How Many Soldiers Are In The Chinese Army 2015

China is a global superpower and its military capabilities are second to none. With more than 2.3 million personnel, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the largest standing military in the world, and the size of its active personnel force rivals those of the United States and Russia. But what is the exact number of PLA personnel in 2015?

According to a recent report issued by the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, China has 2.29 million personnel serving in the PLA in 2015. This figure consists of 2.18 million active duty personnel and 100,000 additional servicemen who are on reserve status. These numbers also include 2.3 million personnel serving in the PLA Navy, 2.2 million serving in the PLA Air Force, and 2.3 million serving in the PLA Ground Force.

While China’s military budget has been increasing in recent years, the growth in the PLA’s personnel numbers has been slowing. In 2010, the PLA had 2.3 million active personnel, but this number dropped to 2.18 million in 2015 despite a larger military budget. The primary cause of this decline is an aging population. As Chinese birthrates decrease, the availability of personnel for military service is dwindling, thereby limiting the number of new recruits who can enter the PLA.

However, the decrease in the PLA’s personnel numbers does not mean that China is decreasing its military capabilities. In fact, the Chinese government has been increasing the number of military personnel available for deployment, the number of modern military equipment, and the overall readiness of the PLA in recent years. Additionally, China is experimenting with new tactics and doctrines, including the development of “informationized” military forces, space warfare capabilities, and cybersecurity strategies.

These actions suggest that China is preparing itself for a potential conflict and is also attempting to modernize its military. Additionally, China’s massive military budget and advanced military technology suggest that the PLA is well prepared to defend the country in times of conflict and coercion. Therefore, we can conclude that the decrease in personnel numbers is not necessarily reflective of China’s military strength.

Reallocation of Resources

The Chinese government’s emphasis on developing modern warfare capabilities has led to reallocation of resources from personnel to technology and hardware. While personnel have decreased, the Chinese military is investing heavily in modernizing its air, naval, and missile forces. In terms of hardware, China has caught up with the United States in several areas. For instance, the number of modern air defense systems and combat aircraft has reached similar levels as those of the United States.

The Chinese government has also shifted resources from personnel to technology and automation. The PLA is investing in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and autonomous weapon systems that can be operated remotely by fewer personnel. Many of these weapons are designed to operate alongside human soldiers, making them more effective in tandem than if they were to operate alone.

Additionally, the PLA is developing unmanned aircraft and sea vessels that can be used for reconnaissance and other military operations. These vessels come equipped with advanced sensors and cameras and are capable of performing missions autonomously. This allows the Chinese military to deploy fewer personnel for the same mission, thus reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

These new investments in robotics and automation demonstrate the Chinese government’s commitment to modernizing its military. The combination of fewer personnel, newer technologies, and automation means that the PLA will be able to respond to threats more quickly and with greater effect.

Implications of Fewer Personnel

The decline of the PLA personnel numbers has led to a decrease in the number of military recruits available to serve in the army. While the overall size of the active personnel force has decreased, the number of personnel available for deployment remains close to that of 2010, suggesting that China is still able to deploy enough personnel for major operations. The decrease in the force’s personnel numbers has also led to the Chinese military relying on reservists for certain operations.

Furthermore, the decrease in PLA personnel has forced the Chinese government to make important decisions regarding the type of personnel that it retains. For instance, the Chinese government has increasingly relied on professional soldiers and officers with more advanced skill sets. This allows the PLA to maintain its capabilities with fewer personnel.

Additionally, the Chinese government is experimenting with training non-military personnel for some military operations. This includes opening military academies for students and recruiting civilian personnel with specialized skills. These measures suggest that the Chinese government is attempting to make the most out of the available personnel.

Future Strategies

Given the decrease in the PLA’s personnel numbers, it is important for the Chinese government to formulate strategies to increase the number of personnel and maintain its capabilities. To that end, the Chinese government has implemented various measures to increase the number of personnel. This includes incentivizing enlistment and offering bonuses to those who join the military.

The Chinese government is also increasing the amount of military equipment available to personnel. This includes introducing new generations of light infantry equipment and modernizing the military’s air and naval capabilities. Additionally, the government is investing in the development of technologies such as cyber warfare and space warfare capabilities.

The Chinese government is also looking to the future by focusing on education, training, and retention programs for current and future personnel. The Chinese military is increasing its recruitment, as well as its operational tempo, in order to ensure that it can remain effective with fewer personnel. In addition, the PLA is investing in training exercises, both domestically and internationally, in order to increase the quality of its soldiers.


Since 2010, the number of personnel serving in the PLA has decreased from 2.3 million to 2.18 million in 2015. While the decrease in personnel numbers is not necessarily indicative of China’s military strength, it does suggest that the Chinese government is focussing on modernizing its military. By reallocating resources from personnel to technology and automation, China has been able to maintain its capabilities despite the decrease in personnel numbers. Going forward, the Chinese government must focus on developing strategies to increase the number of personnel and maintain its military capabilities.

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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