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The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the principal military force of the People's Republic of China. The PLA consists of five service branches: the Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, and Strategic Support Force. It is under the leadership of the Central Military Commission (CMC) with its chairman as commander-in-chief.
|Chinese People's Liberation Army|
|Literal meaning||"China People Liberation Army"|
|Armed Forces of the|
People's Republic of China
|Special operations force|
|History of the Chinese military|
|Military ranks of China|
The PLA can trace its origins during the Republican Era to the left-wing units of the National Revolutionary Army (NRA) of the Kuomintang (KMT) when they broke away in 1927 in an uprising against the nationalist government as the Chinese Red Army, before being reintegrated into the NRA as units of New Fourth Army and Eighth Route Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The two NRA communist units were reconstituted as the PLA in 1947. Since 1949, the PLA has used nine different military strategies, which it calls "strategic guidelines". The most important came in 1956, 1980, and 1993. In times of national emergency, the People's Armed Police (PAP) and the China Militia act as a reserve and support element for the Ground Force. Politically, the PLA and PAP are represented in the National People's Congress (NPC) through a delegation of 285 deputies, all of whom are CCP members. Since the formation of the NPC, the joint PLA–PAP delegation has always constituted the largest delegation and today comprises just over 9% of the NPC.
PRC law explicitly asserts the leadership of the CCP over the armed forces of China and designates the CMC as the nationwide military command of the People's Republic of China. The Party CMC operates under the name of the State CMC for legal and governmental functions, and the ceremonial Ministry of National Defense is limited to diplomatic functions. The PLA is obliged to follow the principle of the CCP's absolute civilian control of the military under the doctrine of "the party commands the gun" (Chinese: 党指挥枪; pinyin: Dǎng zhǐhuī qiāng) In this sense, the PLA is not a national army of the type of traditional nation-states, but a political army or the armed branch of the CCP itself since its allegiance is to the party only and not the state or any constitution. At present, the CMC chairman is customarily also the CCP general secretary.
Today, the majority of military units around the country are assigned to one of five theater commands by geographical location. The PLA is the world's largest military force (not including paramilitary or reserve forces) and has the second largest defense budget in the world. China's military expenditure was US$292 billion in 2022, accounting for 13 percent of the world's defense expenditures. It is also one of the fastest modernizing militaries in the world, and has been termed as a potential military superpower, with significant regional defense and rising global power projection capabilities.
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