IV. Armed Forces Building

Military Legal System

It is stipulated in the National Defense Law of the PRC that the armed forces of the PRC shall abide by the Constitution and laws. To meet the requirements of the development of the country's legal system building, China's armed forces have implemented the guideline of governing the armed forces according to law, strengthened military legal system building and gradually brought the building of national defense and armed forces onto the track of the legal system.

China's military legislation has significantly accelerated since 1998. The NPC Standing Committee has enacted the Law of the PRC on Garrisoning the Macao Special Administrative Region, providing legal basis for the Macao Garrison to station its troops and perform its defense duties according to law. The revision of the Law of the PRC on Military Service System has further improved China's military service system. The State Council and the CMC have revised the Regulations on the Service of the PLA Soldiers on Active Service, and the CMC has stipulated more than 40 items of military regulations such as the Regulations of the PLA on Institutional Education and the Regulations of the PLA on Border Defense Duties, providing full legal guarantee for the strengthening of the building of national defense and armed forces, the promotion of various military reforms and the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of the officers and soldiers. The PLA general headquarters/departments, the services and arms and the military area commands have formulated over 300 items of military rules, further advancing the course of governing the armed forces according to law.

Based on the relevant laws of the state, China's armed forces have formed a military judicial system which is composed of the military courts, military procuratorates and internal security organs, respectively exercising the trial, procuratorial and investigating powers in accordance with the law with regard to criminal cases within the armed forces. The military courts are special people's courts set up by the state in the armed forces and consist of three levels: the PLA, the military area command and the corps. The military courts independently exercise trial power in accordance with the law. The trial procedures are the same as those for ordinary people's courts. A military court at the next higher level is the court of appeal for that at the next lower level. The military courts accept criminal cases within the armed forces and may accept other cases with authorization from the Supreme People's Court. The military procuratorates are special people's procuratorates set up by the state in the armed forces and consist of three levels, which are the same as those for the military courts. They independently exercise procuratorial power in accordance with the law. A military procuratorate at a higher level directs the procuratorial work of that at a lower level. The military procuratorates, in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Procedures Law, assume the responsibility of examining criminal cases investigated by the internal security organs and deciding whether to approve an arrest or to initiate a prosecution; directly accepting and investigating criminal cases involving crimes committed by taking office advantage and deciding whether to make an arrest or to initiate a prosecution; exercising supervision over the legality of the investigatory and judicial activities of the internal security organs and the military courts. The president of the PLA Military Court and the procurator-general of the PLA Military Procuratorate are appointed or removed by the NPC Standing Committee. The internal security organs, set up in the political organs of the PLA units at or above the regiment level, carry out investigation of criminal cases within the armed forces in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Procedures Law. China's military judicial organs shall render criminal punishment, in accordance with the Criminal Law of the PRC revised in 1997 and the four Geneva conventions and the two 1977 additional protocols to which China has all acceded, on military servicemen for their acts in violation of international humanitarian law such as maltreating prisoners of war, injuring, killing or plundering innocent residents in times of war.

The military lawyers in the armed forces and their legal services are administered in line with the national lawyers system. Military lawyers must obtain state-set qualifications after passing uniform national examinations. The armed forces are manned with military lawyers at three levels: the corps, the division and the brigade. At present, there are 272 military legal advisory sections with 1,688 full-time or part-time lawyers. Military lawyers serve as legal advisors to the commanding officers and organs in their decision-making, act as defender when accepting authorization by criminal defendants or act as agent when accepting authorization by military units or servicemen.

Military legal knowledge has been incorporated into the military education and training of the PLA units and the curriculum of military academies and schools. In accordance with the unified national plan, China's armed forces have launched three five-year campaigns from 1986 to 2000 to popularize legal knowledge. Law courses are taught to cadets and officers in various military academies and schools, covering national laws, military regulations and rules, fundamental legal knowledge and international humanitarian law.

Downsizing and Restructuring

In September 1997, China announced an additional reduction of 500,000 military personnel over the next three years. By the end of 1999, this reduction had been achieved, and the adjustment and reform of the structure and organization of the armed forces had been basically completed.

Reducing military personnel by compressing the scale of the armed forces. The PLA was reduced to less than 2.5 million by downsizing the Army, restructuring the naval and air units, deactivating some units with outdated equipment, restructuring logistical support and equipment management systems, military academies and schools and training establishments, and dismantling and merging internal organs of the units at and above the corps level to cut a total of 500,000 persons. Of all the services, the Army was cut by 18.6%; the Navy, 11.4%; the Air Force, 12.6%; and the Second Artillery Force, 2.9%.

Making the leading organs at and above the corps level leaner by streamlining the organizational structure. By undergoing readjustment of functions, and cutting and merging departments, internal bodies and personnel are reduced. By dismantling and merging subdivisions in the PLA general headquarters/departments, military area commands and services and arms, both the subordinate sections of the specialized organs and personnel were reduced by about 20%. Following this, the total number of organs at and above the corps level was reduced by over 1,500, making the command structure leaner, more agile and efficient. Over 290 business management bodies engaged in commercial activities were either completely dismantled or handed over to local governments.

Optimizing the PLA's structure through readjustment. The Army field troops deactivated some corps headquarters and a number of divisions and regiments, thus further improving the organizational structure. The Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Force dismantled or merged some of their organic units through elimination of outdated equipment and restructuring. After readjustment, the Army field troops have become more integrated, smaller, lighter and more versatile. The services and arms featuring higher technology make up a higher percentage of the armed forces. Their structure is further optimized.

Straightening out relations within the PLA through structural reform. The General Armament Department has been set up to readjust the weaponry and equipment administration system. Centralized management for the major items of weaponry has been achieved. The weaponry and equipment construction has been placed under unified leadership and the across-the-board and life-cycle management strengthened. The logistical support system has been readjusted. A joint logistical support system based on military area commands, which combines area support with organic support and general supply with specialized supply, has been established. These have greatly enhanced the all-service integrated and intensive support capability. The reform of educational and training institutions has resulted in the reduction of military academies and schools, expansion in the scope of individual institutions, upgrading in officer training and greater percentages of officers selected for training. The military academies and schools are moving in the new direction of enlarged scale, modernized instruction, standardized management and socialized logistical support.

Ideological and Political Work

The Chinese armed forces have all along given priority to ideological and political work. In the new historical conditions, the tasks in this regard are: To provide powerful spiritual motivation to win in future high-tech wars, and to provide a reliable political guarantee for preserving the nature of the people's army, its distinctive character and style of work.

The ideological and political work in the Chinese armed forces aims at raising the overall quality of the officers and men and producing a new generation of officers and men, who are strong ideologically and politically, competent militarily, knowledgeable in science and culture, and fit physically and mentally. To achieve this, the improvement of political quality must be integrated with the improvement of overall quality; the study of advanced ideology with the grasp of general knowledge; the educational guidance with practice; and the strict discipline with greater self-control. To win future wars, the Chinese armed forces resolutely give play to their power in ideological and political work, educate officers and men with correct ideological theory, encourage them with a lofty revolutionary spirit, nurture them in a good political environment, and discipline them strictly with rules and regulations. The Chinese armed forces constantly strive to increase the ideological consciousness, dauntless spirit, sturdy style of work and iron discipline of their officers and men, and to increase their awareness of modernization, science and technology and creativity, and to raise the all-round fighting capability of the armed forces.

The Chinese armed forces adhere to the absolute leadership of the Communist Party of China and persist in making it their aim to serve the people heart and soul, placing the interests of the state and people above everything else and carrying forward the patriotism and revolutionary heroism of the rank and file. They cultivate in their officers and men a firm faith in revolutionary ideals and a spirit of sacrifice and dedication, foster in them a correct outlook on the world, life and values, educate them to support the reform, to have a correct regard for the interests adjustment arising in the reform, to persist in building the armed forces through diligence and thrift, and to always maintain the armed forces' true political qualities of arduous struggle.

Military Training

The PLA has always attached strategic importance to military training. Proceeding from the needs of real fighting, the PLA conducts arduous and strict training of its troops. Through decades of development and continuous reforms and carrying forward its good traditions, a unique and relatively complete system of troop training and institutional education has taken shape.

In the late 1990s, the PLA, in order to adapt to profound changes in the world's military affairs and win high-tech local wars, actively engaged in military training featuring new technology, and energetically carried out military training reforms. In the development and innovation of military theories, new conditions and characteristics of high-tech local wars have been studied in depth. New disciplines in military training have been set up. Operational training theories, especially for combined operations, have been continuously improved. Newly-revised doctrines for operations and battles have been promulgated to adapt to the new situation. In updating training programs, emphasis has been laid on the learning of and training in new knowledge, skills, equipment and warfare. A new training program system has taken shape, with the focus on enhancing the level of difficulty and intensity of training. In improving training methods and means, the practice of base training, and simulated and network training have been actively promoted. A combined tactical training base system suitable for various combat training requirements has been established, and the linking of campaign and tactical models with weapon system simulators as well as a network linking models of services and arms and specialized models have been basically completed. In addition, a distributive interactive operational command and control simulation system, new equipment operation training simulators and a computer-aided training system have been widely applied. A military training information network covering all the major units and academies and schools of the PLA has been set up. To improve the training management mechanism, efforts have been made to strictly carry out the PLA's Military Training Regulations and other training statutes, conduct regularized training, and enhance the organization, leadership and administration of military training consonant with the new situation arising from the state and armed forces' reform. In recent years, joint and combined arms exercises have been meticulously organized in the Lanzhou, Jinan, Nanjing and Guangzhou military area commands, greatly raising the comprehensive quality of officers and men and the overall fighting capability of the troops under high-tech conditions.

With the basic objective of training new high-quality military personnel, and bearing in mind the needs of defense and armed forces modernization in the 21st century, the PLA has set up an institutional education system with Chinese characteristics. In the structural reform in 1999, the PLA's system of academies and schools underwent a structural reform, canceling, merging and reconstructing some institutions. As a result, the original two categories of institutions for training commanding and technical officers have been replaced by two categories of institutions for training officer candidates and in-service officers. Five universities have been established - the universities of national defense science and technology, information engineering, science and engineering, naval engineering, and air force engineering. Officer training has shifted to a two-track system-this is to gradually realize the targets of the military providing such training while being supported by national education. The training of its postgraduates is increasing on a yearly basis. The PLA is making an effort to have all officer candidates receive higher education by 2010. Some officer candidates, who have received regular (four-year) college education and basic military training at comprehensive educational institutions, will then receive professional training at specialized institutions in accordance with their future posts. New specialties have been brought into being by integrating highly technical command specialties with relevant specialties, and some officers will receive integrated command and technical training. Middle-level commanding officers will receive integrated military and political training. Commanding and staff officers will receive training in the same institutions, and medical and political officers throughout the PLA will receive unified training. Through readjustment and reform, the total number of military academies and schools has been reduced by about one-third, their structure has become more comprehensive and their scale has been expanded, and the training level, quality and benefits have been markedly improved.


The PLA regards logistical construction as an important part of the effort toward comprehensively enhancing combat effectiveness and meeting the needs of modern warfare. On the principle of combining a peacetime with a wartime footing, combining the army with the people, overall planning, emphasis on key points, scientific management, and diligence and thrift, it strives to provide adequate logistical support for army building, operations and other activities.

Since the founding of New China, the logistical work of the Chinese armed forces has been making progress constantly. Logistics for the Army alone has evolved into combined logistics for all the services and arms. Simple and backward logistical equipment has evolved into diversified equipment backed by modern technology and some high technology. Logistical support capability for military operations in ordinary conditions has evolved into that under modern, especially high-tech, conditions.

In the 1990s, the logistical work of the Chinese armed forces focused on meeting the needs of providing logistical support during local wars in high-tech conditions and strengthening the logistical operational readiness. Logistical work supporting emergency mobile forces has been quickened. Logistical support forces for emergency mobile operations has been organized. And the logistical support capabilities for crisis response have been enhanced. Investment in war preparation projects has been increased. The scope, distribution and structure of war material reserves have been properly adjusted. And by reliance on science and technology, logistical support has been invigorated, so as to continuously raise the level of the modernization in logistical support. Marked progress has been made in the research and development of highly technical and specialized logistical equipment to provide the armed forces with flexible and effective field facilities for logistical supply, sustainment support, medical aid and emergency repair, surface replenishment, air refueling and maneuverability support for the Second Artillery Force. In January 2000, the Chinese armed forces started to practice the joint logistics system, which is based on military area commands by the combination of regional support with organic system support and the combination of general supply support with special supply support. Unified general-purpose material supply and service support are provided by military area commands, and special material supply and service support are provided by the services and arms through their organic channels.

To keep pace with the development of the socialist market economy and meet the needs of the armed forces' quality construction, the Chinese armed forces have carried out a series of reforms in logistical work. In December 1998, the PLA and the Armed Police Force ceased to engage in commercial activities. Most of the more than 6,000 enterprises run by the military were closed down or handed over to local authorities. In July 1998, in conformity with the requirements of the military insurance system stipulated in the Na-tional Defense Law of the PRC, the State Council and the CMC jointly promulgated the Program for the Implementation of the Military Insurance System. A military insurance system with Chinese characteristics is gradually taking shape. In addition, the soldiers' casualty insurance system and the demobilized soldiers' medical insurance system were implemented in 1998 and 1999, respectively. In recent years, the Chinese armed forces have endeavored, through continuous explorations, to realize a socialized service system by contracting out certain logistical support items, utilizing market resources and streamlining military support establishments, so as to raise the cost-effectiveness of defense expenditure. From January 2000, mess management, barracks maintenance and post exchange service will be gradually contracted out in organizations at or above the corps level and military academies and hospitals in large- and medium-sized cities.

Weaponry and Equipment

Consistently placing weaponry construction in a prominent position, the Chinese armed forces strive to modernize military equipment and enhance their operational capability for self-defense.

Since 1949 China has adhered to the principle of focussing on self-reliance while actively drawing on advanced foreign military technology. It has made great achievements in modernizing its weap-onry, providing a powerful support for building a modernized army and safeguarding state sovereignty and security. The basic realization of standardization and serialization of the Army and general-purpose armaments has enhanced the capabilities of fire repression, ground assault, battlefield manoeuverability, battlefield intelligence and reconnaisance, operational command and protection, and has thus met the demand for combined operations. The Navy has made great pro-gress in enhancing missile availability, three-dimensional operation capability and information capability, and it thus has acquired the ca-pability of offshore defensive operations. The Air Force has acquired an all-weather, all-aerospace and round-the-clock operational capability of a rather high level, and is being equipped with certain high-tech weaponry. The Second Artillery Force has been equipped with short-range, medium-range, long-range and intercontinental missile systems, and has the capability of rapid reaction and mobile operations.

To meet the requirements of an evolving socialist market economy and the restructuring of government organs, the PLA has gradually set up a new weaponry management system since 1998. Based on the strategy of invigorating the armed forces by reliance on science and technology, Chinese armed forces are quickening the pace of new weapon R and D and pushing the development of their armaments by means of scientific and technological innovations. They attach importance to giving play to the role of the market mechanism by encouraging appropriate competition. They are gradually improving their equipment ordering system, and building and improving the research and acquisition contracting system. A system featuring across-the-board and life-cycle management will be gradually practiced, which would raise the quality and control the life-cycle cost of high-tech weapons, and increase the overall effectiveness of weaponry construction. In addition, laws and regulations concerning equipment administration and procedures for equipment work will be improved that fit in with the new management system so that the equipment work will be accomplished in an orderly, coordinated and highly efficient way.

Faced with the world's military developments and the characteristics of modern warfare, the Chinese armed forces will, in the course of modernizing their weaponry, devote themselves to transforming semi-mechanized and mechanized weapon systems to automatized and informationized systems as soon as possible, so that they can possess weapons as advanced as possible and assure the accomplishment of the sacred missions assigned to them by the nation.

Disaster Relief

China is a country vulnerable to natural disasters. To help cope with floods from big rivers, droughts and storms in some areas, and mud-rock flows and landslides along railways and highways, the PLA takes an active part in disaster alleviation projects organized by the local governments. During the past two years, it has participated in building over 20,000 km flood-prevention dikes, over 30 reservoirs, over 300 km anti-tide dams, and more than 300 irrigation and drainage pumping stations, including such comprehensive projects as the Xiaolangdi on the Yellow River, the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River and the Huaihe River Valley, rainfall flow concentration in Gansu Province, and sand prevention and control in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. It has played a positive role in supporting the national economy and sustainable social development. To participate in disaster relief work, the general headquarters/departments, military area commands, provincial military commands and lower-level commands have all assigned personnel to the national and local rescue and relief command organs, to coordinate the command relationship between the military and local governments, formulate rescue and relief measures, establish disaster situation reporting systems, manage relief assets, and implement organization and coordination of disaster relief in a flexible, rapid, efficient and accurate way. The participating units all have their own rescue plans. Routine rescue rehearsals are conducted to keep boats, planes, motor vehicles and other disaster relief assets in readiness for immediate action in case of any disaster. The past two years have witnessed more than 500,000 PLA officers and men participating in more than 100 rescue and relief operations. In particular, in the fight against the floods from the Yangtze, Nenjiang and Songhua rivers in 1998, the PLA contributed more than 300,000 officers and men, as well as 12,500 motor vehicles, 1,170 boats and ships and over 200 planes, repaired or reinforced dikes and dams over 10,000 km long, closed breaches and remove dangers at more than 14,000 places. They also rescued and evacuated more than three million victims, making outstanding contributions to the protection of the people's lives and the state property. The PLA, while engaging in disaster relief, has also taken an active part in post-disaster rehabilitation by raising donations and helping disaster-stricken people to resume production, rebuild homes and overcome difficulties. In the past two years, the armed forces have helped disaster-stricken people to build more than 40,000 houses, and donated over 26 million items of clothing and quilts and other materials worth more than RMB 30 million yuan.