Wednesday, April 17, 2013

China Unveils Its Military Structure for First Time

China revealed the composition and structure of its armed forces, including its nuclear deterrent, for the first time on Tuesday in a new edition of a white paper on national defense that also elaborates the country’s new security plan.
The document, titled “The Diversified Employment of China's Armed Forces,” is China’s eighth white paper on national defense since 1998, but it is the first time the country has made public figures and information regarding the structure of its armed forces.
According to the white paper, China's armed forces are composed of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the People's Armed Police Force and the militia.
The PLA, in turn, consists of an army, navy, air force and the Second Artillery Force, which is the core of China’s nuclear deterrence.
The army includes 18 combined corps and has a total of 850,000 troops. They are deployed in seven military area commands (MACs): Beijing, Shenyang, Lanzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
The navy is composed of three fleets: the Beihai Fleet, the Donghai Fleet and the Nanhai Fleet, comprising a total of 235,000 sailors.
The air force has a total of 398,000 troops, and deploys an air command in each of the seven MACs.
The Second Artillery Force is mainly composed of nuclear and conventional missile forces and operational support units, and is “primarily responsible for deterring other countries from using nuclear weapons against China, and carrying out nuclear counterattacks and precision strikes with conventional missiles,” the document said.
The force has a series of Dong Feng ballistic missiles and Chang Jian cruise missiles, it said.
According to the white paper, “China advocates a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, and pursues comprehensive security, common security and cooperative security.”

However, it stresses that the country is facing "multiple and complicated security threats" and emphasizes China’s need to protect its "national unification, territorial integrity and development interests."
The document lists the growing US presence in the Asia-Pacific region, territorial disputes with Japan and the activities of separatist forces in Taiwan as major challenges on the international arena.
These and other challenges make it necessary “to build a strong national defense and powerful armed forces which are commensurate with China's international standing and meet the needs of its security and development interests.”
China is the second largest military spender in the world after the United States. Its military spending rose by 175 percent between 2003 and 2012, reaching $166 billion last year, according to data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on Monday.

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