How Big Is Chinese Army

When we think about the Chinese Army, it’s impossible to avoid the question – How Big Is Chinese Army? In terms of sheer manpower, China has the largest military in the world today, with an estimated 2.35 million active duty personnel. But when it comes to size, the Chinese Army has actually decreased in recent years. This is, however, far from being a sign of any weakening in their capabilities.

When we look to understand the infrastructure of the Chinese Army, as well as their power projection capabilities, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, we must understand the land based army of the People’s Liberation Army ( PLA). This is the largest branch of the Chinese military, and the core of their armed forces. It currently comprises of ground troops, air force, navy, strategic missile force, and space forces.

In terms of their involvement in international affairs and engagement in warfare, the Chinese Army is highly active. For example, China has been one of the few countries to actively participate in UN Peacekeeping missions over the past few years, showing their commitment to international security.

Whilst the size of the Chinese Army might not be what it once was, their capabilities in terms of arms and technology remain highly impressive. In particular, China’s focus on modernizing and improving their air force has been particularly noteworthy, with the introduction of the 5th generation stealth J-20 fighter jet being a prime example.

The Chinese Army have also invested heavily in improving their electronic warfare capabilities, as well as in their own cyber security and cyber warfare tools. This shows a strategic commitment to being at the cutting-edge of military technology and staying ahead of their enemies.

Ultimately, the Chinese Army’s capabilities and expertise far outstrip that of any other country. Whilst the size of the Chinese Army today is much smaller than it was historically, the strength of their force is undeniable. Modern weaponry and military technological advancements have enabled China to become one of the most formidable fighting forces in the world.

China’s Military Spending

Another factor to consider, when looking at the strength of the Chinese Army, is their military spending. China is the world’s second-largest defence spender in terms of sheer monetary value, behind the United States. In 2020, China’s military budget was estimated at $261 billion – just behind the US’s estimated budget of $740 billion.

This should not, however, come as a surprise. China’s total military expenditure has been steadily increasing over the past decade, and looks set to continue its trajectory upwards in future. This has in part been due to their pursuit of modernizing, upgrading and increasing their armed forces. This has seen vast investment in various areas, such as weapons systems, modernization of bases, and training exercises designed to improve their capabilities.

The Strategic Support Force of the PLA is, perhaps, the most eye-catching example of this. It is a military branch dedicated to providing technological, communication and logistics support, and has been especially optimized for ‘strategic near-terminator’ missions. This demonstrates an astounding capability of the Chinese Army, and shows the lengths they are prepared to go to in order to achieve success.

Ultimately, China’s increasing military expenditure has been an essential regularity in stabilizing their development and absolute power, and has in part led to their reputation as a superpower on the global stage.

Economic Impact of Chinese Military

When we think about the Chinese Army, we must also consider the economic impact of their actions. In terms of employment, the Chinese military provides around 1.2 million jobs – just over 0.8% of global jobs and around 5% of Chinese jobs overall. This shows the importance of China’s military, both in terms of protecting their own country and in terms of economic prosperity.

Not only does their military presence provide jobs, it also has a hugely beneficial economic impact in terms of stimulating the economy. For instance, Chinese military equipment is a huge export industry, one which accounts for around 10% of the nation’s exports. This includes military technology and hardware, such as fighter jets and missiles, as well as intelligence services and other security related expertise.

In terms of imports, around 6% of all China’s imports are related to military purposes. It is worth noting, however, that this is much lower than other countries such as the US, which imports over twice as much. To help power their troops and forces, military fuel is a significant industry, with taxes on fuel sales providing a valuable form of income.

Overall, the Chinese military’s presence in China’s society has an undeniable effect on its economic growth, providing jobs, income, export opportunities and other economic growth.

Chinese Military’s Impact on International Relations

Finally, when looking at the Chinese Army, it is important to examine the effects it has on international relations. On the one hand, China’s military has been foundational in helping to foster better relationships in the world. For instance, Chinese President Xi Jinping has repeatedly advocated for a ‘harmonious world’, a concept which refers to a world of mutual understanding, respect and friendly relations between countries.

This is in part reflected in their military tactics and strategies. China is renowned for its commitment to peaceful interventions in global affairs, and is one of the only countries to have successfully held back war in any conflict to date. For example, when North Korea threatened to launch missiles at the US in 2017, the Chinese military provided an invaluable stabilizing force, ultimately helping to restore peace and assisting the US in negotiations.

On the other hand, some analysts are concerned that China’s increasing military power is a cause for concern. This is in part due to their expanding naval presence in South East Asia, which has been a source of unease amongst many of their neighbors. Whilst some of these actions can be justified under the guise of protecting their interests, many are concerned that this could be the start of increasing tension and even a potential conflict.

China’s Nuclear Capabilities

To understand the Chinese Army’s capabilities, it is important to look at their nuclear capabilities. China is estimated to have up to 270 nuclear warheads in its possession, making it the third largest nuclear power in the world. This gives them the potential to cause mass destruction in a very short period, and is seen by some as a major cause for concern.

China’s nuclear capabilities extend beyond warheads, however. They have invested heavily in submarine technology, with their fleet now containing both nuclear-powered attack submarines and ballistic-missile submarines. This gives China a secure second-strike capability and ensures their nuclear forces are highly protected.

Most concerningly, China has been actively modernizing its nuclear arsenal, with the development of new missile delivery systems such as the DF-41 and the JL-3. This has caused particular alarm amongst some of China’s neighbors, fearing a potential escalation of conflict in the region.

Whilst China’s nuclear capabilities remain a cause for concern, the country has formed a traditionally peaceful approach when dealing with potential conflict. They have repeatedly refused to enter into any form of nuclear arms race, instead choosing to focus their efforts on improving their conventional forces and diplomatic relations.

Improving Military Technology

China is renowned for its commitment to improving its military technology, and their Army has invested heavily in this area. One particular example of this is their improved air power capabilities. The Chinese Air Force (PLAAF) is currently the third-largest in the world when we look at number of aircraft, behind the United States and Russia. This includes the J-20 fighter jet, a fifth-generation stealth aircraft designed for precision strikes.

In terms of advanced missile technology, China has also taken great strides forward. This includes the development of the Dongfeng series of ballistic missiles, which are capable of travelling over 4,000 km, as well as their range of satellite-guided missiles and drones. This demonstrates the Chinese Army’s commitment to achieving strategic capabilities, and staying at the top of the latest military technology.

China’s Army has also improved its intelligence gathering capability, with the establishment of a specialist military counterintelligence unit. This unit is currently tasked with monitoring political threats, carrying out security intelligence research, and seeking out potential risks to their arms and forces.

Going forward, we can expect the Chinese Army to continue investing heavily in military technology, with some analysts suggesting that their future arms purchases could be worth billions of dollars. This could enable China to become a superpower when it comes to military technology, and help shape the future of warfare.

The Long-Term Strategies of the Chinese Army

When looking at the Chinese Army and their vision for the future, there are a number of key strategic priorities. Firstly, China is focused on creating a strong, well-equipped and prepared force of land, air and sea forces. This is an essential step in achieving their goal of becoming the preeminent military power in the world.

As China continues to develop its economy, they are also looking to their military to help provide strategic defenses and support. This includes investment in counter-terrorism, cyber-defense and submarine warfare. Not only does this demonstrate their commitment to global security, it also enables China to better protect their own strategic interests.

Looking ahead, China’s military will also focus heavily on modernizing its forces. This will ensure their troops and forces remain at the top of their game and capable of dealing with any form of conflict or threat. For instance, China is expected to prioritize investment in advanced weapons, technological advancement and cyber-security capabilities.

In terms of the longer-term vision of the Chinese Army, they are clearly focused on creating a dominant fighting force both in terms of size and in terms of technological capabilities. This is essential in both protecting the nation’s sovereignty and in helping to maintain a balance of power in the region.

Letha Wimmer is a military expert with more than a decade of direct experience in the U.S. Army and National Guard. She specializes in researching and writing about the world's armies and their capabilities, equipment, capabilities, strategies, organizations, and operations. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation from Middle Tennessee State University as well as an Aerial Firefighting Certificate and numerous other advanced aviation certifications. She also enjoys traveling to distant lands to gain firsthand knowledge about their military forces and has written extensively for various websites on the subject.

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