Is the Chinese police a military division?


Dr. Kai Filipiak

To person

PD Dr. Kai Filipiak, born in 1971. Habilitation in 2006. 2006-2009 substitute professorships in Leipzig and Marburg. Studies on the history and cultural history of China. Currently senior assistant at the Chair for Culture and History of China at the East Asian Institute of the University of Leipzig. Current publication: War, the state and the military in the Ming period (1368-1644), Wiesbaden 2008.

The People's Liberation Army is in the midst of upheaval. The Politburo is working hard to modernize the military. Compared to other countries like the USA, however, China spends much less money on its soldiers. It is better to promote the economic upturn.

Military parade for the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. (& copy AP)

facts and figures

The People's Liberation Army (VBA) currently has a total active team of 2.2 million men. Military spending in 2008 was the equivalent of $ 58 billion. That is 17.6 percent more than in 2007. In an international comparison, however, China spends relatively little on the military. The share of expenditure in this area in GDP is only 1.38 percent, for comparison: the USA 4.5 percent. China is a nuclear power, the first Chinese atomic bomb was detonated on October 16, 1964. The state is estimated to have 400 strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. In 2002, the People's Republic was the first nuclear-armed country to ratify the 1997 IAEA Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which provides for expanded controls and special inspections for states with nuclear technology.

organization structure

According to a long Chinese tradition that goes back to the tenth century, the civilian leadership has primacy over the military leadership. Even today, all fundamental military decisions about war, armed forces and national defense are made in the Politburo. The Ministry of Defense mainly serves protocol purposes in order to comply with foreign customs in terms of personnel and structure.

Below the level of the Politburo, the dominant command hierarchy runs from the Central Military Commission to the four headquarters (General Staff, Politics, Logistics, Equipment). The command line continues via the General Staff to the seven large military districts, which command the units and troop divisions of the individual armed forces. The Chinese armed forces can be divided into: land, air and naval forces. These are supplemented by the second artillery, the armed police and the reserve.

The command of the armed forces is the responsibility of the Central Military Commission (ZMK) of the People's Republic of China. She is responsible for national military policy, strategic decisions, military organizational structures, weapons development, coordination of the military budget and the promotion and awards of military leadership personnel.

The ZMK is a party organ that secures the Chinese Communist Party control over the military. The ZMK was founded within the party in 1925. Its current shape dates back to 1975. Since 1989 the state president and general secretary of the party has also been chairman of the ZMK. The incumbent President Hu Jintao is currently in charge of the ZMK.

According to the constitution of the People's Republic of China, the chairman of the ZMK is responsible to the National People's Congress (NPC) and its standing committee. In contrast, the state-owned ZMK, founded in 1982, has no comparable position of power. It is merely an expression of efforts to separate party and state organs. The party and the military are closely linked. It is a subordination relationship, which is expressed in the control of the military by the party on the one hand and the loyal support of the party by the army on the other. The military is controlled through the military budget and personnel management within the army.

The four headquarters consist of the General Staff and the main departments for politics, logistics and military equipment. Each headquarters is headed by a member of the ZMK. The current seven major military districts of Shenyang, Beijing, Lanzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Chengdu are subordinate to the General Staff. The military districts are administrative headquarters. The units (from regiments to the army) and troop divisions (from platoons to battalions) of the individual armed forces are subordinate to them.

The second artillery occupies a special position, which according to Chinese terminology does not have the rank of a part of the armed forces, but is carried as a branch of arms. The term "second artillery" stands for missile forces that are equipped with conventional and nuclear missiles. Due to its strategic importance, the Second Artillery is under direct control by the ZMK. The State Council and ZMK also have the paramilitary units of the armed police, which are officially used for border security, fire fighting and security services. Finally, the military has a reserve that has been part of the PLA since 1986.

In addition to the areas mentioned, which are in turn subdivided, the military has other affiliated facilities and institutions. These include, for example, schools for training and qualification of management personnel (University of National Defense, Academy of Military Sciences, University of National Defense Science and Technology).

Military policy, doctrine and alliances

Until the mid-1980s, Chinese military doctrine aimed for total war with the Soviet Union on the basis of a "people's war". Mao Zedong developed the idea for this during the 1930s. It involved mobilizing the entire people against the enemy. Against the background of changed foreign policy constellations, the move was made in 1985 to prepare the army for temporary and regionally limited military conflicts along the Chinese border. The Soviet Union was still expected to be a potential opponent. As a result, the northern border and the land forces defending it were the focus of Chinese defense policy. At the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, there were profound changes in the strategic direction as a result of foreign and domestic political events.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to a reorientation in national defense. Now priority was given to defending the maritime border, which was reflected in the promotion of the navy and air force. The idea behind this was that China's economic centers are primarily located in the coastal area. Territorial disputes with neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia or Thailand over strategically important islands in the South China Sea led to an expansion of the coastal defense to the deep sea.

The suppression of the Tiananmen movement at home (1989) meant that China was denied access to Western military technology and the modernization of the armed forces was made more difficult. As a result, China again sought rapprochement with Russia in order to acquire Russian military technology.

The third event in the Gulf War in 1990 expanded China's military doctrine to the effect that in future the Chinese armed forces should be able to conduct temporary and regionally limited military conflicts under high-tech conditions. In addition, the Chinese military recognized the great importance of information warfare for future wars.

During the Taiwan crisis in 1995/96, when the US armed forces rushed to support Taiwan as a result of Chinese missile tests in the immediate vicinity of the island, the Chinese realized that the army's current modernization rate was too slow. Since 2002, efforts have therefore been directed towards skipping stages of military development and moving on to adequately equipping the army in the information age.

Official Chinese military doctrine has not changed significantly since 1998 in terms of the general objectives of national defense policy. The 1998 White Paper on National Defense of the People's Republic of China stated that China is pursuing a defensive defense policy, with the development of national defense being subordinate to state economic development. The main goals of national defense at that time were to ward off military aggression and armed coups, as well as to defend the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of China. A policy of first strike was rejected.

The recently published 2008 White Paper on Chinese National Defense formulates the principles of current Chinese defense policy as follows: "China has a defensive defense policy. China defends its national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity. The protection of its national development interests and the interests of the people prevails China is diligently building a strong national defense and a powerful army in harmony with national security and national development interests. It is realizing the unity of a rich fatherland with a strong army in the process of establishing a society of modest prosperity all round.

Economic prosperity instead of military expansion is the declared goal of Chinese politics. In addition, for reasons of the new self-image as a future great power in East Asia with its own interests and objectives, it is reluctant to allow itself to be restricted by international alliances and security cooperations. China does not belong to any military bloc. Nevertheless, according to its own statements, the People's Republic maintains military relations with more than 150 countries. There are Chinese military attach├ęs in 109 states. Since 2007, over 20 military exercises and maneuvers have been carried out with more than 20 countries. In August 2007, the Chinese army took part in a major maneuver outside the country's borders for the first time - together with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The aim of the maneuver was the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism. The military exercises took place in Xinjiang and Russia. They are proof that Central Asia is seen as a threat to the Chinese security architecture.

Along with many other countries, China participates in the Asean Regional Forum (ARF). The aim of the forum is to promote the dialogue between the participating states on questions of politics and security cooperation and to make a contribution to confidence-building and preventive diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region. Although China emphasizes its willingness to deepen cooperation on security issues, it has tended to hinder multilateral security cooperation in the past. This was due not least to Chinese interests in the South China Sea. As a permanent member with the right of veto, China plays an important role in the UN Security Council. This is reflected in the active participation in UN peace missions. From January to July 2009, an average of 2,152 Chinese police officers, soldiers and military advisers took part in various missions. In comparison, Germany participated with an average of 297 people.

As a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the negative attitude of the West after the Tiananmen events, bilateral relations between China and Russia have improved. In 2008 a "Protocol for the additional clarification of the eastern course of the border between China and Russia" was signed, which regulates the course of the border between the two countries. This removed an obstacle that had repeatedly led to political and military conflicts in the past. In addition, an agreement was reached on a deepening of the strategic partnership. An important component of this partnership is cooperation in the military field, with China's interest primarily in acquiring Russian military technology to modernize its armed forces.