China’s Political Structure
China is among the most populous countries in the world with a population of more than 1.4 billion people and is gradually rising to become the world’s powerhouse. In recent years, China has experienced exponential economic growth and immense military modernization. As a result, it is no surprise that China currently possesses one of the world’s largest standing army, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The PLA is divided into the People’s Liberation Army Ground Forces, the People’s Liberation Army Navy, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, and the People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force. According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, China has the largest defense budget in the world, estimated to be around $261 billion in 2020. The PLA’s ground forces alone consist of more than 2 million personnel.
Historical Growth of Chinese Army
The Chinese military has a long history. In the 7th Century BCE during the Spring and Autumn period, Duke Huan of Qi and Duke Wen of Jin were two regional rulers who set up their own army to lead battles. This began a military tradition in which all subsequent dynasties relied on an army to build and maintain their power.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took control of the country in 1949 and adopted Mao Zedong’s military tactics to strengthen the PLA. After the Korean War, the CCP implemented reforms to restructure the army, including replacing traditional military hierarchy with a new leadership system that shifted control away from the Communist Party and placed it in the hands of Mao Zedong’s militaristic followers.
The Reforms of 1985 expanded the PLA’s manpower, improving training and effectiveness. This led to a massive surge in the size of the Chinese military, with the ground forces doubling in size by the year 2001. Today, the Chinese military has emerged as one of the world’s most powerful, boasting the latest technological advances and a wide array of weapons.
Reasons Behind Building The Chinese Army
The Chinese government has been investing heavily in its military in recent years, as part of a long-term strategy to bolster the Chinese economy and increase its global influence.
One reason for military expansion is the need to protect China’s borders and maintain territorial integrity. With numerous neighboring countries, the Chinese military must ensure its preparedness for any potential conflict. In addition, modern warfare requires a sophisticated technological capacity. China has been building up its army in order to have the most technologically advanced military in the world.
The recent advances in military technology have enabled China to accurately assess potential threats and develop the most effective strategies. This includes the use of artificial intelligence technology, which is playing an increasingly important role in the Chinese military.
The Role of Chinese Army
Today, the Chinese military is the primary instrument of China’s foreign and military policy. The PLA is a highly trained and well-equipped force, with a range of modern weapons and equipment at its disposal. It is also heavily involved in counter-terrorism operations, including anti-piracy operations in the South China Sea.
The Chinese military also plays a key role in defending China’s interests abroad. China regularly sends military personnel and equipment to other international hotspots in order to protect its overseas interests. For example, the Chinese military has provided the UN peacekeeping forces in South Sudan and Yemen with logistical support and personnel.
Since 2000, Chinese forces have taken part in a range of joint military exercises and peacekeeping missions. In 2012, Chinese forces also joined the US, Japan, and South Korea in the “Rim of the Pacific” naval exercises – one of the largest of its kind. In 2015, they participated in “Sea Breeze 2015”, a naval exercise conducted by the US and other NATO nations in the Black Sea.
Chinese forces have also been involved in international disaster relief operations, such as the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and have participated in several United Nations peacekeeping missions in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. In 2018, Chinese forces joined an ASEAN-led anti-piracy exercise near the Strait of Malacca.
The People’s Liberation Army is a formidable force and it is clear why the Chinese government invests heavily in it. With a strength of more than 2 million personnel and the most Technologically advanced weapons, the PLA is a force to be reckoned with. China’s expanding military capability is designed to protect its borders and extend its global reach and influence. By participating in joint military exercises and peacekeeping missions, China is demonstrating its commitment to international cooperation and global security.