III. Defending National Sovereignty, Security and Territorial Integrity
The fundamental tasks of China's armed forces are consolidating national defense, resisting foreign aggression and defending the motherland. Responding to China's core security needs, the diversified employment of the armed forces aims to maintain peace, contain crises and win wars; safeguard border, coastal and territorial air security; strengthen combat-readiness and warfighting-oriented exercises and drills; readily respond to and resolutely deter any provocative action which undermines China's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity; and firmly safeguard China's core national interests.
Safeguarding Border and Coastal Security
With a borderline of more than 22,000 km and a coastline of more than 18,000 km, China is one of the countries with the most neighbors and the longest land borders. Among all China's islands, more than 6,500 are larger than 500 square meters each. China's island coastline is over 14,000 km long. China's armed forces defend and exercise jurisdiction over China's land borders and sea areas, and the task of safeguarding border and coastal security is arduous and complicated.
The border and coastal defense forces of the PLAA are stationed in border and coastal areas, and on islands. They are responsible for defense and administrative tasks such as safeguarding the national borders, coastlines and islands, resisting and guarding against foreign invasions, encroachments and provocations, and assisting in cracking down on terrorist sabotage and cross-border crimes. The border and coastal defense forces focus on combat-readiness duties, strengthen the defense and surveillance of major directions and sensitive areas, watercourses and sea areas in border and coastal regions, maintain a rigorous guard against any invasion, encroachment or cross-border sabotage, prevent in a timely fashion any violation of border and coastal policies, laws and regulations and changes to the current borderlines, carry out civil-military joint control and management, and emergency response missions promptly, and effectively safeguard the security and stability of the borders and coastal areas.
China has signed border cooperation agreements with seven neighboring countries, and established mechanisms with 12 countries for border defense talks and meetings. The border and coastal defense forces of the PLA promote friendly cooperation in joint patrols, guard duties and joint control-management drills with their counterparts of Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Vietnam, respectively. They also organize annual mutual inspections to supervise and verify the implementation of confidence-building measures in border areas with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
The PLAN strengthens maritime control and management, systematically establishes patrol mechanisms, effectively enhances situational awareness in surrounding sea areas, tightly guards against various types of harassment, infiltration and sabotage activities, and copes promptly with maritime and air incidents and emergencies. It advances maritime security cooperation, and maintains maritime peace and stability, as well as free and safe navigation. Within the framework of the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA), the Chinese and US navies regularly exchange maritime information to avoid accidents at sea. According to the Agreement on Joint Patrols by the Navies of China and Vietnam in the Beibu Gulf, the two navies have organized joint patrols twice a year since 2006.
The border public security force is an armed law-enforcement body deployed by the state in border and coastal areas, and at ports. It assumes important responsibilities of safeguarding national sovereignty, and maintaining security and stability in border, coastal and sea areas, as well as entry and exit order at ports. It carries out diversified tasks of maintaining stability, combating crimes, conducting emergency rescues and providing security in border areas. The border public security force establishes border control zones along the borderlines, establishes maritime defense zones in the coastal areas, establishes border surveillance areas 20 to 50 meters in depth along land border and coastline areas adjacent to Hong Kong and Macao, sets up border inspection stations at open ports, and deploys a marine police force in coastal areas. In recent years, regular strict inspections, management and control in border areas and at ports have been carried out to guard against and subdue separatist, sabotage, violent and terrorist activities by the "three forces" or hostile individuals. The border public security force takes strict and coordinated measures against cross-border fishing activities, strengthens law enforcement by maritime security patrols, and clamps down on maritime offenses and crimes. Since 2011, it has handled 47,445 cases, seized 12,357 kg of drugs, confiscated 125,115 illegal guns, and tracked down 5,607 illegal border-crossers.
The militia takes an active part in combat readiness duties, joint military-police-civilian defense efforts, post duties, and border protection and control tasks in the border and coastal areas. Militia members patrol along the borders and coastlines all year round.
Safeguarding Territorial Air Security
The PLAAF is the mainstay of national territorial air defense, and in accordance with the instructions of the CMC, the PLAA, PLAN and PAPF all undertake some territorial air defense responsibilities. In peacetime, the chain of command of China' s air defense runs from the PLAAF headquarters through the air commands of the military area commands to air defense units. The PLAAF exercises unified command over all air defense components in accordance with the CMC's intent. China's air defense system is composed of six sub-systems of reconnaissance and surveillance, command and control, aerial defense, ground air defense, integrated support and civil air defense. China has established an air defense force system that integrates reconnaissance and early warning, resistance, counterattack and protection. For air situation awareness means, air detection radars and early warning aircraft are the mainstay, supplemented by technical and ECM reconnaissance. For resistance means, fighters, fighter-bombers, ground-to-air missiles and antiaircraft artillery troops are the mainstay, supplemented by the strengths from the PLAA air defense force, militia and reserves, as well as civil air defense. For integrated protection means, various protection works and strengths are the mainstay, supplemented by specialized technical protection forces.
The PLAAF organizes the following routine air defense tasks: reconnaissance and early warning units are tasked with monitoring air situations in China's territorial air space and surrounding areas and keeping abreast of air security threats. Command organs at all levels are tasked with assuming routine combat readiness duties with the capital as the core, and border and coastal areas as the key, and commanding air defense operations at all times. Routine air defense troops on combat duty are tasked with carrying out air vigilance and patrols at sea, conducting counter-reconnaissance in border areas and verifying abnormal and unidentified air situations within the territory. The air control system is tasked with monitoring, controlling and maintaining air traffic order so as to ensure flight safety.
Maintaining Constant Combat Readiness
Combat readiness refers to the preparations and alert activities of the armed forces for undertaking operational tasks and MOOTW, and it is the general, comprehensive and regular work of the armed forces. It is an important guarantee for coping with various security threats and accomplishing diversified military tasks to enhance the capabilities of combat readiness and maintain constant combat readiness. The PLA has a regular system of combat readiness. It improves infrastructure for combat readiness, carries out scenario-oriented drills, and earnestly organizes alert duties, border, coastal and air defense patrols and guard duties. It keeps itself prepared for undertaking operational tasks and MOOTW at all times. Based on different tasks, the troops assume different levels of readiness (Level III, Level II and Level I, from the lowest degree of alertness to the highest).
The routine combat readiness work of the PLAA serves to maintain normal order in border areas and protect national development achievements. Relying on the operational command organs and command information system, it strengthens the integration of combat readiness duty elements, explores joint duty probability within a theater, and optimizes the combat readiness duty system in operational troops at and above the regiment level. It ensures the implementation of combat readiness work through institutionalized systems and mechanisms. It creates a combat readiness system with inter-connected strategic directions, combined arms and systematized operational support. Thus, the PLAA keeps sound combat readiness with agile maneuvers and effective response. The routine combat readiness work of the PLAN serves to safeguard national territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. It carries out diversified patrols and provides whole-area surveillance in a cost-effective way. The PLAN organizes and performs regular combat readiness patrols, and maintains a military presence in relevant sea areas. All fleets maintain the necessary number of ships patrolling in areas under their respective command, beef up naval aviation reconnaissance patrols, and organize mobile forces to conduct patrols and surveillance in relevant sea areas, as required. The PLAAF focuses its daily combat readiness on territorial air defense. It follows the principles of applicability in both peacetime and wartime, all-dimension response and full territorial reach, and maintains a vigilant and efficient combat readiness. It organizes air alert patrols on a regular basis to verify abnormal and unidentified air situations promptly. The PLAAF command alert system takes PLAAF command posts as the core, field command posts as the basis, and aviation and ground air defense forces on combat duty as the pillar.
The PLASAF keeps an appropriate level of readiness in peacetime. It pursues the principles of combining peacetime needs with wartime needs, maintaining vigilance all the time and being ready to fight. It has formed a complete system for combat readiness and set up an integrated, functional, agile and efficient operational duty system to ensure rapid and effective responses to war threats and emergencies. If China comes under a nuclear threat, the nuclear missile force will act upon the orders of the CMC, go into a higher level of readiness, and get ready for a nuclear counterattack to deter the enemy from using nuclear weapons against China. If China comes under a nuclear attack, the nuclear missile force of the PLASAF will use nuclear missiles to launch a resolute counterattack either independently or together with the nuclear forces of other services. The conventional missile force is able to shift instantly from peacetime to wartime readiness, and conduct conventional medium- and long-range precision strikes.
Carrying out Scenario-based Exercises and Drills
The PLA takes scenario-based exercises and drills as the basic means to accelerate the transition in military training and raise combat capabilities. It widely practices in training such operational concepts in conditions of informationization as information dominance, confrontation between different systems, precision strike, fusion, integration and jointness. It organizes training based on real combat needs, formations and procedures. It pays special attention to confrontational command training, live independent force-on-force training and training in complex battlefield environments. Thus, the warfighting capabilities based on information systems have been thoroughly improved.
Carrying out trans-MAC training. To develop rapid-response and joint-operation capabilities in unfamiliar environments and complex conditions, the divisions and brigades of the same specialty with similar tasks and tailored operational environments are organized to carry out a series of trans-MAC live verification-oriented exercises and drills in the combined tactical training bases. In 2009, the Shenyang, Lanzhou, Jinan and Guangzhou MACs each sent one division to join long-distance maneuvers and confrontational drills. Since 2010, a series of campaign-level exercises and drills code-named "Mission Action" for trans-MAC maneuvers have been carried out. Specifically, in 2010 the Beijing, Lanzhou and Chengdu MACs each sent one division (brigade) led by corps headquarters, together with some PLAAF units, to participate in the exercise. In 2011, relevant troops from the Chengdu and Jinan MACs were organized and carried out the exercise in plateau areas. In 2012, the Chengdu, Jinan and Lanzhou MACs and relevant PLAAF troops were organized and carried out the exercise in southwestern China.
Highlighting force-on-force training. The various services and arms are intensifying confrontational and verification-oriented exercises and drills. Based on different scenarios, they organize live force-on-force exercises, online confrontational exercises and computer-simulation confrontational exercises. The PLAAF creates complex battlefield environments based on its training bases, organizes confrontational exercises on "Red-Blue" war systems under informationized conditions, either between MAC air forces or between a combined "Blue Team" and MAC air force ("Red Team"). The Second Artillery Forces carry out confrontational training of reconnaissance vs. counter-reconnaissance, jamming vs. counter-jamming, and precision strikes vs. protection and counterattack, in complex battlefield environments. They are strengthening safety protection and operational skills training under nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) threats. Units of different missile types are organized to conduct live-firing launching tasks annually.
Intensifying blue water training. The PLAN is improving the training mode of task force formation in blue water. It organizes the training of different formations of combined task forces composed of new types of destroyers, frigates, ocean-going replenishment ships and shipborne helicopters. It is increasing its research and training on tasks in complex battlefield environments, highlighting the training of remote early warning, comprehensive control, open sea interception, long-range raid, anti-submarine warfare and vessel protection at distant sea. The PLAN organizes relevant coastal forces to carry out live force-on-force training for air defense, anti-submarine, anti-mine, anti-terrorism, anti-piracy, coastal defense, and island and reef sabotage raids. Since 2007, the PLAN has conducted training in the distant sea waters of the Western Pacific involving over 90 ships in nearly 20 batches. During the training, the PLAN took effective measures to respond to foreign close-in reconnaissance and illegal interference activities by military ships and aircraft. From April to September 2012, the training vessel Zhenghe completed global-voyage training, paying port calls to 14 countries and regions.