III. China's Leadership and Administration System for National Defense
China has established and keeps improving a leadership and administration system for national defense in accordance with the Constitution, the National Defense Law and other relevant laws. The state exercises unified leadership over national defense activities. China's armed forces are under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The Central Military Commission (CMC) of the CPC and that of the People's Republic of China (PRC) are completely the same in their composition and in their function of exercising leadership over the armed forces. The CMC chairman has overall responsibility for its work.
The National People's Congress (NPC) elects the chairman of the CMC of the PRC and, upon nomination by the chairman, decides on the choice of all other members of the CMC. The NPC decides on war and peace and exercises other functions and powers relating to national defense as prescribed by the Constitution. When the NPC is in recess, its Standing Committee decides on the proclamation of a state of war, decides on the general or partial mobilization of the country, and exercises other functions and powers relating to national defense as prescribed by the Constitution. The president of the PRC, in pursuance of the decisions of the NPC and its Standing Committee, may proclaim a state of war, issue mobilization orders, and exercise other functions and powers relating to national defense as prescribed by the Constitution.
The State Council directs and administers national defense building in the following areas: making national defense development programs and plans, formulating principles, policies and administrative regulations for defense building, administering defense expenditure and assets, directing and administering national defense scientific research and production, directing and administering work related to mobilization of the national economy, mobilization of people's armed forces, people's air defense and national defense traffic, directing and administering the work of supporting the military and giving preferential treatment to families of servicemen and martyrs, as well as the resettlement of servicemen discharged from active service. It also directs national defense education and, jointly with the CMC, the building of the Chinese People's Armed Police Force (PAPF) and the militia, the work concerning enlistment and reserve service, and the administration of border, coastal and air defenses, and exercises other functions and powers relating to national defense building as prescribed by law. Under the State Council are the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and other departments concerning national defense building.
The CMC directs and exercises unified command of China's armed forces. It has the following functions and powers: deciding on the military strategy and operational guidelines of the armed forces, directing and administering the building of the PLA, submitting proposals related to national defense to the NPC or its Standing Committee, formulating military regulations, issuing decisions and orders, deciding on the structure and organization of the PLA, appointing and removing, training, evaluating, and rewarding and punishing members of the armed forces, approving systems and development programs and plans for weaponry and equipment, and exercising other functions and powers as prescribed by law.
The PLA's General Staff Headquarters, General Political Department, General Logistics Department and General Armaments Department are departments of the CMC respectively responsible for military, political, logistical and equipment work. The General Staff Headquarters organizes and directs the development of China's armed forces, and organizes and commands their military operations. Under it are departments in charge of operations, intelligence, communications, military training and arms, adjutant and force structure, mobilization, electronic countermeasures, Army aviation, foreign affairs, etc. Its main functions and powers are to put forward proposals on major issues of military building and operations, organize and exercise strategic command, formulate programs, rules and regulations for military work, and organize and direct war preparations, as well as military training and mobilization. The General Political Department administers the armed forces' Party work, and organizes their political work. Under it are departments in charge of Party affairs, personnel, publicity, security, discipline inspection, civil-military affairs, etc. Its main responsibilities are to ensure the armed forces' compliance with and implementation of the lines, principles and policies of the Party and the Constitution and laws of the state, draw up general and specific policies for political work, formulate rules and regulations for political work, and make arrangements for, supervise and provide guidance to the political work of the armed forces. The General Logistics Department administers the logistical work of the armed forces. Under it are departments in charge of financial matters, quartermaster materials and petroleum, oils and lubricants, health administration, military transportation, capital construction and barracks, auditing, etc. Its main responsibilities are to formulate programs, rules and regulations for logistical construction, deploy logistical forces, organize logistical mobilization and provide logistical support, carry out the application, allocation, budgeting and final accounting of military expenditure, and conduct material procurement. The General Armaments Department administers the provision of equipment for the armed forces. Under it are departments in charge of overall planning, equipment for all services and arms, procurement for Army's military equipment R&D, general-purpose equipment support, electronic information infrastructure, etc. Its main responsibilities are to formulate strategies, programs and plans, policies, and rules and regulations for equipment development, organize equipment R&D, experimentation, procurement, combat service, maintenance and support, and administer the PLA's funds for equipment buildup.
The Army has no independent leading body, and the leadership of it is exercised by the four general headquarters/departments. A military area command exercises direct leadership over the Army units under it. The Army has 18 combined corps, which are mobile combat troops. The Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Force, each of which has a leading body consisting of the headquarters, the political department, the logistics department and the armaments department, direct the military, political, logistical and equipment work of their respective troops, and take part in the command of joint operations. The Navy organizes and commands maritime operations conducted independently by its troops or in support of maritime operations. There are three fleets under the Navy, namely, the Beihai Fleet, Donghai Fleet and Nanhai Fleet. Each fleet has flotillas, aviation divisions, etc. under its command. The Air Force organizes and commands air operations conducted independently by itself or with Air Force personnel as the main fighting force, as well as air defense operations in the capital area. It has an air command in each of the seven military area commands of Shenyang, Beijing, Lanzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, respectively. Under an air command are aviation divisions, ground-to-air missile divisions (brigades and regiments), antiaircraft artillery brigades (regiments), radar brigades (regiments) and other support troops. In major directions and key target areas there are also corps- or division-level command posts. The Second Artillery Force organizes and commands its own troops in case of launching nuclear counterattacks with strategic missiles and conducting operations with conventional missiles. Under it are missile and training bases, and relevant support troops.
Military area commands (theaters of war) are military organizations set up according to the administrative divisions of the state, geographical locations, strategic and operational directions, and operational tasks. They are CMC-appointed organs for commanding joint theater operations. They direct the military, political, logistical and equipment work of the troops under them. Under a military area command are the headquarters, the political department, the joint logistics department and the armaments department. A military area command is mainly in charge of formulating programs and plans for combat readiness and operations of troops in the theater and for the reserve force buildup of the theater, organizing and commanding joint theater operations involving different services and arms, and providing joint logistical support. At present, the PLA has seven military area commands, namely, Shenyang, Beijing, Lanzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. Under a military area command are combined Army corps, units of various Army arms, logistical support units and provincial military commands (garrison commands at the same level).
Provincial military commands (garrison commands at the same level) are organizations set up by the PLA in province-level administrative areas, and are under military area commands. They also serve as departments of Party committees for military work and organs of government for military service at the level of province (municipality directly under the central government, or autonomous region). So, they are under the dual leadership of the military area commands and local Party committees and governments at the same level. The leading body of a provincial military command consists of the headquarters, the political department and the logistics department. A provincial military command directs the military, political, logistical and equipment work of the units under it, and oversees reserve force building, peacetime enlistment and wartime strength mobilization in its area of responsibility.
Prefectural military commands (garrison commands at the same level) are organizations set up by the PLA in prefectures (prefecture-level cities, autonomous prefectures or leagues). They are under provincial military commands, but also serve as departments of Party committees for military work and organs of government for military service at the level of the prefecture (prefecture-level city, autonomous prefecture or league). So, they are under the dual leadership of the provincial military commands and local Party committees and governments at the same level. The leading body of a prefectural military command consists of the headquarters, the political department and the logistics department. The main tasks of a prefectural military command are to oversee the military training, political work and equipment management of the militia and reserve force, organize and conduct wartime mobilization, and undertake military service registration and enlistment. Prefectural military commands in border areas are also in charge of the military, political, logistical and equipment work of border defense troops as well as border defense duties, talks and meetings, and border management, protection and control.
People's armed forces departments are organizations set up by the PLA in counties (banners, county-level cities or municipal districts). They are under prefectural military commands, but also serve as departments of Party committees for military work and organs of government for military service work at the level of the county (banner, county-level city or municipal district). So, they are under the dual leadership of the prefectural military commands and local Party committees and governments at the same level. A people's armed forces department consists typically of a military affairs section, a political work section and a logistics section. Its main tasks are to oversee reserve force buildup, combat readiness, military service and mobilization, and command militia operations. The grass-roots people's armed forces departments established by the state at the level of township (town) or sub-district are non-active-duty organizations. They are manned by full-time staff that are under the dual leadership of the local Party committees and governments at the same level and military organs at higher levels.
In addition, local people's congresses at all levels and the standing committees of local people's congresses at and above the county level ensure the compliance with and implementation of laws and regulations relating to national defense in their respective administrative areas. Local people's governments at all levels, within the authority they enjoy as prescribed by law, are responsible for enlistment, militia forces, reserve service, national defense education, mobilization of the economy, civil air defense, national defense traffic, protection of defense installations, resettlement of servicemen discharged from active service, supporting the PLA and giving preferential treatment to families of servicemen and martyrs and other related matters in their respective administrative areas. Local people's governments at various levels and the military organs stationed there hold joint civil-military meetings as called for to handle matters concerning national defense in their respective administrative areas.