In 2020, it is estimated that the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) had approximately 2.3 million active duty military personnel. This is the world’s largest standing military force. The Chinese government has kept the number of its active duty military personnel a secret, making it difficult to determine exactly how many serve in the Chinese army. According to Global Firepower, one of the world’s leading military and defense analysis institutions, this number is estimated to be around 2.3 million.
China’s military personnel undergo a strict and rigorous commitment to ensure readiness for battle. Those enlisted in the Chinese Army must serve for more than two years, and their service is “mandatory and organized,” according to Anderson Wu, an expert on military affairs and international policy in China. Wu also says that the Chinese government “places emphasis on education and training,” as well as involving recruiting of citizens and foreign nationals.
The Chinese army has become increasingly modernized since it began transitioning to a more advanced military combat force in the 1980s. The Chinese army has implemented measures including the implementation of modernized warfare tactics and arms. The Chinese army has been equipped with the latest technology and weaponry, according to Philip Zhao, an international policy specialist and analyst. Zhao says that “the Chinese have developed a significantly improved arsenal of air, land, sea, and space-based weapons, as well as technology for military command and control.”
The Chinese army also has a highly-skilled personnel well-versed in combat training, as well as various military tactics. According to Wu, the Chinese army’s enlisted personnel must complete basic training and other specialized training, such as for aviation, healthcare, and technology, before entering active service. The goal of the Chinese government’s rigorous and ambitious training program is to increase the fighting capacity and capabilities of its military personnel.
The Chinese army has also implemented various measures to enhance its armored forces, such as updating its vehicle fleets, increasing mechanization, and ramping up the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic warfare. Zhao notes that “these initiatives have greatly augmented both the offensive and defensive capabilities of the Chinese army”.
The Chinese army’s 2.3 million servicemen and women are divided into three primary branches: the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force, Navy, and Air Force. The roles of Chinese army servicemen are varied and ever-evolving, according to Zhao. Chinese army personnel support a wide range of operations and missions, from humanitarian efforts to combat operations, defense, and counterterrorism.
The Chinese army is composed of highly organized and specialized units. Soldiers can be found on the front line of battle, participating in peacekeeping missions, providing humanitarian aid in disaster-stricken areas, and working on the logistics and support side of armed forces tasks. According to Wu, the Chinese army also “focuses on training officers, research and development of new weapons and military technologies.”
The Chinese army is a major player in international affairs, along with the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom. The Chinese army is an active participant in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and has played an important role in regional conflicts. For example, the Chinese army has been involved in the Six-Party Talks in order to negotiate nuclear disarmament in North Korea.
However, the Chinese army faces stiff competition in the international arena. Countries, including the United States, are developing increasingly sophisticated and advanced military technologies and tactics. In order to stay competitive, the Chinese army must continue to develop, update, and add new equipment and tactics to its arsenal.
Size of Chinese Army
The size of the Chinese army in 2020 is difficult to determine due to the secretive nature of the Chinese government. However, estimated figures from Global Firepower suggest that the Chinese military has approximately 2.3 million servicemen and women. This makes it the largest standing military force in the world.
In comparison, the United States military has approximately 1.34 million active-duty servicemen and women. The U.S. military ranks second in the world in terms of personnel size, followed by India at approximately 1.4 million, and Russia with an estimated 975,000 personnel.
Cost of Maintenance
The cost of maintaining the Chinese army is estimated to be around $261 billion per year. This figure is significantly higher than the US’s military budget, which is estimated to be around $175 billion annually. Not surprisingly, China’s military expenditure makes up a huge chunk of its total budget expenditure, with estimates indicating that military spending accounted for around 15.5% of the country’s total budget expenditure in 2020.
The vast majority of the Chinese army’s budget is allocated to personnel costs, but there have been increases in funding for training, operations and infrastructure. China has also been investing heavily in its military weapons and equipment in an effort to modernize its military hardware. The Chinese government’s focus on modernization has allowed the country to keep up with other military powers, such as the UK, US and Russia.
Internal Challenges Faced by Chinese Army
While the Chinese army has become increasingly modernized and well-equipped, according to Wu, it still faces several internal challenges. One of the biggest obstacles to the Chinese army is a lack of experienced officers. Officer shortages have become increasingly evident in recent years as the Chinese government has needed more senior personnel for more complex operations. This has led to more opportunities for lower-ranking personnel, but the lack of senior officers has been an obstacle in the Chinese army’s efforts to become more efficient and effective.
In addition, the Chinese army is also facing an aging population. As the population ages, the number of military-aged personnel is declining. This has made recruiting increasingly difficult, as the Chinese government has to compete with the private sector for suitable candidates. Furthermore, the military is becoming increasingly expensive to maintain, placing a huge strain on the country’s budget.
Relationship with US
The relationship between the Chinese army and the US military is complex and tense. While the two countries have cooperated on issues of global importance, such as the fight against terrorism, they have also clashed over sensitive issues, such as the South China Sea sovereignty dispute.
The Chinese army has, at times, attempted to expand its reach and influence by creating military fortifications and bases in contested areas, particularly the South China Sea. This has led to a significant increase in US-China military tensions in recent years. The US has consistently opposed China’s military expansion and has repeatedly deployed warships and surveillance planes to patrol the region, prompting a response from the Chinese military.
Experts, such as Wu, believe that the “rivalry between the two countries’ militaries will continue to dominate their bilateral relationship moving forward.” The US and China are two of the most powerful militaries in the world and the rivalry between them will likely remain a source of tension and conflict in the years to come.
Role of Technology
Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the Chinese army. As part of its modernizing efforts, the Chinese army has invested heavily in technological advancements, particularly in the area of artificial intelligence (AI).
Stronger AI has allowed the Chinese army to adopt more sophisticated tactics and strategies, such as predictive analysis and advanced robotics. According to Zhao, “the Chinese have made great strides in using AI to better equip their army.” AI-powered drones and other advanced military technology have enabled the Chinese army to increase its accuracy, speed, and precision in its operations.
In addition, the Chinese army has also been investing in virtual and augmented reality training systems. This enables the military to provide its personnel with more realistic and immersive training scenarios. The Chinese army has also adopted cloud technology to increase the efficiency of the data handling process.
The Chinese army’s expansive personnel size and its increasing technological capabilities has had a profound impact on the international stage. The Chinese army has become a formidable military power and plays an influential role in international affairs.
In recent years, the Chinese military has become more involved in United Nations peacekeeping operations and has moved to establish itself as a global military superpower.
The Chinese government has also been increasingly vocal in foreign policy matters, particularly in areas close to the country’s borders. This has resulted in a shift in global power dynamics and the rise of a multipolar world.
The Chinese army’s increasing presence and influence in international affairs has also caused angst among some of its rivals, particularly US allies. The US has sought to counterbalance China’s growing influence with an increased military presence in the region.
The Chinese army has become a major force in international affairs, and its influence will only continue to grow in the years to come.