Central Military Commission
The State Council directs and administrates national defense work, and the Central Military Commission (CMC) directs and assumes unified command of the nation's armed forces. The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is organized in accordance with a system whereby the General Staff Department, the General Political Department, the General Logistics Department and the General Armament Department are placed under the leadership of the CMC.
The State Council and the CMC jointly lead mobilization preparation and implementation work. In peacetime the state conducts mobilization preparation and integrates armed mobilization of the people, mobilization of the national economy, civil air defense, national defense transportation and other mobilization preparations into the state's overall development plan and program. It improves the mobilization system step by step, and establishes a strategic materials storage system. The state attaches importance to national defense education and conducts it in line with its plan for economic and social development.
The armed forces of the PRC are composed of the PLA, both the active and reserve components, the Chinese People's Armed Police Force and the militia. The active components of the PLA comprise the state's standing army, which mainly undertakes the task of defensive combat, and helps to maintain social order, if necessary, according to law; reservists undergo military training in peacetime according to relevant regulations, and help to maintain social order, if necessary, according to law, and in wartime they shall be incorporated in the forces in active service in pursuance of the state's mobilization order. The Chinese People's Armed Police Force undertakes the tasks for maintenance of security and social order entrusted by the state. The militiamen, under the command of military organs, perform combat service support and defensive operations, and help to maintain social order. The PLA, comprised of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Second Artillery Force, is organized in seven military area commands nationwide.
Lines between civilian and military leadership and institutions in China are indistinct. All high-ranking military leaders have high-level party positions, and many high-ranking party officials have some military experience. When military leaders participate in national policy making, therefore, it is not clear whether their positions reflect PLA corporate interests or the interests of groups that cut across institutional lines. In general, in times where there was national leadership consensus on national policy, such as in the 1950s, the PLA was politically quiescent. Once the PLA was drawn into civilian politics during the Cultural Revolution, the military became divided along the lines of civilian factions. As long as the national leadership remained divided on a number of policy issues, the PLA, fearing factional struggles and political instability, was reluctant to leave the political scene. When Deng Xiaoping was rehabilitated in 1977, however, the stage was set for the withdrawal of the military from politics and a partial return to the PLA's previous political passivity.
The Central Military Commission (CMC) is the highest military leading body of the Party under the leadership of the Communist Party of China's (CPC) Central Committee and is responsible for directing China's 2.5 million strong armed forces. The commission members are decided by the CPC Central Committee. The Party's organizational system and institutions in the armed forces are decided by the Central Military Commission.
The chairman of the CMC is elected by the National People's Congress [NPC], and the choice of other members is decided on by the NPC or its Standing Committee according to the nomination by the chairman of the CMC. The CMC chairman assumes overall responsibility for the work of the CMC and is responsible to the NPC and has the power to make final decisions on matters within the functions and powers of the CMC.
The armed forces of the PRC are composed of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), both the active and reserve components, the Chinese People's Armed Police Force and the militia. The CMC of the PRC directs and assumes unified command of the nation's armed forces.
Deng Xiaoping's efforts in the 1980s to reduce the political role of the military stemmed from his desire to reassert civilian control over the military and to promote military modernization. To accomplish his objectives, Deng revitalized the civilian party apparatus and leadership and built a consensus on the direction of national policy. He also established personal control over the military through personnel changes, and he reduced the scope of the PLA's domestic political, economic, and social roles. Finally, he strengthened party control over the military through institutional reforms and political and ideological education. The revitalization of the party and the establishment of a consensus on national policy assured top military leaders of political stability and a vigorous party capable of handling national and regional affairs without extensive military participation.
Deng's personal political control was established over the military through his assumption of the position of chairman of the party Central Military Commission in June 1981 and through his appointment of his supporters to key positions in the party Central Military Commission, Ministry of National Defense, and the PLA's General Staff Department, General Political Department, and General Logistics Department. Occasional replacement of military region and military district commanders also strengthened Deng's hand. Military leaders who objected to Deng's policies were replaced with more amenable personnel.
The creation of the state Central Military Commission in 1982 aimed to further strengthen civilian control over the military by stressing the PLA's role as defender of the state and by establishing another layer of supervision parallel to party supervision. The civilianization of several PLA corps and internal security units reduced the size of the PLA and the scope of its involvement in civilian affairs. The placement of defense industries under civilian control and the transfer or opening up of military facilities, such as airports and ports, to civilian authorities also limited the PLA's influence in economic and political matters. Propaganda using the PLA as a model for society also diminished, and emphasis was placed on the PLA's military rather than political role.
The 1982 state Constitution created the state Central Military Commission as the state organ subordinate to the National People's Congress responsible for "directing the country's armed forces". The state Central Military Commission was the state's decision-making body in military affairs and directed and commanded the armed forces. The state Central Military Commission consisted of the chairman, who was commander in chief of the armed forces, an executive vice chairman, two vice chairmen, and four other members.
The party Central Military Commission, elected by the party Central Committee, exercises de facto, authoritative policy-making and operational control over the military through the General Political Department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). In addition to the chairman, the party Central Military Commission in 1987 included a permanent vice chairman who was concurrently secretary general, two vice chairmen, and four deputy secretaries general.
The leadership of the state and party Central Military Commissions was identical, but the membership of the party Central Military Commission below the top leadership was thought to include regional commanders and service chiefs. Because the PLA has been under party control since its inception, the leadership of the party over the military did not change with the establishment of the state Central Military Commission. Although parallel leadership blurred the distinction between the two groups, the party Central Military Commission retained its traditional, preeminent position in charge of military affairs.
Operational control of the PLA ran from the two Central Military Commissions to the PLA's three general departments: General Staff Department, General Political Department, and General Logistics Department. Below the department level ran parallel chains of command for operational, political, and logistical matters, each with its own separate communications facilities. Military policy originated in the party Political Bureau or the party Central Military Commission, became an operational order at the General Staff Department level, flowed through the military regions, and arrived at a main-force unit. Orders to regional forces also passed through the military district (provincial) level.
Rapid Reaction Forces (RRF)
In order to sustain a long peaceful period, and prevent or win a regional conflict, China is seeking to develop a highly competitive, high-technology-based rapid reaction forces (RRF) (kuaisu fanyin budui). This is intended to engage in small-scale, intensive regional military operations. The CMC gave orders to emulate Western rapid deployment forces in developing the PLA's RRF, which began in the early 1980s. Since then, RRFs were set up in PLA Army, Air Force, and Navy units, as well as Army special forces, Army aviation, Marine Corps, and airborne units.
In 1992, a special force named the "Resolving Emergency Mobile Combat Forces" (REMCF) was created directly under the CMC's control. This force was tasked with border defense, dealing with internal armed conflict, maintaining public order, and conducting disaster relief. The REMCF was developed in two phases. Under the first phase, initiated in early 1992, each Group Army corps in every Military Region (MR) selected an infantry division to be the designated REMCF in every Combat Region (CR). The second phase was implemented in 1994, with the development of a second set of of REMCF, along with enhanced ability for "quick fighting, quick resolution" under conditions of high-tech regional warfare. The REMCF development program was completed at the end of 1998, with an estimated 300,000-man REMCF force directly controlled by the CMC.
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