The PLA, China's Red Army. Formed in the 1920's to liberate China from the Kuomintang and the Japanese, and later "worldwide liberation". Since 1949, they've played a major role in Chinese politics. "A man with an army can be very political", to quote Gladiator, and it stays true in China. Currently one of the largest armies in the world, with 75 battle-ready divisions, 20% of those being "rapid reaction" units, or special ops. Those troops are equipped with the lastest equipment and are well-trained in surveillance, behind-the-lines actions, and sabotage.

The PLA core is fairly low quality, as demonstrated in the Korean War, but makes it up with numbers. There are not many professional soldiers in the PLA, the core of the army being peasants. Until recently, the "Total War" philosophy dominated the PLA, that is, war should be fought all-out, involving not just soldiers but the civilians as well. Since the 1980's, the CCP has abandoned that to reform the army into a leaner and more efficient fighting machine.

The Gulf War delivered a shock to the Chinese government, especially with the smart bombs. They poured capital into techonological research and modernization efforts, as well as downsizing the army. A recent cut removed around 500,000 members from active duty, allowing the allocation of higher incentives to promote professional soldiering as a more attractive career option. Curent foci of the army administration for modernization include armor, mechanization, logistics and leadership.

The PLA is divided into 7 divisions:

Beijing Military Region - Capital region and northern China
Shenyang Military Region - Northeast China
Jinan Military Region - Eastern China (North Sea Fleet)
Nanjing Military Region - SE China (Taiwan, East Sea Fleet)
Guangzhou Military Region - Southern China (South Sea Fleet)
Lanzhou Military Region - Western China (Xinjiang)
Chengdu Military Region - SW China (Tibet)

The PLA is also aggressively updating its navy and air force, opting for quality instead of numbers. China puts a much higher percentage of its budget into defense than the United States, but it still doesn't come close in terms of actual spending.

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