China continues to expand its military presence.
- With the People’s Liberation Army, China has the largest armed force in the world.
- China has been heavily arming the military for years.
- In addition to the navy and air force, digitalized warfare is also being developed.
Beijing – The Chinese military, the People’s Liberation Army, or VBA, is one of the most powerful armies in the world. Armament has been one of China’s most important political goals for many years. With a strong army, the People’s Republic wants to be able to defend its territory from other states in the Pacific region and above all from the USA. In addition, China is investing more and more in its military and will increase armaments spending by a further 6.8 percent in the next few years. China is also investing heavily in defending against cyber attacks and developing innovative technologies for war in a digitized world.
People’s Liberation Army: China’s military continues to arm
The People’s Liberation Army is the army of the People’s Republic of China and the largest numerical army in the world. The army has existed since 1927, but has officially only been known as the People’s Liberation Army since October 1, 1949. China has been upgrading its army since the 1960s. China’s goal in the future is to provide not only the largest, but also the most modern army in the world. Above all, China is expanding its presence in the South China Sea. This leads to increased tension, especially with the USA. It’s about raw materials, shipping routes and geostrategic advantages.
At the moment, China continues to invest in its army, particularly in the navy. For example in the construction of aircraft carriers and military bases on the high seas. In addition, the state is striving to develop all weapon systems in-house in the future and to import neither finished weapons nor know-how from other countries. For example, China wants to break away from its dependencies on Russia.
People’s Liberation Army: The Equipment of the Chinese Military
The Chinese army is growing steadily and receiving more and more personnel and technology. The army has 2.2 million soldiers and 1.4 million reservists. In the event of war, China could draw in an additional 6 million conscripts. The military budget is $ 261 billion annually. China has one of the best-equipped air forces and the largest air defenses. In terms of military spending, the number of nuclear missiles and the number of aircraft carriers, however, China lags behind the US.
The People’s Liberation Army is one of the nuclear powers. However, China asserts that it only wants to use nuclear weapons for defense and not for attack. According to official information, the state does not want to participate in the nuclear arms race. In contrast, China is massively expanding other areas of the People’s Liberation Army. This is also an important part of the 14th Five-Year Plan, in which China plans the development of the years 2021-2025. China intends to increase military spending by 6.8 percent during this period and, above all, to strengthen the navy and maritime air forces.
People’s Liberation Army: straight line in the Chinese military
The highest body of the armed forces is the Central Military Commission, which is closely connected to the Communist Party and has its seat in the VBA building in Beijing.
The Chinese parliament, the national people’s congress, elects the chairman of the central military commission. The ranks in the Chinese military are similar to those of other armies and essentially correspond to the ranks of the German military. The lowest rank is the cadet, who is called “Xue Yuan” in China. If a soldier has the addition “Hai Jun” in his name, this indicates that he is a member of the Navy. So a soldier with the rank of “Hai Jun Xue Yuan” is a cadet in the Navy.
Other ranks of the Chinese army:
- Lieutenant: Shao Wie
- First Lieutenant: Zhong How
- Captain: Shang How
- General: Shang Jiang
People’s Liberation Army: China’s tanks
Today there are over 6,300 tanks in the Army of the People’s Republic. China started importing tanks as early as 1900. The development of its own tanks began after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, when the young state received support from the Soviet Union to build the People’s Liberation Army. The first Chinese tanks were based on the Soviet T-54A tank. In the 1960s, China brought its own developments onto the market with tanks 80, 85 and 88. The third generation of Chinese tanks began with the development of the Model 90, which China mainly exported to Pakistan.
In addition to classic battle tanks, China is currently also using so-called support tanks, such as the QN-506. This type of tank specializes in warfare in urban areas and is better able to maneuver in narrow streets. China calls the QN-506 the “new king of war”. The tank carries various weapon systems that are not used in classic battle tanks, such as missiles for defense against helicopters and an armed drone.
People’s Liberation Army: War on the Net
Digitization is also changing the way states wage war. In rearming the People’s Liberation Army, China is relying on innovative technologies and the new possibilities of a digitized and networked world. China sees its own systems in particular at risk. All networks are potentially vulnerable and could be attacked by foreign forces or terrorists. For example, power plants, research facilities or public transport are particularly sensitive. That is why China is building complex security systems to protect such networks from attacks.
To strengthen its own army in the event of an attack, China uses artificial intelligence that can make tactical decisions easier. The technology also calculates potential threats to predict which conflicts will pose a threat in the next few years. China is also relying more and more on digitization for espionage. The USA is always the target, but Canada, Australia and India have also reported Chinese cyberattacks.
People’s Liberation Army: The Chinese Navy
The Chinese Navy is the largest in the world and comprises over 200,000 soldiers and 350 warships and submarines. In addition to digitization, arming the navy is China’s most important military goal. China wants to defend its areas in the South China Sea. In the coastal area near Taiwan, for example, new military bases and bases are being built on island chains.
The fight against piracy is also an important task of the Chinese Navy. To this end, China is cooperating with NATO and the United States and showing activities in Australian waters. In other areas, too, China is working to equip the Navy for more international missions at sea.
People’s Liberation Army: Aircraft Carrier in China
China currently has two active aircraft carriers, Liaoning and Shandong. China imported the Liaonging aircraft carrier from Ukraine and uses the ship primarily for training purposes and for testing war maneuvers. The Shandong ship is the first aircraft carrier that China developed independently. He has been part of the Chinese army since April 26, 2017. The deck of the aircraft carrier can hold up to 32 combat aircraft and 12 helicopters. China reveals little about the exact nature of the Shandong operations. All that is known is that the army is rehearsing maneuvers in the South China Sea with the Shangdong.
In addition to the two active aircraft carriers, China is currently building at least three more ships that work with the CATOBAR system. The aircraft use a catapult installed on the aircraft carrier to take off instead of a conventional runway. That saves space on the ship. Observations from military satellites suggest that two of the ships use nuclear reactors as their propulsion system. The government does not announce when the ships will be launched.
People’s Liberation Army: The Chinese Air Force
The Chinese Air Force includes over 250,000 soldiers and 1,624 fighter planes. Particularly important is the Xian H-6K bomber, which military observers say can drop atomic bombs. The Chinese paratroopers also belong to the Air Force, and the German-language channel of the China Internet Information Center also reports on their exercises on Twitter:
– China.org.cn German (@germanchinaorgc) March 27, 2014
Today, China is increasingly relying on drones in the Air Force and is taking a lead in developing this technology in its own research facilities. The Chinese government reveals little here. What is clear, however, is that the People’s Liberation Army is using reconnaissance drones and other armed drones. The army is also currently working on the further development of a transport drone.
Another important component of the Chinese Air Force is air defense. Here China takes the global leadership position. China has 96 air defense systems from Russia and uses 32 independently developed anti-aircraft missiles. A network of radar systems and satellites controls the air defense over the entire mainland and over the South China Sea. The People’s Liberation Army protects sensitive facilities such as military bases, key industries and research centers with its own anti-aircraft positions.
People’s Liberation Army: China’s military clout
How does the Chinese army compare internationally? The Global Firepower Index measures how strong an army is. A country’s military clout results from numerous factors. On the one hand from the number, type and quality of the weapons. The availability of ammunition and supplies is also a factor in assessing the effectiveness. Added to this are the quality of the leadership and the number and experience of soldiers.
In terms of numbers, the People’s Liberation Army has overtaken all other armies. It is still unclear whether it can also prove itself in the areas of leadership and training of the armed forces. Better preparation of soldiers for different scenarios is currently an important part of military planning. Overall, China only measures itself against the USA and Russia. China’s military budget is increasing, but is currently only one sixth of the US budget. Especially when it comes to aircraft carriers, nuclear explosives and airplanes, China lags far behind Russia and the USA.