UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Shenyang Military Region was one of seven military regions extant from 1987 to 1985. The thirteen military regions established by 1956 were reduced to eleven in the late 1960s. Those eleven military regions were reduced to seven by 1985-88. The seven military regions were reduced to five military regions as of 01 January 2016.

Shenyang Military Region
Shenyang Military Area Command

The northeastern Chinese provinces of Liaoning and Jilin share borders with North Korea. These two provinces and Heilongjiang are part of the Shenyang Military Region, which was one of seven military regions of the People's Liberation Army. The International Institute for Strategic Studies listed the Shenyang army formations in 2006 with an estimated 250,000 personnel, three group armies, and two armored, one mechanised, four motorised, and one artillery division. It also listed two armored, five motorised, three artillery, four anti-aircraft and one anti-tank brigades with the formation. Known formations and units at that time included the 16th Group Army, headquartered at Changchun, with a motorised infantry division, motorised infantry brigade, the 4th Armoured Division (Meihekou, Jilin) and artillery and anti-aircraft brigades, and the 39th Group Army in Liaoning, and the 40th Group Army headquartered at Jinzhou, Liaoning. The 23rd Group Army was disbanded during the reductions which began in 2003. In Korea in the 1950s, the 23rd Army had included the 67th, 69th, and 73rd Divisions. Two units directly subordinate to the MR headquarters are the 68th Motorized Infantry Brigade, Qiqihar, Heilongjiang (from 23rd Group Army), and the 69th Motorized Infantry Division, Harbin, Heilongjiang (from 23rd Group Army).

The Shenyang Military Region was comprised of four group armies, three military districts, a combined arms tactical training base, a "confidential technology dadui", an electronic countermeasures regiment, a special operations dadui, and a "hi-tech" unit (that could possibly be the confidential tech dadui). The Shenyang military region covers the north-eastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning, which border the Korean peninsula and Russia's Far East, and so the region deals with threats coming from those areas. It bore the full brunt of the Korean War in the 1950s.

The military region covered the Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongiang provinces. According to analysts, the Shenyang Military Region was the second most important of the military regions. Headquartered in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, it commands an area close to Beijing, as well as regions bordering on the Russian Far East and North Korea. Its forces also contributed heavily to the offensive on the Tiananmen demonstrators. Furthermore, the Shenyang Military Region appears to be one of the most enterprising of the military regions having listed one of its companies, the Songliao Vehicle Group, on the Shanghai stock exchange.

The Soviets, alarmed by the rising crescendo of border incidents, seriously began to augment their forces along the Sino-Soviet border in 1967 and simultaneously signed a 20-year defense pact with the People’s Republic of Mongolia. The Chinese, with 14 divisions in the Shenyang Military Region, five in Inner Mongolia, and five in Sinkiang had about half a million soldiers in the border areas. This was the setting when on 2 March 1969 open warfare began on Damansky (or Chen Pao) Island in the Ussuri River.

Although the events of 1969 clearly heightened Peking's concern, Chinese military reaction apparently continued to be cautious and primarily deEensive in character. In 1969, Inner Mongolia was divided among the Shenyang, Peking and Lanchou Military Regions, an action which provides firmer command aDd control over the northern border area. Deployment of radar in the area was increased. The reported increase in the level of training, particularly among air and naval units, was almost certainly linked with Sino-Soviet tensions.

Considering its importahce, the Army probably had made less progress in modernization than might have been expected. CIA reported in 1970 that detailed study of aerial photography of installations in the Shenyang Military Region sbowed that up to the time of the last overflights the manning and equipment levels of units varied widely. More significantly, the great majority of units in the armies of the Shenyang Military Region appeared to be serlously deficient in mobility and firepower - specifically artilery, trucks and other wheeled vehicles, armor and annw support vehicles - by US or Soviet standatds. Even by the standarda that CIA estimated for the Chinese TO&E, they were seriously deficient in mobility and had short comings in firepower. Because of their strategic location, the Shenyang units should have had at least an average claim to new and additional equipment: thus it seemed likely that stmilar equipment shortages were common among Chinese armies elsewhere.

Although all the armies of the Shenyang Military Region had three Infantry divisions. there were variations resulting from the addition of rear Rervice, AAA, or infantry units and the absence of some artillery, infantry. and tank assault gun: regiments normally organic to army headquarters or the subordinate divisions. For the most part, these variations appeared to result from variations in the mission of particular divisions.

Shenyang's armies had fewer infantry regiments than CIA expected in 1970. The great majority of these units' appeared to be seriously deficient in wheeled vehicles even by estimated Chinese TO&E standards. Only a few regiments had storage capacity for tbelr estimated standard number of wheeled vehicles. Most had far less than this standard. Vehicles were observed infrequently at most infantry units, and a fairly large number of regiments were observed without any wheeled vehicles being sighted.

Antitank guu were identified at only a small number of the regiments observed, and only occasionally at these. This suggested that most Chinese infantry regiments even by 1970 did not contain the heavy weapons battalion with nine anti-tank guns prevlously estimated as standard. In some armies, at least, the mortar ahd recoilless rifle companies which were previously part of this heavy weapons battalion probably still existed, possibly attached to regimental headquarters separate eompanies. Little in the way of special vehicles and equipment was observed at Infantty dlvisicms. Few examples of efforts to increase the strength of Infantry regiments were observed. The armor strength of the Shenyang armies was contllned in the tank and assau1t-gun regiments of their infantry divisions. Almost all observed had such regiments. Of these, the majority had the normal three regiments.

On New Year’s Day 1974, Peking, revealed that nine of the eleven commanders of military regions had been reshuffled, thereby "removing them from their mountaintops,” i.e., from the regions in which they had built up intimate and long-standing political, economic, and governmental ties. Ch’en Hsi-lien, who had been in command of the Shenyang Military Region (three provinces of Manchuria) since 1959, was transferred to command the Peking Military Region.

In 1979, a Shenyang Military Region division was praised for having halved the time devoted to training in bayonet fighting and grenade throwing. The time was allocated to further training in antitank, anti-chemical. and anti-air defense. Training in the use of anti-tank rocket launchers was increased from 144 to 190 hours.

The Chinese army announced a series of major changes in high-ranking positions last month, reflecting a drive to strengthen links between headquarters and grass-roots units, and between theory and practice in military affairs. On 24 July 2009, speaking at a study session of the Politburo on the eve of Army Day, President Hu Jintao said, "We should enhance civil-military integration in the army training system." His statement was seen as an endorsement of the policy of "welcoming high-level personnel from society to work in the army." General Staff officers exchanged positions with leading cadres from a number of military regions. Bai Jianjun, a commander from the Jinnan Military Region, was named a minister in the General Staff Department, while Mou Mingbin, a vice-minister, was transferred to Shenyang Military Region as a vice-commander.

In July 2010 China appeared to be stepping up its military preparedness in case of conflict on the Korean peninsula. Separate inspection trips made by two top generals in June to Shenyang Military Regions sparked the speculation. General Guo Boxiong and Gen Xu Caihou are vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission (CMC), China's top military body, which was chaired by President Hu Jintao himself. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Daily reported the generals' visits. The pro-Beijing Wen Wei Po noted that it was rare that both CMC vice-chairmen should inspect the same military region within a month. It also noted that the PLA newspaper did not refer to Shenyang as a military region, or jun qu, but as a theater, or zhan (warfare) qu. The conversion of the Shenyang military region to a theatre indicates that China was taking the possible threat of conflict seriously.

Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, met a delegation from the Shenyang Military Region in northeastern China at the Mansudae Assembly Hall. Kim Yong Chun, vice-chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission and minister of the People's Armed Forces, met the Chinese delegation, which arrived in Pyongyang on 25 August 2010. Kim said the traditional DPRK-China friendship, which was fostered by the older generation of revolutionaries of the two countries, would be further strengthened under the care of the two countries' current leaders. Zhang Youxia, head of the Chinese delegation and commander of the Shenyang Military Region, conveyed Chinese leaders' greetings to Kim. Zhang said the Chinese side was keen to consolidate the China-DPRK friendship, adding the Shenyang Military Region will make active efforts to further develop bilateral military exchanges and cooperation.

China's new land-based mid-range Surface to Air Missile (SAM) system reached operational capability in September 2011. Military observers say that deployment of this missile system will boost China's air defense capability. The new SAM system, dubbed by foreign media as the Hongqi-16, or Red Flag-16, has been delivered to an air defense unit in the Shenyang Military Region.

The ZTZ99 (also known as Type 99, industrial designation WZ123) manufactured by China Northern Industries Group Corporation (CNGC) was the most advanced main battle tank (MBT) fielded by the PLA. First entering the PLA service in late 2001, the ZTZ99 provides a significant improvement in firepower, mobility, and protection compared to older Chinese-made tanks. As a ‘high-end’ MBT, the ZTZ99 was only built in a small number (~200) due to high unit price (~US$1.9 Million in 1999). These tanks were deployed by two elite armor regiments in Beijing and Shenyang Military Regions. Some of the ZTZ99’s technologies have been used to upgrade the less expensive ZTZ96 MBT.

In April 2013 China’s military and defense ministry confirmed that military forces in a border region near North Korea conducted live-fire drills amid tensions between North Korea and the United States. The Communist Party newspaper Global Times reported Sunday that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) carried out live fire maneuvers in Shenyang, near the North Korean border, on 01 April 2013.

A North Korean collapse could require a very large multinational stabilization force. China would likely respond by mobilizing the Shenyang Military Region forces and could send forces into North Korea to control refugee flow. "The likelihood of confrontations, whether intentional or accidental, between United States and Chinese forces would be high, with a significant potential for escalation," according to James Dobbins, a senior fellow at RAND. On the other hand, it was equally possible that a North Korean collapse could engender a cooperative U.S. and Chinese response, with both countries joining others in seeking to stabilize the situation.

Leadership (as of : 03 March 2015)

Sheng Bin, Deputy commander of the Shenyang Military Area Command
Former position: Commander of the Heilongjiang provincial military command
Predecessor: Hou Jizhen, retired
Wang Bianjiang, political commissar of the Liaoning provincial military command
Former position: Deputy political commissar of the joint logistics department, Shenyang Military Area Command
Predecessor: Zhang Lin, whose current position is undisclosed
Wang Aiguo, investigated in November, 2014
Former position: Director of joint logistics department under Shenyang Military Area Command

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 04-12-2017 12:12:30 ZULU