This weekend articles were posted online about the Pentagon warning of the PLA's expanding it's military power. Now, many users are aware of China's
military power. But many are in the dark about how capable China is in rivaling the U.S in the near future. I would like to go over the origins of the
PLA, discuss the military history of the PLA and close with the warning from the Pentagon. First I would like to say I welcome China's rise in power.
The reason because the U.S. needs it. The United States is a very competitive country. Having the People's Republic of China as a rival on the world
stage will shake everything up.
The predecessor of the People's Liberation Army (PLA, 解放军, Jiefangjun), the Red Army, came into being with the Nanchang Uprising on 1 August
1927. On the basis of Mao Zedong's theory of 'people's war', this revolutionary army was to have both a political and social role. These roles
consisted of doing propaganda among the masses, organizing the masses, arming the masses, helping them to establish revolutionary political power and
setting up Party organizations. While doing this, the Party at all times was to maintain control over the army.
As you can see from the painting and real picture. Both present a different image to people, Looking at the drawing first. We we see a colorful
picture of happy Red soldiers with Mao Zedong standing tall and strong.
However looking at an actual picture. Mao Zedong is not seen with the Red soldiers; as well the troops look tired out from the many battles. But they
do look dedicated to their goals.
The fact that most Chinese political leaders (Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Zhu De, Ye Jianying, Lin Biao, and many others) had military carreers
while at the same time serving in the civilian power structure reflects this dual role of the PLA. The participation of the political elite in
military affairs also meant that there was little emphasis on formal training of officers. In the PLA, being 'red' was always considered better than
being 'expert'. The political character of the PLA also contributed to the formation of a mystique of the army as a disciplined, politically conscious
force that was closely engaged with the task of rebuilding the nation.
Another picture showing Mao Zedong and a very enthusiastic Red army and other civilians.
As the real picture and paintings seem to tell two different stories. You'll see how even though the Communist forces were battered from all the wars
- in fact all the soldiers and civilians were effected by all the battles during the Chinese civil war.
Traditionally, the military had a very low social status in China, aside from a folklore built around romantic soldiers and military heroes of
virtue. "Good iron is not made into nails, a good man does not become a soldier", as the popular saying goes. This image changed dramatically during
the revolutionary war period; joining the PLA became an aspiration for many young people who felt repressed, in particular for those of worker or
peasant background, and women.
Aside from patriotic motives, joining the PLA almost automatically led to acceptance by the Party, and this in turn opened various career
prospects. The army enabled young people to acquire skills that were useful in civilian life; demobilized soldiers were honored in their villages and,
very importantly, had built up good relations that gave them easier access to the local bureaucracy. Many became cadres themselves, thereby providing
status for their families. Others played a major role in national politics, in particular after 1969, when the PLA was called in to restore order
after the Cultural Revolution had resulted in total chaos.
Seeing how many can benefit from becoming a solider in the military. Many will sign up and fight for the battle of mainland China. Yes, many will die
as a result. Millions of people all over China died before any of the terrible events of Mao Zedong's time in power of the People's Republic of China.
As a fighting force, the PLA has often been able to accomplish astonishing military feats in the face of adversity. Despite often inadquate
armaments, the Army succeeded in defeating superior Nationalist forces during the civil war of 1946-1949, paving the way for the founding of the PRC.
Although undereducated and underbudgeted, the PLA applied guerrilla tactics, emphasizing flexibility and a close integration with the people. Constant
ideological training prepared the soldiers for hardship and sacrifice for the revolutionary cause.
After the founding of the PRC, the PLA started to play a role in China's foreign policy by actively engaging in a number of conflicts. The Army
fought the American troops in Korea in 1950-1953 and against India in 1963 (unresolved until the present day), it clashed with former ally the Soviet
Union along the shared Northeastern border in 1969, battled with South-Vietnamese troops in the South China Sea in 1974, marched against Vietnam in
1979, and came into conflict with a number of countries over the Spratly Islands since the mid-1980s. The PLA supported North-Vietnam during the
Vietnam War, and deployed advisers and troops against American forces in Southeast Asia.
Over the past six decades, the PLA has worked towards bringing Taiwan back into the fold. During the Taiwan Strait crisis of 1954-1955, and again
in 1958, the Army bombarded the offshore islands of Quemoy (Jinmen) and Matzu (Mazu). In the 1980s, live ammunition was traded in for shells filled
with propaganda materials, which the Taiwanese reciprocated in kind. In 1995-1996, the PLA was involved in naval and missile exercises off the coast
of Taiwan in an attempt to influence the presidential elections then taking place in Taiwan. The peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue has been high
on the agenda of the successive generations of military and civilian PRC-leaders, including Hua Guofeng.
Think the Chinese Civil War is over? Think again! The war for Taiwan is far from over and we would need to keep Taiwan as an ally.
Despite these activities, the PLA has always devoted its best energies to internal affairs. In the military sense, it pacified the country in the
early 1950s, defeating Nationalist remnant troops and local militias. The Army occupied Hainan Island, participated in political campaigns to wipe out
the landlord class and suppress counter-revolutionaries, and occupied Tibet. During the Great Leap Forward, the Army was used to prevent peasants from
fleeing rural areas stricken by famine, and in the early 1960s, the military took over many government and State-functions.
Aside from its military and political functions, the PLA has been used as an economic resource as well. During the revolutionary war, wherever
soldiers went, they participated in food production to supplement reserves in the area and lighten the burden on the local population. After the
founding of the PRC, the PLA's domestic economic role was enlarged. The huge number of demobilized soldiers, while retaining their military
organization, was employed in civilian production, both in agriculture and in industry. The military moreover was involved in setting up state farms
and massive land reclamation projects, in particular in the Northeast.
In the era of modernization, the role and position of the PLA in Chinese society has changed enormously. An Army career is no longer considered as
one of the few available opportunities for social mobility: people rather try their luck as independent entrepreneurs. This has created problems for
PLA-recruitment policies. On the other hand, the professionalization of the PLA-organization over the past three decades, now stressing arms over men,
has made the Army rather reluctant to take in unskilled recruits from the countryside, preferring (urban) university graduates instead. Due to a
reduction of the ranks (some 1.5-2 million in the last 15 years), a number of traditional PLA-functions has shifted to other organizations, in
particular the People's Armed Police. This latter organization has become the first line of defense against civil unrest. In that role, it has faced a
lot of action in the ever more frequent conflicts with disgruntled peasants --protesting expulsion from their farmland to make way for industrial
and/or urban development--, workers --opposing their dismissal-- and pensioners --clamoring against the paucity of their pensions. The PAP, backed
when necessary by the PLA, has taken on much of the grass-roots work; over the years, it has become involved in combatting the regular floods that
wreak increasing havoc in the countryside. PAP units were also deployed to ensure security for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and other cities.
China will have a modern military capable of force-projection and sustained high-intensity combat as early as the end of this decade, an annual
Pentagon report into the state of China's armed forces has claimed. New aircraft carriers, a stealth fighter program, carrier-killing ballistic
missiles, improved cyberwarfare techniques and a doctrine of "space dominance" would all contribute to China's ambitious plans to modernise its
2.3million-strong People's Liberation Army.
However. The Pentagon is worried about the growing arm of China. I feel when studying the history of the People's Liberation Army. We would learn more
about China today. I would like to see what you think of China's history and it's future.
My last comment of China today is that they are a proud people. Dealing with China will be very different from the Soviets. Which I can say the U.S.
government will have to study a lot to understand China's might!
Nice post! Americans are so blase about the Chinese, with the exception of those who are concerned about them buying up our debt.
We have been in a economic war with them for some time now. I think that we will see them dumping the bonds they bought around or shortly after the
next Presidential election. Causing further havoc on the world market.
I'm glad to see that we do have people who take the PRC seriously as a potential military threat. I think they are just biding their time. But who
knows, they might have a collapse, similiar to the Soviet Union, though I doubt it.
The Chinese overall are a very pragmatic and patient people.
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