Archive for ‘PLA’


China fires up drills near Taiwan Strait in test of combat strength

  • Military exercises this week meant to foster image that Beijing can win a war over the island, analyst says
The PLA is staging live-fire drills at the northern end of the Taiwan Strait this week. Photo: AP
The PLA is staging live-fire drills at the northern end of the Taiwan Strait this week. Photo: AP
Beijing is conducting live-fire military drills at the northern end of the Taiwan Strait as it signals its resolve to thwart “pro-independence forces” in Taiwan.
Authorities in the small city of Yuhuan, Zhejiang province, notified the public on Sunday that a “no-sail zone” and “no-fishing zone” would be in effect in the area until Friday night.
It said the drills were part of the People’s Liberation Army’s “annual regular exercise plans” and would involve “actual use of weapons”.
“According to the annual [PLA’s] regular training plan … live-fire exercises involving the use of real weapons will be organised … in the designated areas from 6am on May 5 to 6pm on May 10,” the authorities said.
Collin Koh, a military analyst from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said the stress on the live-fire manoeuvres suggested the six-day exercise would simulate real combat conditions.
The drills come hard on the heels of an annual report by the Pentagon warning that China was preparing options to unify Taiwan by force, and there was a need to deter, delay or deny any third-party intervention on Taiwan’s behalf.
Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is bound by law to help defend the self-ruled island. Washington is Taipei’s main source of arms, selling the island more than US$15 billion in weaponry since 2010, according to the Pentagon.
Beijing ‘loses all hope for Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen’ as she rallies Washington

Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the China-US relationship – along with a trade war, Beijing’s growing influence in emerging economies, and its stronger military posture in the South China Sea. On Monday, two guided-missile destroyers, USS Preble and USS Chung-Hoon passed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands, drawing immediate criticism from Beijing.

In addition, Taiwan will hold its annual Han Kuang live-fire drills from May 27 to 31 and held a computer-aided one just last month.

A Taiwan affairs analyst from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said the drills off Zhejiang were meant to show Beijing’s determination to defend its position on Taiwan.

“Beijing is trying to build up an image that China can win a war over Taiwan and Beijing’s key goal is to contain pro-independence forces, which are the biggest threat now to the peaceful unification process,” the analyst said.

Koh agreed, saying the drill sent a signal to external and domestic parties after the recent high-profile transits of US warships through the Taiwan Strait.

“The messaging to domestic audience is necessary because Beijing can’t be seen as weak following those reported transits by foreign warships – especially the Americans who are seen as supporting Taipei,” Koh said.

“And regarding external audience, the messaging is quite obviously to demonstrate that Beijing is ready to respond more resolutely to future such transits, following the tough verbal responses from Beijing, including its statement that it considers the strait under its jurisdiction and comprise its internal waters.”

Beijing ‘tones down’ response after US warships sail through Taiwan Strait

Relations between Beijing and Taipei have plunged since Tsai Ing-wen from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party won the presidential election in 2016 and repeatedly refused to accept the “1992 consensus”, which Beijing says is the foundation for cross-strait dialogue.

In response, Beijing ramped up pressure against the island, including conducting more military exercises and establishing diplomatic ties with Taipei’s allies.

Source: SCMP


PLA, armed police urged to study spirit of NPC session

BEIJING, March 15 (Xinhua) — The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and armed police force have been urged to study the spirit of the second session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) and the spirit of the remarks made by President Xi Jinping during the session.

This is an important political task for the whole military, said a circular released Friday by the General Office of the Central Military Commission.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, stressed fulfilling the set targets and tasks of national defense and military development as scheduled, in the remarks he made while attending a plenary meeting of the PLA and armed police force delegation.

The circular called on the PLA and armed police force to have a clear understanding of new circumstances, new tasks and new demands in strengthening national defense and the armed forces, and intensify the sense of mission to achieve new progress in making the military strong.

The circular stressed studying the spirit of Xi’s remarks, and urged the PLA and armed police force to clearly understand the importance and urgency of implementing the 13th Five-Year Plan for military development, and go all out to carry out the plan so as to ensure that the set targets and tasks are fulfilled as scheduled.

The PLA and armed police force should have a deep understanding of the severe situation facing China’s security and development, improve military preparedness, actively support local economic and social development as well as ecological conservation and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, the circular stressed.

Source: Xinhua


Two dead after Chinese navy plane crashes

  • No other injuries reported following accident on southern island of Hainan
  • Military is currently intensifying training for pilots as it looks to strengthen capabilities

Mobile phone footage believed to be taken from the crash site. Photo: Handout
Mobile phone footage believed to be taken from the crash site. Photo: Handout
A Chinese navy plane crashed in Hainan province on Tuesday killing two crew members, the military said.
A short statement said the crash happened during a training exercise over rural Ledong county in the southern island province.
No one else was reported to have been injured after the plane hit the ground and the cause of the incident is being investigated.
Footage that purported to be taken from the crash site started circulating on social media after the accident.
Footage apparently taken at the crash site. Photo: Handout
Footage apparently taken at the crash site. Photo: Handout

The PLA’s official statement did not specify the type plane that crashed, although unverified witness account online said it was a twin-seat Xian JH-7 “Flying Leopard”.

The JH-7, which entered service with the navy and air force in the 1990s, has been involved in a number of fatal accidents over the years.

The country’s worst military air accident in recent years happened in January 2018. At least 12 crew members died when a PLA Air Force plane, believed to be an electronic reconnaissance aircraft, crashed in Guizhou in the southwest of the country.

Between 2016 and 2017, there were at least four accidents involving the navy’s J-15 “Flying Sharks”, one of them resulting in the death of the pilot.

Military commentators have previously said that China’s drive to improve its combat readiness, which includes the building of new aircraft carriers and warplanes, has resulted in a serious shortage of qualified pilots.

To fill the vacancies the Chinese military has started a major recruitment drive and intensive training programme for pilot pilots.

One unverified report said the plane that crashed was a JH-7 “Flying Leopard”. Photo. Xinhua
One unverified report said the plane that crashed was a JH-7 “Flying Leopard”. Photo. Xinhua

Currently China has one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in service, which can carry a maximum of 24 J-15s as well as other aircraft.

Meanwhile, the new home-grown carrier Type 001A will soon be commissioned, which is designed to accommodate to carry eight more fighters.

In addition, construction is believed to have started on another carrier that will be able to carry heavier and more advanced warplanes.

Chinese navy veteran warns training, not hardware is key to military preparedness
According to figures from the end of 2016, there were only 25 pilots qualified to fly the J-15 while 12 others were in training.
Most of the Chinese navy’s pilots have been redeployed from the air force, which is itself in need of more trained pilots.
This year the navy for the first time began a nation-wide programme to scout out potential pilots.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing legislative meeting in Beijing Feng Wei, a PLA pilot from the Western Theatre, said the military was currently intensifying its pilots’ training as increasing amounts of new equipment entered service.
“Personnel quality is the key to everything,” he added.
Source: SCMP

Xi’s new model army – The Economist

Xi Jinping reforms China’s armed forces—to his own advantage

CHINA’S biggest military shake-up in a generation began with a deliberate echo of Mao Zedong.

Late in 2014 President Xi Jinping went to Gutian, a small town in the south where, 85 years before, Mao had first laid down the doctrine that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the armed force not of the government or the country but of the Communist Party. Mr Xi stressed the same law to the assembled brass: the PLA is still the party’s army; it must uphold its “revolutionary traditions” and maintain absolute loyalty to its political masters. His words were a prelude to sweeping reforms in the PLA that have unfolded in the past month, touching almost every military institution.

The aim of these changes is twofold—to strengthen Mr Xi’s grip on the 2.3m-strong armed forces, which are embarrassingly corrupt at the highest level, and to make the PLA a more effective fighting force, with a leadership structure capable of breaking down the barriers between rival commands that have long hampered its modernisation efforts. It has taken a long time since the meeting in Gutian for these reforms to unfold; but that reflects both their importance and their difficulty.

The PLA itself has long admitted that it is lagging behind. It may have plenty of new weapons—it has just started to build a second aircraft-carrier, for instance—but it is failing to make effective use of them because of outdated systems of command and control. Before any substantial change in this area, however, Mr Xi felt it necessary to strengthen the party’s control over the PLA, lest it resist his reforms and sink back into a morass of money-grubbing.

The reforms therefore begin with the main instrument of party control, the Central Military Commission (CMC), which is chaired by Mr Xi. On January 11th the CMC announced that the PLA’s four headquarters—the organisations responsible for recruiting troops, procuring weapons, providing logistics and ensuring political supervision—had been split up, slimmed down and absorbed into the commission. Once these were among the most powerful organisations in the PLA, operating almost as separate fiefs. Now they have become CMC departments.

Power to the party

The political headquarters was the body through which the party kept an eye on the ranks and ensured they were up to speed on Maoist texts and the party’s latest demands. The loss of its autonomous status may suggest that the party’s role is being downgraded. Far from it. Now the party’s CMC (there is also a state one, which exists only in name) will be better able to keep watch. The body’s 15 new departments will include not only departments for politics but also for logistics, personnel management and fighting corruption. Mr Xi has already turned his guns on graft, imprisoning dozens of generals.

The second reform has been to put the various services on a more equal footing. The land forces have hitherto reigned supreme. That may have been fine when the PLA’s main job was to defend the country against an invasion across its land borders (until the 1980s the Soviet Union was considered the biggest threat). But now China has military ambitions in the South China Sea and beyond, and wants the ability to challenge American naval and air power in the western Pacific. A recent editorial in the Liberation Army Daily, a PLA mouthpiece, berated the armed forces for their “army-centric mindset”.

In addition to those for the navy and air force, a separate command has now been created for the army, which had previously run everything. On December 31st the CMC also announced the formation of a command responsible for space and cyberwarfare, as well as one for ballistic and cruise missiles (previously known as the Second Artillery Force, part of the army). There is also a new joint command with overall control of the various services, a little like America’s joint chiefs of staff.

Big changes are also afoot in regional command structures. China used to be divided into seven military regions. These were powerful and relatively self-contained; sharing or swapping troops and equipment was rare. Now, according to reports in the South China Morning Post, a newspaper in Hong Kong, the number will be reduced to five. Troops will be recruited and trained by the various services before regional deployment. This will ensure greater central control over the regions.

China has been talking about military reform for decades, but change has been glacial. Opposition within the armed forces has been intense. “If [reform] is not done properly,” wrote Sun Kejia and Han Xiao of the PLA National Defence University last month, “it could affect the stability of the armed forces or even all of society.” (The article was promptly removed from the Liberation Army Daily website.) Demobbed soldiers could make trouble—Mr Xi wants the number of troops to be cut by 300,000. State firms have been ordered to reserve 5% of jobs for laid-off veterans.

The recent reforms are more extensive than most Western observers had expected after the Gutian conference. But even so, they are incomplete. The army still holds sway over some appointments (all five chiefs of the new regional commands are army generals, for instance). The PLA has traditionally given higher status to combat units than to those providing communications, logistics, transport and the like, a misplaced emphasis in an age when information and communications are crucial in warfare. The reforms do little to correct that bias. Moreover, many details about them remain unclear. No one knows, for example, where the troop cuts will come from or what units will go into the new space and cyberwarfare command.

The first result of the reforms is likely to be confusion in the ranks, until the new system settles down. Dennis Blasko, an American observer of the PLA, says no one can be sure of the results until they are tested in battle. Amid the murk, only one man clearly seems to have got his way: Mr Xi.



Command and lack of control | The Economist

IF THE People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were a company, it would be about to lose its position as the world’s largest corporate employer. When troop cuts recently announced by Xi Jinping, China’s president, are completed in 2017, the ranks of China’s armed forces will have shrunk by 300,000 to 2m, putting it just behind Walmart, a retailer (see chart). It would still be by far the world’s largest military outfit.

When the downsizing was announced, at a big military parade on September 3rd, the cuts seemed no more significant than a round of corporate redundancies. Mr Xi’s own explanation—that they would help the PLA to “carry out the noble mission of upholding world peace”—also seemed to come straight from the gobbledygook of corporate obfuscation.

But recent commentary in China’s state media suggests that the reductions may presage something more: a long-overdue reform of the command structure of the PLA and a shift in the balance of the main military services. If so, one of the most important subsidiaries of the Chinese state is in for a shake-up.

The army has long been the senior service. Almost three quarters of active-duty personnel are soldiers. The navy and air-force chiefs did not have seats on the main institution for exercising civilian control over the armed forces, the Central Military Commission, until 2004. It was only in 2012 that an officer outside the ranks of the army became its most senior military figure. The army’s dominance is a problem at a time when China is expanding its influence in the South China Sea and naval strategy is looming larger.

Moreover, there has long been a split within the PLA between combat forces (which kill the enemy) and other operations (logistics, transport and so on) which are regarded as secondary. But in modern, high-tech warfare, non front-line services such as those responsible for cyberwarfare and electronic surveillance often matter more than tanks and infantry.

Embodying these outdated traditions is a top-heavy, ill-co-ordinated structure with four headquarters and seven regional commands. Many Chinese analysts argue that, as now constituted, the PLA would not be able to conduct modern information-intensive military operations which integrate all the services properly.

China has long talked about military reform. In late 2013 Mr Xi told fellow leaders that the command system for joint operations was “not strong enough”. It was duly announced that China would “optimise the size and structure” of the armed forces. China Daily, an English-language newspaper, said that a “joint operational command system” would be introduced “in due course”.

It now appears that these changes are under way. Mr Xi was recently quoted in PLA Daily, a newspaper, saying that “we have a rare window … to deepen [military] reform”. It is possible that Mr Xi’s anti-corruption purge, which has taken aim at two men (one now dead) who were once the country’s most powerful military figures, as well as 50 other generals, may have weakened opposition enough for change to begin.

The South China Morning Post, a newspaper in Hong Kong, recently published what it described as a radical plan devised by military reformers. This would scrap three of the four headquarters, reduce the number of regional military commands to four and give a more prominent role to the navy. It remains to be seen whether Mr Xi will go that far. But there is no doubt that, in order to fulfil what he calls China’s “dream of a strong armed forces”, he wants a leaner, more efficient PLA. To China’s neighbours, that would make it even more frightening.

Source: Command and lack of control | The Economist


China’s Communist Party expels former military chief Xu Caihou in graft probe | South China Morning Post

A former top Chinese military figure was expelled from the Communist Party for suspected corruption and his case handed over to prosecutors for investigation, the Politburo announced after a meeting on Monday.


The party also decided to expel three cadres closely connected to the nation’s former security tsar, Zhou Yongkang, over allegations of corruption and bribery, Xinhua reported.

A report on the investigation into Xu Caihou, a former vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, was presented at the Politburo meeting presided over by party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping, Xinhua reported. The case was handed over to military prosecutors, it reported.

The 71-year-old Xu, who was until 2012 a member of the Politburo, would be the most senior military figure to go on trial for corruption.

“His case is serious and leaves a vile impact,” Xinhua cited a Politburo statement as saying.

The investigation into Xu, launched on March 15, found he had abused his power and received bribes “personally and through his family members” in exchange for granting promotions in the military.

Xu had also sought profits for other people in exchange for cash and properties, which were routed through his family members, Xinhua reported.

The South China Morning Post reported on March 20 that an escort of dozens of armed police had taken Xu from his bed at the 301 Military Hospital in Beijing.

via China’s Communist Party expels former military chief Xu Caihou in graft probe | South China Morning Post.


China training for ‘short, sharp war’, says senior US naval officer –

China has been training for a “short, sharp war” against Japan in the East China Sea, a senior US military officer has claimed, in comments that underline the growing military tensions in the western Pacific.

Disputed territory

Captain James Fanell, director of intelligence for the US Pacific Fleet, said that a large-scale Chinese military exercise conducted in 2013 was designed to prepare forces for an operation to seize disputed islands in the East China Sea, which Japan calls the Senkaku and China the Diaoyu.

“We witnessed the massive amphibious and cross military region enterprise – Mission Action 2013,” Capt Fanell said at a navy conference last week in San Diego.

“We concluded that the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] has been given the new task of being able to conduct a short, sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be an expected seizure of the Senkakus,” he added.

Conducting a training exercise is very different from having an actual plan to seize the islands. For years, the Chinese military has staged exercises designed to mimic a possible invasion of Taiwan.

However, the comments about China’s military training plans come at a time of considerable tension surrounding the contested islands. The regular presence of both Chinese and Japanese vessels and aircraft in the region has raised the risk of an accident that could spark a wider confrontation.

In December, China declared an air defence identification zone for the East China Sea, which the US and many other countries in the region interpreted as an attempt to cement its sovereignty claim over the disputed islands.

Although Capt Fanell’s remarks were unusually blunt in their assessment of China’s intentions, they represent a growing tide of anxiety from senior US officials about Beijing’s ambitions in both the East China Sea and South China Sea.

Earlier in February, Danny Russel, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asia, warned “there are growing concerns that this pattern of behaviour in the South China Sea reflects incremental effort by China to assert control over the area”. He said that China’s recent actions had “created uncertainty, insecurity and instability in the region”.

Capt Fanell said that Chinese maritime training had shifted in character in the second half of 2013 to prepare for “realistic maritime combat” that its navy might encounter. Last year, it conducted nine operations in the western Pacific that were designed to “practise striking naval targets”.

“I do not know how Chinese intentions could be more transparent,” he said. When Beijing described its activities as the “protection of maritime rights”, this was really “a Chinese euphemism for the coerced seizure of coastal rights of China’s neighbours”, Capt Fanell said.

via China training for ‘short, sharp war’, says senior US naval officer –

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Golden Statue of Chairman Mao, Pricey Liquor Among the Reported Details of a Chinese General’s Wealth – Businessweek

When armed police a year ago searched the mansion of Lieutenant General Gu Junshan of China’s People’s Liberation Army, they seized three symbolic items along with dozens of others: a wash basin for fortune, a model boat for luck, and a statue of Chairman Mao.

All three were made of gold.

The seizures, including several cases of Moutai, a sorghum-based spirit served on luxurious occasions, came to light this week in a report by the publication Caixin, which specializes in investigative journalism. Caixin cited anonymous sources.

Gu was arrested by authorities in January 2012 and put under investigation. Since then, few details have emerged. This rare exposure of the extravagant possessions Gu accumulated while he was managing land owned by the Army has renewed popular interest in his case.

The Chinese Army controls plenty of property—and has unloaded a lot of it over the years. By 2009, the PLA had sold as much as 30 billion yuan ($5 billion) of real estate holdings, the Chinese state press reported that year. Sales included land in central Beijing that private developers later turned into Diaoyutai No. 7, a row of apartment buildings carrying a price tag of as much as 300,000 yuan ($50,000) per square meter in 2011.

According to the Caixin report, the Army had taken that property from a state enterprise in the name of conducting “science research.” It’s unclear whether Gu gained anything in the transaction. Regardless, the detail prompted this comment from one reader: “Holy Cow! The army is so powerful that it can find such an easy excuse to grab land!”

President Xi Jinping has moved to strip the military of some privileges, including luxury cars. Last month he banned drinking at receptions for military officials and warned against handling land improperly. Other military perks, including universal free parking and an exemption from tolls on roads, still rankle many.

Then there’s the Moutai, which has a market price of as much as 2,158 yuan ($356) a bottle. The crates of it authorities found in Gu’s house were a special supply for the military, according to Caixin’s report.

Regarding real estate, Caixin reported that Gu once got a 6 percent kickback on a 2 billion-yuan sale of military land in Shanghai. In downtown Beijing, he owned dozens of apartments and planned to use them as gifts, Caixin said, citing unnamed sources.

via Golden Statue of Chairman Mao, Pricey Liquor Among the Reported Details of a Chinese General’s Wealth – Businessweek.

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* China says its massive navy buildup is world’s biggest

China is no 2 to US in economic terms. Soon (if not already) it will be no 2 in military terms as well.

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China Daily Mail

In 2013, China commissioned 2 missile destroyers, 3 missile frigates, 9 light missile frigates, 2 large auxiliary ships, 4 conventional submarines, 2 supporting warships for submarines, 1 nuclear submarine, 2 double-hull survey vessels, 1 warship for testing underwater sound equipment and 2 minesweepers, ranking the first in number in the world.

Chinese media says that, according to unreferenced “foreign media” speculation, China ranked first in the number of warships it began to build and launched in 2013. Chinese media also said that, according to unreferenced “foreign media” speculation, China began to build 3 missile destroyers, 2 missile frigates, 7 light missile frigates, 3 conventional submarines, 3 nuclear submarines, 2 minesweepers and 1 new-type electronic reconnaissance ship that draws people’s attention.

It launched 2 missile destroyers, 2 missile frigates, 5 light missile frigates, 2 conventional submarines, 1 nuclear submarines and 1 minesweeper,

Chinese media continues to assert that, according…

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China, India begin joint anti-terrorism drill | South China Morning Post

China and India began a joint anti-terrorism drill on Tuesday, the first such exercise by the Asian powers – which have a sometimes-fraught relationship – for five years.


The world’s two most populous countries each sent one company of soldiers to Chengdu, in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, for the “Hand-in-Hand 2013” drill, according to Chinese state media reports.

The joint training exercise comes even as the two remain embroiled in a border dispute that has been unresolved for decades and has occasionally led to military standoffs.

In April, India accused Chinese troops of intruding into Indian-held territory, a row that was only resolved three weeks later when troops from both sides eventually pulled back.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Beijing two weeks ago, signing an agreement with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to step up co-operation on border defence and counter-terrorism training.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters on Tuesday that the drill showed “enhancing political-military trust between the two countries”.

“Since the beginning of this year, China and India relations have scored new progress,” he said.

Indian officials said the country’s contingent for the 10-day-long drill was 162 strong and led by a brigadier.

“The joint training exercise is a counter-terrorist exercise with a purpose of exploring useful experience and thoughts, advance pragmatic co-operation, promote friendly environment and enhance mutual trust,” an Indian defence ministry statement said.

The first such exercise was held in China in 2007, with another in India the following year.

Beijing blames “terrorist” groups for incidents in its far western region of Xinjiang, home to Muslim Uygurs, and has in the past linked clashes to groups trained in Pakistan, which as well as being India’s great rival also shares a border with China.

via China, India begin joint anti-terrorism drill | South China Morning Post.

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