The People’s Liberation Army (PLA; simplified Chinese: 中国人民解放军; traditional Chinese: 中國人民解放軍; pinyin: Zhōngguó Rénmín Jiěfàngjūn) is the military of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under the leadership of the CPC. August 1 is celebrated annually as Chinese Workers and Farmers Red Army Day. The PLA consists of four professional service branches: the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force, the People’s Liberation Army Navy, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and the Second Artillery Corps. The PLA is the world’s largest military force, with a strength of approximately 2,285,000 personnel, 0.18% of the country’s population. The People’s Liberation Army’s insignia consists of a roundel with a red star bearing the Chinese characters for Eight One, referring to August 1 (Chinese: 八一).
The PLA is under the command of the Central Military Commission of the CPC. The Ministry of National Defense, which operates under the State Council, does not exercise any authority over the PLA and is far less powerful than the Central Military Commission (CMC). A system of political officers embedded within the military assures party authority over the armed forces, so that the primary role of the Ministry of Defense is that of a liaison office with foreign militaries. The political and military leadership have made a concerted effort to create a professional military force restricted to national defense and to the provision of assistance in domestic economic construction and emergency relief. This conception of the role of the PLA requires the promotion of specialized officers who can understand modern weaponry and handle combined arms operations. Troops around the country are stationed in seven military regions and more than 20 military districts.
Military service is compulsory by law; however, compulsory military service in China has never been enforced due to large numbers of volunteers from China’s population. In times of national emergency, the People’s Armed Police and the People’s Liberation Army Militia act as a reserve and support element for the PLA, primarily for the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force.
Motto Serve the People
Founded August 1, 1927
Service branches PLA Ground Force
PLA Air Force
Second Artillery Corps
People’s Armed Police
Leaders of Central Military Commission Xi Jinping (Chairman)
General Fan Changlong (Vice-chairman)
General Xu Qiliang
Minister of National Defense General Chang Wanquan
Chief of PLA General Staff General Fang Fenghui
Military age 18–49
military service 385,821,101 males, age 15–49,
363,789,674 females, age 15–49
military service 318,265,016 males, age 15–49,
300,323,611 females, age 15–49
age annually 10,406,544 males,
Active personnel 2,285,000 active
Reserve personnel 800,000 reserve
Budget US $132 billion (2014) (ranked 2nd)
Percent of GDP 1.4% (2014 est.)
Domestic suppliers Aviation Industry Corporation of China
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation
China South Industries Group
China State Shipbuilding Corporation
China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation
China National Nuclear Corporation
China Electronics Technology Group
China Nuclear Engineering Group
Foreign suppliers Ukraine
Annual exports Indonesia
National military command
The state military system upholds the principle of the CPC’s absolute leadership over the armed forces. The party and the State jointly established the CMC that carries out the task of supreme military leadership over the armed forces. The 1954 Constitution stated that the State President directs the armed forces and made the State President the chair of the Defense Commission (the Defense Commission is an advisory body, it does not lead the armed forces). On 28 September 1954, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party re-established the CMC as the leader of the PLA and the armed forces. From that time onwards, the system of joint system of party and state military leadership was established. The Central Committee of the Communist Party leads in all military affairs. The State President directs the state military forces and the development of the military forces managed by the State Council.
In order to ensure the absolute leadership of the Communist Party over the armed forces, every level of party committee in the military forces implements the principles of democratic centralism, the divisions and higher levels establish political commissars and political organizations, and ensures that the branch organizations are in line.