing the Two Cen­te­nary Goals and the great re­ju­ve­na­tion of the Chi­nese na­tion.

The Opin­ions em­pha­sised that the deep­en­ing of na­tional de­fence and mil­i­tary re­form should stick to the fol­low­ing ba­sic prin­ci­ples: the right po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tion, ori­en­ta­tion to com­bat, in­no­va­tion, sys­tem de­sign, rule of law and sta­bil­ity.

The Opin­ions pointed out that the over­all ob­jec­tive of deep­en­ing na­tional de­fence and mil­i­tary re­form is to pro­mote re­form of the size and com­po­si­tion of the armed forces, the pol­icy sys­tem and deeply in­te­grated mil­i­tary and civil­ian de­vel­op­ment in a co­or­di­nated man­ner fo­cus­ing on re­form of the lead­er­ship man­age­ment sys­tem and joint com­bat com­mand sys­tem. By 2020, break­throughs in the lead­er­ship man­age­ment sys­tem and joint com­bat com­mand sys­tem and ma­jor achieve­ments in op­ti­mis­ing the size and com­po­si­tion of the armed forces, im­prov­ing the pol­icy sys­tem and pro­mot­ing deeply in­te­grated mil­i­tary and civil­ian de­vel­op­ment will be made to build a mod­ern sys­tem of mil­i­tary forces with Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics ca­pa­ble of win­ning in­for­ma­tion wars and fur­ther im­prove the so­cial­ist mil­i­tary sys­tem with Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics.

The Opin­ions spec­i­fies the main tasks with re­spect to the lead­er­ship man­age­ment sys­tem, the joint com­bat com­mand sys­tem, the size and com­po­si­tion of the armed forces, the task or­ga­ni­za­tion of the troops, cul­ti­va­tion of new mil­i­tary tal­ents, the pol­icy sys­tem, in­te­grated mil­i­tary and civil­ian de­vel­op­ment, the Armed Po­lice Force's com­mand and man­age­ment sys­tem and struc­ture and the mil­i­tary law sys­tem.

Ac­cord­ing to the Opin­ions, deep­en­ing na­tional de­fence and mil­i­tary re­form is a rev­o­lu­tion­ary change and must be car­ried out un­der the uni­fied lead­er­ship of the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, the CPC Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion ; it was nec­es­sary to im­ple­ment the prin­ci­ple of re­form meet­ings of the CPC Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion, strengthen ed­u­ca­tion, unify our think­ing, con­trol risks and ad­vance var­i­ous re­form mea­sures in ac­cor­dance with the law; a strong or­gan­i­sa­tional lead­er­ship will en­sure that the com­ple­tion of re­form tasks.

On Jan­uary 11, 2016, when Xi Jin­ping met with re­spon­si­ble per­sons of de­part­ments of the CPC Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion, he stressed that im­ple­ment­ing mil­i­tary strate­gic prin­ci­ples un­der a new sit­u­a­tion must fo­cus on the aim of build­ing a strong na­tional de­fence of the CPC; work­ing hard to build a pow­er­ful de­part­ments of the CPC Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion will make a con­tri­bu­tion to re­al­i­sa­tion of the Chi­nese dream.

Ac­cord­ing to re­form prepa­ra­tions, the head­quar­ters sys­tem will be ad­justed and re­placed by a multi-depart­ment sys­tem, ground forces lead­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions will be es­tab­lished, the man­age­ment sys­tem of dif­fer­ent mil­i­tary ser­vices will be im­proved, the lay­out of the­atres will be re­newed, united com­bat com­mands among dif­fer­ent the­atres/mil­i­tary com­mis­sions will be or­gan­ised, and the “mil­i­tary com­mis­sion-theatre com­mand-troop” com­bat com­mand sys­tem and the “mil­i­tary com­mis­sion-mil­i­tary ser­vice-troop” lead­er­ship sys­tem will be es­tab­lished.

In line with re­form re­quire­ments, Chi­nese troops will make ma­jor achieve­ments in op­ti­mis­ing scale and struc­ture, im­prov­ing poli­cies and sys­tems, and deep­en­ing mil­i­tary-civil­ian in­te­gra­tion by 2020. It's pre­dictable that “af­ter these re­forms, the Chi­nese army will be­come a mod­ern and ef­fi­cient army with the abil­i­ties to win the war of the in­for­ma­tion age.”

The Third Ple­nary Ses­sion of the 11th CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee was held in Bei­jing in De­cem­ber 1978.

Deng Xiaop­ing, then chair­man of the CPC Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion, over­sees the troops in 1981.

The Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Armed Po­lice Force

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.