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This article is about the National security of China. It includes the coordination of a variety of organizations, including law enforcement, military, paramilitary, governmental, and intelligence agencies whose aim is to protect China's national security.
The armed forces of China are officially and collectively known as the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The ground forces are referred to simply as the PLA, but the navy is called the PLA Navy and the air force is known as the PLA Air Force. The PLA's independent strategic missile forces are often referred to as the PLA Rocket Forces. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Military Commission sets policy for the PLA. The commission, which is chaired by Chairman (Party General Secretary), has two or three vice chairmen, each a general in the PLA ground forces, and seven members representing various components of the PLA. Operational control is administered dually by the CCP Central Military Commission and the State Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defense. PLA headquarters is organized into the General Staff Department, General Political Department, General Logistics Department, and General Armaments Department. In 2005 China announced that it downsized its military by 200,000 troops in order to optimize force structures and increase combat capabilities. The active-duty troop numbers declined to 2.3 million, compared to 3.2 million in 1987. The changes included eliminating layers in the command hierarchy, reducing noncombat units, such as schools and farms, and reprogramming officer duties. The number of ground forces was reduced by the largest margin, while the navy, air force, and Second Artillery Corps were strengthened. An estimated 1.7 million military personnel are in the ground forces, 250,000 in the navy (including 26,000 naval aviation, 10,000 marines, and 28,000 coastal defense forces), an estimated 400,000 to 420,000 in the air force, and 90,000–100,000 in the strategic missile forces. Reservists number an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 and paramilitary forces in the People's Armed Police an estimated 1.5 million.
The Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China is constitutionally different from the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party. According to Article 93 of the state constitution, the state Central Military Commission directs the armed forces of the country and is composed of a chairman, vice chairmen, and members whose terms run concurrently with the National People's Congress. The commission is responsible to the NPC and its Standing Committee.
China sold US$9,000 worth of arms and military equipment to a variety of nations in 2002, making it the world's fifth largest arms supplier after the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, and France. Among its principal clients have been Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Kuwait, Pakistan, and Yemen. China also provides military assistance to other countries, such as Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Vanuatu. The China North Industries Group Corporation (CNGC, often called NORINCO), China's main defense producer, has some 100 joint ventures and more than 80 overseas offices and branches in 30 countries and regions involved in military and dual-use technology production and sales. Further, China is also a major arms buyer, mostly naval and air force equipment from Russia. In 2004 China gave unprecedented access to senior foreign military officers at a military demonstration in Henan Province. Officers from 15 Asian nations and Russia were present. In 2005 China and Russia held joint eight-day "Peace Mission 2005" military maneuvers near Vladisvostok and in Shandong Province and nearby waters. Air, land, and amphibious exercises were held.
China is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a joint effort with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The SCO was established as the Shanghai Five when the partners signed agreements on strengthening mutual trust in military fields in border areas in 1996 and on mutual reduction of military forces in border areas in 1997. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and the entry of U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces into Central Asia, the SCO was formed and members began to hold joint counterterrorism military exercises. In 2004 the SCO initiated a regional antiterrorism structure to crack down on various transnational terrorist and criminal activities. China also has held joint naval and counterterrorism exercises with Pakistan. The naval exercise, which occurred in the East China Sea, was the first such drill with a foreign counterpart, as Chinese sources put it, "in a non-traditional security field." The antiterrorism exercise, which was held in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, involved border guards from both sides.
Even while embroiled in the problems of territorial disputes with its neighbors and the dangers of periodic tensions on the Korean Peninsula and across the Taiwan Strait, China perceives the United States as its major threat. Beijing believes that the United States still maintains its Cold War policy toward China and the Asia-Pacific region and stresses ideological differences and their relationship to security issues of concern in the region. In China’s view, Washington’s attitude exacerbates tensions, which, in turn, lead to international turmoil. Post-Soviet Russia is now fairly benign in China’s view, and relations have improved significantly from the days of border conflicts and high-level tension. Concerns about the remilitarization of Japan also resurface on occasion, often as a legacy of World War II enmity. Transnational crime, terrorism, separatism, and contradictions among nations all contribute to China’s security concerns.
Although China claims that the share of defense spending as a percentage of the overall state budget has declined from 17.4 percent in 1979 to 9.5 percent in 1994 and 7.7 percent in 2004, the government has announced double-digit increases in military spending nearly every year for more than a decade. The defense budget for 2006 is expected to reach US$35.1 billion, the largest increase in four years and 16 percent higher than 2005 (estimated at US$29.5 billion). The report submitted in March 2006 at the Fourth Session of the 10th National People’s Congress (NPC) contained a request for a budget increase to strengthen China’s defensive capability and ability to respond to emergencies and to raise officer and enlisted pay levels. The NPC stated that China’s military spending is still low compared to the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan. However, the actual defense budget is likely to be higher than expected because of the inclusion of defense-related items in nondefense budgets.
The ground forces are organized into seven military regions (headquartered in Shenyang in the northeast, Beijing in the north, Lanzhou in the west, Chengdu in the southwest, Guangzhou in the south, Jinan in central China, and Nanjing in the east), 28 provincial military districts, four centrally controlled garrison commands (coinciding with the centrally administered municipalities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and 21 integrated group armies. The group armies have strengths between 30,000 and 65,000 troops. Each group army typically has two or three infantry divisions, one armored division or brigade, one artillery division or brigade, and one joint surface-to-air missile or antiaircraft artillery brigade or simply an antiaircraft artillery brigade.
The navy is organized into North Sea (headquartered at Qingdao, Shandong Province), East Sea (headquartered at Ningbo, Zhejiang Province), and South Sea (headquartered at Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province) fleets. Each fleet has destroyer, submarine, and coastal patrol flotillas, possibly even amphibious flotillas, and naval air stations. There are numerous major naval bases: the North Sea Fleet has seven, the East Sea Fleet eight, and the South Sea Fleet 16.
The air force has five air corps and 32 air divisions. The major air force headquarters coincide with the seven military regions. The air force has more than 140 air bases and airfields, including ready access to China’s major regional and international airports.
The strategic missile forces, or Second Artillery Corps, are organized into seven missile divisions based in the military regions, with the central headquarters at Qinghe, north of Beijing. There also are training and testing bases. The six operational bases had some 21 launch brigades in 2005.
The major ground forces equipment includes an estimated 7,000 main battle tanks, 1,200 light tanks, 5,000 armored personnel carriers, 14,000 pieces of towed artillery, 1,700 pieces of self-propelled artillery, 2,400 multiple rocket launchers, 7,700 air defense guns, 6,500 antitank guided weapons, and unspecified numbers of mortars, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, recoilless rifles, rocket launchers, and antitank guns. The ground forces also have an estimated 321 helicopters and an unspecified number of unmanned air vehicles and surveillance aircraft.
Among its principal combatant ships, the navy has 68 submarines (many of which are slated for decommissioning in the mid-2000s). One is a Xia class submarine-launched ballistic missile (SSBN) force strategic-capability submarine. There are plans for more advanced SSBNs by the end of the decade. The navy also has an estimated 21 destroyers and 42 frigates, as well as 368 fast-attack craft, 39 mine warfare ships, 10 hovercraft, 6 troop transports, 19 landing-ship/tank ships, 37 medium landing ships, 45 utility landing craft, 10 air-cushioned landing craft, 163 support and miscellaneous craft, 8 submarine support ships, 4 salvage and repair ships, 29 supply ships, 1 multirole aviation ship, and about 700 land-based combat aircraft and 45 armed helicopters. China also has plans to launch a 40,000-ton aircraft carrier by 2010.
The air force has some 1,900 combat aircraft, including armed helicopters. The inventory includes 180 bombers, more than 950 fighters and 838 ground attack fighters, an estimated 290 reconnaissance/electronic intelligence aircraft, an estimated 513 transports, an estimated 170 helicopters, some 200 training aircraft, and an unmanned aerial vehicle. Weapons include air-to-air missiles and ground-based air defense artillery using surface-to-air missiles and antiaircraft artillery.
The strategic missile forces have in their inventory 20 or more intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), between 130 and 150 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, one Xia class submarine carrying 12 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and about 335 or more short-range ballistic missiles.
The principal paramilitary organization is the People's Armed Police Force. There are militia forces of indeterminate strength under the control of the Chinese Communist Party] (CCP). Once a critical part of Mao Zedong’s "people's war" strategy, militia units are no longer an essential part of China’s military and have mostly disbanded.
In 2004 China deployed 95 riot police officers as part of a 125-member unit to Haiti for the United Nations (UN) Stabilization Mission in Haiti, a nation with which Beijing does not have diplomatic relations. As of that time, China had deployed 297 peacekeepers to five other nations, including East Timor, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Liberia, Afghanistan, and the autonomous province of Kosovo in Serbia. China also has sent peacekeeping observers to Ethiopia and Eritrea, various Middle Eastern countries, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, and Western Sahara. It is a formal participant in the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UN Mission in Sierra Leone, UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and UN Mission in Liberia.
The security apparatus is made up of the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Public Security, the People's Armed Police, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), and the state judicial, procuratorial, and penal systems. The Ministry of Public Security oversees all domestic police activity in China, including the People’s Armed Police Force. The ministry is responsible for police operations and prisons and has dedicated departments for internal political, economic, and communications security. Its lowest organizational units are public security stations, which maintain close day-to-day contact with the public. The People’s Armed Police Force, which sustains an estimated total strength of 1.5 million personnel, is organized into 45 divisions: internal security police, border defense personnel, guards for government buildings and embassies, and police communications specialists.
The Ministry of State Security was established in 1983 to ensure “the security of the state through effective measures against enemy agents, spies, and counterrevolutionary activities designed to sabotage or overthrow China’s socialist system.” The ministry is guided by a series of laws enacted in 1993, 1994, and 1997 that replaced the “counterrevolutionary” crime statutes. The ministry’s operations include intelligence collection, both domestic and foreign.
China has developed an efficient, well-funded internal security apparatus which is tasked with stability maintenance, or “weiwen”.  According to a study conducted by Tsinghua University, based on published police budgets, $77 billion, (514 billion yuan) was appropriated for internal security in 2009, a budget item which is rapidly increasing.
Muslim separatists in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region present China with its most significant terrorist threat, which emerged in the late 1980s. In 2003 Beijing published an “East Turkistan Terrorist List,” which labeled organizations such as the World Uighur Youth Congress and the East Turkistan Information Center as terrorist entities. These groups openly advocate independence for “East Turkestan,” and, although they have not been publicly linked to violent activity, the separatists have resorted to violence, bomb attacks, assassinations, and street fighting, which Beijing responds to with police and military action.
During the summer of 2004, elite troops from China and Pakistan held joint antiterrorism exercises in Xinjiang that were aimed at the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, an organization listed as terrorist by China, the United States, and the United Nations (UN). This and other Uygur separatist groups were trained in Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban and al Qaeda. The East Turkistan Islamic Movement was established in 1990 and has links to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which operates throughout Central Asia. Premier Wen Jiabao joined leaders of other Asian and European nations in Hanoi for the October 2004 Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Hanoi, where the delegates reaffirmed their call for a War on Terrorism led by the UN.
According to statistics, this year’s budget for internal security has reached 514 billion yuan. The “Law Enforcement Situation in the 2009 Budget and This Year’s Draft Budget Report” show that public safety expenditures increased by 16% last year and will be augmented by a further 8.9% this year.