People’s Liberation Army of China | By Tariq Aqil 

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People’s Liberation Army of China


THE long brutal and catastrophic civil war in China finally came to an end in January 1949.

The communist forces under the command of Mao Ze Dong and other stalwarts of the Communist Party of China (CPC) took control of Peking (now Beijing) and the People’s Republic of China was officially declared.

The nationalist Chinese under Chiang Kai Sheik fled to Taiwan and were officially recognized by the USA and the western democracies as the true representatives of the Chinese nation.

Immediately after forming the first Communist Government in China, Chairman Mao and his lieutenants turned their attention to the reorganization, modernization and expansion of the armed forces.

The People’s Liberation Army of China has just celebrated its 94th birthday with great fanfare and the truth is they do have a lot to be proud of in the service of their country and nation.

The PLA is the unified armed organization of China consisting of the land sea and air forces and today it is perhaps the largest military force in the world.

The PLA is a force of approximately two million men and women divided into four services that is: PLA army, PLA navy, PLA Air Force, and the PLA Rocket Force and it includes two sub-service forces The Strategic Support Force responsible for cyber, electronic, information and space and counter space operations and the Joint Logistics Support Force.

Chinese military is also in command of a formidable nuclear arsenal and delivery systems capable of operating from land air or sea.

The People’s Liberation Army has a long history of sacrifice, valour and blood and it has not been an easy journey to become one of the world’s finest most feared fighting machine.

The roots of this great army can be traced back to 1927 during the Nanchang uprising of the communists against the nationalist forces of General Chiang Kai Shek.

In the very early stages the PLA was called the Red Army and under the command of Chairman Mao and the Marshal Zhu De it started to grow from a mere 5000 soldiers in 1929 to a force to be reckoned with of 200000 battle hardened troops in 1933.

This was the time when the valiant embattled Chinese communists under Chairman Mao made a heroic break through the much bigger nationalist enemy lines and began a heroic epic march from their encircled headquarters in South West China and this great feat of human endurance is known as the “Long March” lasted which 368 days and covered over 6000 miles.

The early members of the People’s Liberation Army crossed 24 rivers and 18 mountain ranges, while fighting all the time and trying to fend off a much bigger and better armed enemy force.

This was the longest continuous march in the history of warfare and on its culmination it confirmed the status of Mao Ze Dong as the undisputed leader of the Chinese nation.

The heroism and determination of the marchers motivated many thousands of young Chinese to enlist in the Red army or the initial stage of the People’s Liberation Army.

Today 94 years after its foundation the PLA is under the command of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party and the Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic Of China, The General Secretary, President and Commander-in-Chief of Joint Battle Command is Xi Jinping.

The Vice Chairmen are General Xu Qiliang (Air Force) and General Zhang Youxia (Air Force) The member are, Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe Chief of Joint Staff General Li Zuocheng Director of Political Work Department Admiral Miao Hua, Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline inspection General Zhang Shengmin.

The stated policy of the People’s Republic of China is to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests and its military strategy remains based on active defence.

Today the PLA is primarily oriented towards longstanding regional threats while at the same time emphasizing a greater role for itself in accordance with China’s defence policy and military strategy.

The Chinese leadership has set certain milestones to align the PLA’s transformation with China’s overall national modernization so that by the end of 2049 China will have a truly world class military force.

It is very likely that by midcentury China will have a military machine equal to or in some ways superior to the American Military or any other world power that China views as a threat to its national security and development.

On the occasion of the 94th anniversary of the PLA Xi Jinping Secretary General of the Communist Party of China called for a resolute will and determination to work hard to achieve the goals set for the centenary of the People’s Liberation Army.

On behalf of the Central Committee Xi extended regards to officers, soldiers and civilians of the PLA, armed police and members of the militia and reserve service just before the 94th birthday of the PLA which falls on 01 August.

—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.

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