How Many Generals In Chinese Army

A Chinese Perspective

In any large-scale military organization like the Chinese Army, generals are integral to the successful execution of strategic and tactical goals. China has made considerable progress from its early years, when it had only two or three generals leading the entire army, to today when its impressively sized military force is led by hundreds of generals across its four major branches. These branches are the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the People’s Armed Police (PAP), the People’s Liberation Army Reserve (PLAR), and the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF).

Throughout its history, China has remained relatively consistent in its ability to identify and appoint high-ranking generals. This consistency is characterized by its strict promotion system, which requires its high-ranking officers to be nominated and approved by the Central Military Commission prior to ascending to their posts. When fostering leader transitions, the Chinese Army considers the individual’s previous conduct, performance, and tactical and strategic achievements.

The Chinese Army invests considerable resources into the development and training of its generals. Officers are required to take comprehensive courses in military theory, tactics, human resources management, and strategic development to gain the skills necessary to become a successful general. These skills are tested extensively throughout the training program, with officers must meeting set benchmarks prior to becoming generals. It is only once they have achieved the elite “ general” status that they are then ready to lead the army.

In recent years, the Chinese Army has invested heavily into the development of its technological capabilities, such as drones and artificial intelligence (AI). This has been done in an effort to keep up with the advancement of military tactics and allow China to remain competitive in the international landscape. As such, China has begun to prioritize the appointment of generals who have been trained in the use of new technologies and who possess the skills to integrate them into the army’s systems.

In 2019, the Chinese Army had more than 1,100 generals of all ranks. This makes the Chinese Army one of the largest general-led militaries in the world and places it in a position of strength in the international landscape. As a result, the Chinese Army is able to access a wide range of resources and support from both within and outside its borders. This, in turn, has enabled it to expand its operations and foster global relationships.


A career as a general in the Chinese Army is a difficult but rewarding one. Generals are required to fulfill a wide range of tasks, from the tactical execution of ground campaigns to the strategic leadership of the entire army. In this regard, the working conditions of a general are unlike those of any other profession. Generals are expected to be constantly prepared to deploy or travel, oftentimes for extended periods of time. They must also remain academically knowledgeable and maintain the highest standards of physical and mental fitness.

The leadership capabilities of generals are tested frequently and their conduct and performance evaluated regularly. For these reasons, the generals’ lifestyle is often described as that of a true “military elite”. This includes a rigorous schedule that involves rising early and regular physical training, balanced with long working hours. In this manner, the generals are expected to demonstrate the highest level of dedication and commitment to the army and its objectives.

Upon appointment, general-level officers receive increased responsibility with regard to the supervision and training of troops, the planning and execution of operations, the development and implementation of strategies, and the management of the army’s personnel and finances. Generals are also actively involved in international relations and the overall development of the Chinese military. They are expected to stay abreast of the changing international political and security circumstances, maintain relationships with foreign officials, and help shape the future objectives of the Chinese Army.


The benefits of becoming a general are considerable. The high-ranking officers of the Chinese Army are privileged with respect, influence, and power. They are provided with larger salaries and more extensive resources than private-level officers in order to support their development and maintenance of a successful military career. Generals also have greater leeway when it comes to decision-making and are provided with more extensive opportunities to develop and alter strategies.

Beyond the advantages linked to their occupation, generals in the Chinese Army also gain access to additional privileges, such as access to private housing, health-care benefits, and additional vacation days. These perks help to further distinguish general-level officers from the rest of the army, enabling them to lead their troops with the required degree of respect, discipline, and honour.

Generals in the Chinese Army are held in high regard, due to their decades of military service. As a testament to the valuable leadership provided by these officers, the Chinese Government acknowledges figures such as Field Marshal Xu Xiangqian, a legendary war hero and politician who contributed to the foundation of the People’s Republic of China.


Despite the Chinese Army’s commitment to appointing able and effective generals, the military service has recently been subject to criticism. Reports have surfaced that the leadership of the Chinese Army is increasingly becoming contaminated by personal financial and political interests, which can have a detrimental effect on the quality of its service. Additionally, foreign military service members, who may lack the relevant experience and expertise required to serve in the Chinese Army, have been appointed to General positions.

Furthermore, allegations of corruption and nepotism remain a significant concern for the Chinese Army. The prevalence of problems such as bribery and the exchange of illicit gifts has led to a general decrease in public confidence in the performance of the army. This has caused many members of the public to call for increased transparency and accountability within the service.

While there are undoubtedly issues to be resolved, the Chinese Army continues to remain a strong and efficient force. Its commitment to appointing experienced and dedicated officers has enabled it to remain one of the most powerful militaries in the world. And with more than 1,100 generals leading its ranks, the Chinese Army remains unrivalled in terms of sheer manpower.


Generals in the Chinese Army receive a range of privileges, including extensive lodging and domestic facilities, first-class medical and healthcare provisions, and other benefits that are unavailable to lower ranking personnel. These privileges are intended to reinforce the generals’ authority and ensure they have access to the resources they require in order to maintain their effectiveness. Generals have exclusive access to the leadership awards and promotions, which are typically awarded to only a select few.

These privileges are designed to entice the appointment of highly-qualified candidates to the highest ranks of the army. In this regard, generals are encouraged to maintain exemplary conduct and performance, as any serious misconduct or failure to adhere to regulations can lead to the revocation of these privileges.

The decision to award privileges to generals is indicative of the significance the Chinese Army places on these officers. By recognizing the achievements of its generals, the army can attract top-tier candidates to its ranks and ensure that the army remains competitive in the international landscape.


The resources allocated to the Chinese Army have increased dramatically in recent years, with the defense budget quadrupling since the turn of the millennium. In 2019, the Chinese government allocated more than $200bn to the military, making it the second-biggest defense budget in the world. This vast war chest is used to fund a variety of military operations and initiatives, from international exercises to technological research.

A significant portion of this budget is allocated directly to the generals. This money is used to finance their salaries, housing and living costs, as well as their transportation costs if they have to travel to complete their duties. Additionally, the generals have access to special military funds and fleet allocations, which enable them to procure the materials and resources required to effectively plan and execute operations.

By increasing the budget allocated to the Chinese Army, the Chinese government has enabled it to become a truly formidable force in the Pacific region. This heightened financial influence has enabled it to make considerable advancements in the quality, range, and size of its military capabilities.


In addition to funding from the government, the Chinese Army also receives a variety of contributions from civilian sources. This includes donations from businesses, philanthropic organisations, and private citizens. Across all branches of the army, these contributions often come in the form of money, food, medical supplies, and other resources, with some of these donations being provided on a regular basis.

The army has also been able to use some of this money to fund the promotion of its leaders, enabling them to receive higher salaries and gain access to additional benefits. The money has also been used to fund recruitment initiatives and improve the training equipment, infrastructure, and general services available to the army.

The support of civilian organisations has enabled the Chinese Army to increase its financial strength, while also gaining increased public approval. This heightened public support, in turn, helps the army attract more qualified personnel to its ranks and foster better relations with the civilian population.


The Chinese Army’s commitment to appointing dedicated and experienced generals has enabled it to become one of the leading military forces in the world. This impressive feat has been achieved through decades of hard work and the dedication of its generals, who have enabled the army to remain competitive in the international landscape. As such, the legacy of the Chinese Army is one of greatness and unrelenting strength.

The army has also been able to use its financial resources to foster better conditions for its personnel and improve its operational efficiency. In this regard, the army has invested in improved training facilities, medical provisions, technological advancements, and other measures that have enabled it to offer its personnel comfortable and secure working conditions, for which the generals have deservedly received a significant portion of the thanks.

In light of this, it stands to reason that the Chinese Army will remain a powerful and revered force for many years to come. This is a testament to the commitment of its generals and their dedication to maintaining and strengthening the army’s excellence.

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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