Eastern Theater Command
The five theater commands, which are identified by their strategic locations in east, south, west, north and central China, base their army headquarters in Fuzhou, Fujian Province; Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; Lanzhou, Gansu Province; Jinan, Shandong Province and Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, respectively. The five replaced the former seven military area commands in Beijing, Nanjing, Chengdu, Ji'nan, Shenyang, Lanzhou and Guangzhou as of early 2016. Infrastructure, including communication facilities in the previous seven military area commands, has been taken into consideration for the locations of the headquarters, so that follow-up work on military reform could start as soon as possible.
China's Ministry of National Defense (MND) held a special press conference in Beijing on February 1, 2016, at which the Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun answered journalists' questions about the adjustment and establishment of the theater commands. The new system separates the combat and construction or logistic missions. The theater commands will focus on engagement, while the PLA army, navy and air force will focus on developing their respective forces, said the source. All five commands are expected to have their own army and air force, while naval forces are not likely to be deployed by all five commands. There's no need to build a temporary command system when war erupts, as the joint operations of each theater command will suffice, which is also helpful for troops to successfully fulfill their training and mission, said the source. The five commands will only deploy their own force against security threats, and they need to report to the CMC for additional support.
The Army's subordinate organs within the five theater commands are built on the basis of certain functions and institutions of the former MACs, the Navy's subordinate organs within the five theater commands are built on the basis of relevant naval fleets, and the Air Force's subordinate organs within five theater commands are built on the basis of the air force of former MACs. To date, the adjustment and establishment of the services' organs within five theater commands has been completed.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command sent troops from multiple military branches and organized consecutive, realistic drills in the Taiwan Straits and its northern and southern ends, the command said on 13 August 2020. The drills were not just to deter the provocative and dangerous connections between the island and the US, but also to train the forces for massive military operations. If the Taiwan secessionists and the US cross the bottom line set by the mainland's Anti-Secession Law, the mainland needs to take actions to solve the problem immediately.
The Chinese mainland openly warned Taiwan secessionists by conducting massive military drills in the Taiwan Straits. Chinese experts said this is a clear and unprecedented deterrence toward secessionists of the island as well as the US, as the Trump administration has increased its links with the Taiwan secessionist authority, and the possibility of peaceful reunification is decreasing sharply.
The mainland experts said the drills are a resolute response to the US and Taiwan secessionists. The PLA seldom makes public the aim of its exercises, and by announcing the aim this time being "a certain major power," which almost directly points at the United States and "Taiwan independence" forces, it is sending a very clear, direct and strong warning to the US and Taiwan secessionists. According to the spokesperson's statement, the drills covered large areas of the Taiwan Straits, and featured many military branches in a joint operation. This means the drills must be of a large scale and could have involved warplanes, warships, amphibious troops, artillery and missiles.
The drills showed the PLA can launch attacks on Taiwan secessionists from any direction of the Taiwan Straits. And unlike some predictions from the US and the island that the PLA will only concentrate on striking a few key strategic locations on the island, if and when the operation is launched, all places in the region will become battlefields. If the US and Taiwan secessionists go further, the PLA could take more countermeasures, including live-fire missile drills east of Taiwan island and near Guam. Some Chinese mainland military observers also suggested the PLA can send warplanes through the airspace of the island.
Over the week since 01 October 2021, the PLA consecutively held military drills near the island of Taiwan, dispatching a whopping 150 warplanes of different types to the region, breaking records in terms of exercise scale three times in the process. On the October 1, first day of the National Day holidays, breaking the previous record of 28 that was set in June, 38 PLA aircraft entered the island of Taiwan's self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone, with many also circling to the southeast side of the island, before returning to the mainland, according to press releases the defense authorities on the island published on the day.
Saturday witnessed 39 PLA warplanes active near the island, refreshing the record only one day after it was set. After 16 PLA aircraft approached the island on Sunday, which was not even surprising by then, 56 came on Monday, again breaking the record in the number of PLA aircraft dispatched for drills near the island of Taiwan in a single day. PLA drills seemed to have taken a pause after that, with only one aircraft edging near the island on Tuesday, and none on Wednesday, according to the island's defense authorities.
In these exercises, the PLA sent many different types of aircraft, including fighter jets, bombers, early warning aircraft and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, and they operated during not only days, but also nights. The participation of anti-submarine warfare aircraft indicates that the PLA must have dispatched not only aerial forces, but also maritime forces in joint tasks, analysts said. In one week alone, the PLA sent at least 150 aircraft near the island of Taiwan, making the total number in 2021 as of early October surpassing 600, compared to about 380 in the entire 2020 and about 10 in 2019, a media outlet on the island said.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|