Strategic Analysis

Strategic Analysis:
A Monthly Journal of the IDSA

October 1999 (Vol. XXIII No. 7)


China’s Naval Structure and Dynamics
By Srikanth Kondapalli *


The structure and processes of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) have undergone several changes and reorganisations in the last 50 years of its existence to cope with the political and strategic demands set forth by the military leadership of the country in various periods. Though the naval structure of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) remained largely subservient to the land-based forces in the beginnings of the republic, several changes in the recent period, including the revision of naval strategy, modernisation and reorganisation of the armed forces, including that of the navy, the new demands of the current leadership that wants to usher the forces into “a new period of armed forces’ construction”, and so on, have led to far-reaching changes in the structure of the PLAN.

The Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is in charge of the overall performance of the PLAN. 1   The PLAN, in turn, is controlled by the naval headquarters, both of which are guided by the General Staff Department and the Ministry of National Defence. 2   The naval headquarters is guided by a retinue of officials, including the commander and political commissar, who are assisted by their deputies and other staff members. 3   These personnel, in various capacities, supervise the functioning of the PLAN, its operations, technical requirements, and training of officers and men. They enlist the future strategic, tactical and technical requirements of the building of the naval forces to the higher organisations of the Chinese military by studying the previous and present experiences in various naval fields. 4   Several departments were established in the PLAN that specialised in various aspects, including the departments of equipment and technology, foreign affairs, health, import, political, training, logistics and planning. 5   Three additional departments, including those for equipment repair and aviation, were formed. 6   The naval equipment and technology department, along with the naval equipment-repairing department, by 1986 jointly supervised the construction work at the 34 dockyards in various parts of the country. These were charged with the responsibility of repairing warships, and building new naval vessels. 7


1. Surface Fleet (shuimian jianting budui)

The PLAN is composed of five major arms: surface fleets, submarine corps, the naval air force, coastal guards, and marine corps. However, some of these arms were formed in the latest period or were re-established so as to give shape to a modern offshore combat force. According to the Chinese naval officers’ manual, the responsibilities of the surface fleet are as follows:

The organisation of the PLAN into various fleets has undergone a change. 9   The PLAN consisted of three major fleets, viz., North Sea Fleet (Beihai jiandui), East Sea Fleet (Donghai jiandui), and South Sea Fleet (Nanhai jiandui) from 1954. 10   These three fleets are equivalent to the army level. All the three fleets have command over their respective naval vessels and operations, except on the submarine flotillas in combat. Each naval base operates as the highest-level combat unit that can independently engage in battle. 11  

Of the three fleets, the North Sea Fleet and East Sea Fleet, headquartered at Qingdao in Shandong Province and Ningbo in Zhejiang Province respectively, were the most powerful in the earlier period of the PLAN’s history. The reasons for the growth in the influence of these fleets, allocation of forces, equipment and relative power are numerous. Hostilities with the US on the question of Taiwan in the 1950s, and subsequently with the USSR in the 1960s and 1970s increased the relative influence of these fleets. The North Sea Fleet’s vessels and submarines form the “combat backbone” of the PRC’s naval force with nearly 300 ships, including two tactical submarine squads. 12   The North Sea Fleet is tasked with defending the coast off north and north-east China, including the capital Beijing, the rich industrial belt of Tianjin, Harbin, Shenyang, Jilin and naval ports from attacks emanating from the Yellow Sea and Gulf of Bohai, i.e., from the north-east region to the mouth of the Changjiang River. 13   Protection of the offshore oilrigs in the region is also its responsibility. In this sector, it has its orientation towards the USSR/Russian Far East, Koreas and Japan. Naval responsibilities of the three significant Military Regions, viz., Beijing, Shenyang, and Jinan are equated with this fleet. 14   Each of the three fleets has naval bases (jidi) equivalent to corps level. 15   Major naval bases of the North Sea Fleet include Qingdao, Lushun and Xiaoping, and minor ones are situated at Weihaiwei, Qingshan, Dalian, Huludao, Lienyun, Lingshan, Ta Kushan, Changshan, Liu Zhang and Dayuanjiadun. 16   Of the major bases, Lushun is located at a strategic position, between the Bohai Straits and the Miaodao and Penglai Cape of Shandong Province. It is generally considered as the “door to Beijing and Tianjin”, protecting the capital city and the industrial port of the country respectively. 17   In the 1987-88 period, it was reported that a new naval base capable of accommodating “dozens of naval missile destroyers” became operational. This base, probably situated at Dalian, was described as “the biggest artificial harbour in the Far East.” 18   When the Soviet threat was at its height, the North Sea Fleet played a significant role in the maritime defence of the country.

Further down the coast is the East Sea Fleet with orientation towards Taiwan and the Pacific Ocean encompassing the seas from Lianyungang to Dongshan and equating with the Nanjing Military Region and seaward. 19   Major naval bases are located at Ningbo, Zhoushan, Shanghai, and Fujian. Minor bases are situated at Zhenjiangshan, Wusong, Xiaxiang, Wenzhou, Sanduo, Xiamen, Xingxiang, Quandou, Wenzhou SE and Wuhan. During the period when the Taiwanese repeatedly bombarded the coastal region of China and intruded into the second largest industrial and agricultural belt of the country, the East Sea Fleet was tasked to counter these onslaughts. This is one of the reasons for the presence of the highest number of large surface combatants in this fleet. 20   However, it was only after a prolonged effort that this fleet could deter the Taiwanese and acquire a modicum of sea superiority in the Straits. Nevertheless, to this day, due to the impact of the Cold War, and as a result of the US-Taiwan relations and the Taiwan Straits crisis of 1958, Taiwan is still in control of many islands off its shores. The PRC, despite its best efforts, could not recover these islands, including Taiwan. With the unification of China on top of the agenda of the PRC leadership, and signs of an “independence movement in Taiwan”, the East Sea Fleet is expected to play a crucial role in the coming years.

The South Sea Fleet had been a relatively weaker fleet in the early years of the development of the PLAN compared with the other two fleets. Its orientation is towards South-East Asia and Australia with an area of responsibility from Dongshan to the Gulf of Tonkin, seaward off Guangzhou Military Region. Major bases of this fleet are located at Zhanjiang (headquaters), Yulin and Guangzhou with minor ones at Haikou, Huangfu, Shantou, Humen, Guanquang, Zun, Mawei, Guanzhong, Beihai, Pingtan, Shanzhoushi, Dangjiahuan, Longmen, Bailong, Dongcun, Baimajing, and Xiachuandao. Given the future projections of the PRC, the South Sea Fleet has been acquiring a new thrust in terms of men and material and could play a decisive role in the resolution of the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. With the shifting of economic progress from the north-east and east towards the south-east coastal regions, reverting of Hong Kong to China in 1997, protecting sovereignty rights and maritime trade emanating to and from the Special Economic Zones and one of the largest free trade ports in this region, would be an added responsibility for this fleet.

The organisation of the naval vessels into the three fleets has been a difficult subject, constrained, as it were, by a relative lack of accurate information on their dispersal, and the changes and developments over a period of time left the forces modified in various configurations. Specifically, the varied composition of the Chinese naval forces, i.e., of different classes and types, made the task of division of the naval ships difficult. However, the problems related to logistics, training and so on have also contributed to the categorisation of ships of the same class into specific units. Generally speaking, based on Chinese accounts, the naval forces are organised into

From the 1960s onwards, for which much of the information of the naval organisation of ships is available, there has been a rise and fall in the numbers of vessels of these three fleets. Graph 1 indicates the change in the total number of the ships in each of the three fleets from about 1967 to 1987.

From 1988 onwards, there has been a clear break in the figures of the fleets. In 1988, according to the estimates of The Military Balance, 1988-89, the North Sea Fleet, for instance, had two submarine squadrons (as against one in 1967), three escort vessel squadrons (as against one in 1967), one mine warfare squadron, one amphibious squadron and 300 patrol and coastal vessels. In the same year, the East Fleet’s composition is as follows: two submarine squadrons (as against one in 1967), two escort squadrons (as against one in 1967), one minesweeper squadron (as against two in 1967), one amphibious squadron and 250 patrol and coastal vessels. For the South Sea Fleet: two submarine squadron (as against a small submarine squadron in 1967), two escort squadrons (one in 1967), one minesweeper squadron, one amphibious squadron and 320 patrol and coastal vessels.

The main combat ships of the three fleets include various models of missile destroyers, missile frigates, missile speedboats, anti-submarine vessels, minesweeping ships, and landing ships. These ships have attacking capability against targets on the coast, air and sea. Modernisation of the ships mainly, if not exclusively, is seen in automation in navigational control and operational command. In 1985 and 1995, new types of “all-closed” missile frigates and missile destroyers were put into active service respectively. 22


2. Submarine Corps (Qianting budui)

The submarine corps of the PLAN is one of the most significant combat arms of the country, indeed its “trump card” to deter the enemy. Throughout the history of the PLAN, the importance of acquiring and developing advanced submarines was stressed by the leadership. 23   Several advantages of the use of submarines in combat and non-combat activities have appealed to the leadership. As one of the cheapest ways to guard the maritime boundaries of the country, and by possessing advantages like concealed movements, cruises of relatively longer duration in turbulent environments and strong self-sufficiency, the submarine corps has become a major force of the Chinese Navy. 24   With more than 100 conventional power submarines and several nuclear submarines in reserve and on duty, the submarine corps is the second largest in the world today. 25   It has the ability to deter the enemy on land or at sea by its various long-range ballistic missiles and ambush enemy naval vessels in the ocean. Among these, the nuclear submarines are considered to be the “favored sons” of China’s national defence strength and technological level. 26

The submarine corps took shape in April 1951, when a 275-person submarine study team headed by Fu Jize was sent to study in the Lushun Submarine Detachment under the Pacific Fleet of the Soviet Navy. In May 1952, the first submarine base was established at Qingdao. In June 1954, the first submarine unit, the “Independent Submarine Corps” began to carry out various operations with two submarines purchased from the USSR. 27   In the same year, a Submarine School was established at Qingdao with the aim of training submarine command officers and professional marines. 28

The responsibilities of the submarine corps of China, according to the naval officers’ manual, are as follows:


3. Coast Guard (Haishang anfangbing)

The coastal defence responsibility of the PLAN includes warding off impending invasions of the enemy troops, protection of industrial assets along the coast, including the coastal defence artillery and the naval bases, and so on. 30   To elaborate further on the duties of the coast guard, according to the Chinese naval officers’ manual:

The PLAN’s coast guard was developed on the basis of the coastal artillery troops. In October 1950, the navy established its first coastal artillery battalion. 32   In May 1959, the first coastal missile unit was founded. 33   The coast guard is equipped with air defence, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles and gun batteries. 34   Reportedly, it consists of 35 to 40 independent- artillery and surface-to-surface missile regiments deployed in 25 coastal defence regiments. Artillery weapons include mostly semi-mobile 85, 100 and 130 mm guns and HJ- and YJ-series surface-to-surface missiles. 35   The coastal surveillance systems, including radars and other sensors, provide the necessary back up to these defences. With the expansion in the scientific and technological achievements, the coast guard has been developing into a coastal missile force with improvements in its missile attacking capability, especially in the aspect of breaking through the enemy’s coastal defence lines. 36

From the 1990s, the expansion in the international maritime trade, shipbuilding industry, and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) necessitated an integrated command and control of these activities. Several related organisations working in this field were amalgamated to form an organisation specifically for the purposes of enhanced surveillance and control of maritime aspects hithertofore looked after by different organisations. The post-1978 reforms and open door policy have created conditions where “outmoded” organisations have to give way to new organisations under “new conditions.” It was reported that the coast guard service has been transformed into a coastal offshore EEZ defence organisation. The specialised nature of services to protect the sea lanes, monitor foreign flag shipping, curb smuggling of goods and personnel, provide external security for the EEZs and joint ventures in oil drilling, and so on, needed such an integrated organisation. Hence, the personnel and equipment of the customs service, maritime police and naval coast guards were now transferred to the Combined Armed Police Force. 37


4. Naval Air Force (Haijun hangkongbing)

The Chinese naval aviation was founded in 1950, but it took off in late 1951. 38   The responsibilities of the PLAN Air Force (PLANAF) are, according to the Chinese naval officers’ manual:

The PLANAF aircraft are divided among the three different sea fleet organisations of the navy. 40   At the founding of the PLANAF, there was only one type of aircraft; now in 1998, however, the PLANAF has about 541 aircraft of different versions in six divisions of Jian 6& 7 and Q-5 vintage versions, and three divisions of H-5 on maritime attack missions, and a single regiment of H-6. 41   By the mid-1990s, the Chinese naval air force had a total of eight divisions with 27 regiments divided among the three sea fleets. 42   The principal aviation missions are base defence, maritime patrol and anti-ship operations. 43   The air bases under the North Sea Fleet include Dalian, Qingdao, Jinxi, Jiyuan, Laiyang, Jiaoxian, Xingtai, Laishan, Anyang, Changzhi,Liangxiang and Shanhaiguan. Those under the Sea Fleet include Danyang, Daishan, Shanghai, Ningbo, Luqiao and Shitangqiao. The South Sea Fleet has the following air bases: Foluo, Haikou, Lingshui, Sanya, Guiping, Jialaishi and Lingling. 44   It has been reported that that there are 13 bases in the PRC within a 250-mile radius of Taiwan with about 177 PLANAF fighters stationed in ordinary conditions. 45   These air bases under the PLAAF and PLANAF include Luqiao, Wenzhou, Fuzhou, Longtian, Huian, Shati, Xiamen, Longxi, and Chenghai along the coast, and Chongan, Liancheng, Meixian, and Xingning in the interior. The fighters deployed in this zone are mostly of the 1950s and 1960s vintage aircraft, including J-5 & 6, Q-5, and H-5 bombers. At a radius of 250 to 500 miles of Taiwan, there are more than 20 bases with nearly 1,300 different fighters. The recently acquired Su-27 interceptors with a range of 1,500 km. are reportedly stationed at Wuhu in Anhui province that can be deployed against Taiwan in case of a conflict situation. The Su-27 aircraft deployed in Hainan Island, likewise can be used for any future conflict over the South China Sea disputes.

From the late 1980s, there has been a concerted effort by the naval aviation to make preparations for a blue-water naval capability. For instance, in 1986, the PLANAF bombers started flying over the Pacific indicating the long-range ambitions of the navy. 46

Table 2. Inventory of the PLANAF
Role and Type Current Total First Delivery
Xian H-6/H-6 III [range - 4,800 km] 30
Harbin H-5 [range - 2,180 km.] 100 1967
Air Defence/Attack  
 Chengdu/Guizhou J-7 I/II/III 100 1966/1971/1992
 Shenyang J-6/JJ-6 [range - 2,200 km.] 250
Attack- Nanchang Q-5 M [range-1,188 km.] 100 1970
Anti-Submarine Helicopter  
 Eurocopter AS 565 SA Panther  
 Harbin Z-9/9A 25 1989
 Sud SA 321 Ja Super Frelon/Changhe Z-8 8/10 1977/1994
Maritime Patrol  
 Beriev Be-6 Madge [range 4,900 km.] 12
 Harbin SH-5 [range - 4,750 km.] 4 1986
 Lisunov Li-2 ‘Cab’ 20 (retd?)
 Xian Y-7 [range - 1,490 km.] 10 1984
Utility - Shijiazhuang Y-5 40
Utility Helicopter - Harbin Z-5[range 400 km] 30 (retd?) 1963
Lead-in Trainer - Shenyang J-5A 50 1964
 Air-to-air - PL-2 ‘Atoll’
 Anti-ship attack- YJ-6 (CAS-1 ‘Kraken’)
Notes: Some of the Sukhoi Su-27 interceptors acquired from the Russians in 1992 are believed to have been placed in the naval aviation. Another variant of Su-30 may be used for deployment on the seas aboard the proposed aircraft carriers. The AS-332 helicopters bought and being manufactured from the French are also for the navy. Super Frelon helicopters (Chinese designation Z-8) are also for the navy.

Source: Paul Jackson ed., and (compiled by) Lindsay Peacock, Jane’s World Air Forces: Order of Battle and Inventories (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 1996) and Richard Sharpe ed., Jane’s Fighting Ships 1995-96 (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 1995) pp. 114-42.


5. Marine Corps (Haijun luzhandui)

On May 5, 1980, the PLAN established its first amphibious (“land fighting”-haijun lu-zhandui) Brigade in its South Sea Fleet, based on Hainan Island as the “fifth arm of the navy”. 47   It included infantry, artillery, armoured force, engineer troops, chemical defence troops, signal troops, anti-tank missile troops, and amphibious reconnaissance troops. These forces were replenished with modern weapons and guiding principles. 48   The re-establishment of the marine corps, originally formed in 1953 49   but disbanded in 1957 due to strategic and political considerations, signals the PRC’s resolve to acquire force-projection capability. 50   As the “strategic arm” of the navy, the missions of this marine corps are considered to be:

However, the operations of the naval “high-sea unified manoeuvre formation” include:

The marines have been organised, according to one version, to the divisional level. 53   At the end of the 1980s, the marine corps had three divisions of about 56,500 personnel. 54   It ranked as the second largest marine corps in the world at that time. However, soon it was drastically reduced to 6,000 personnel. 55   Currently there are two brigades, each having three infantry regiments and one artillery regiment. 56   The transportation of the marine corps is by utilising the naval amphibious warships, including Type 072 Zhoushan-class landing ship tank (LST), the Type 079 Yulin-class LST and Qiongsha troopships. 57

The marine corps periodically participates in the combined-arms exercises conducted by the PLA forces that were intensified from the 1980s. It was reported that the General Staff Department published a manual, Denglu Zhanyi (Landing Operations) for the amphibious operations of the armed forces of China. It consists, among other forces, assignments to the marines, apart from the timetable showing the tide cycles. 58   It was reported that this corps once took part in an engineering project on Yongsu Reef of the Spratly Islands and other reefs and shelves. 59


Reform of the Structure of the Plan

Several reorganisations of the structure of the Chinese Navy have taken place in order to further the modernisation process. Broadly, the restructuring took place in terms of enhancing professionalism among the naval personnel, revamping control and command structures, enhancing the combat capabilities, training, and so on. New bodies were created while some of the structures were abolished in this process of streamlining. From 1949 till the present, demobilisation of the troops took place in nine instalments. 60   In September 1986, under the policy of “Simplified Administration Reorganisation,” 61   the naval structure was revamped to suit the needs of modern naval battles. As a part of this effort, troop reductions of the order of about one million were announced recently with some reductions from the navy. Graph 4 indicates the strength of the Chinese naval troops in comparison with the total number of armed forces of the country.

Generally speaking, the manifestation of the modernisation drive of the PLAN’s structure and fleet followed the pattern of quantitative and qualitative enhancement of ships’ capabilities, high-speed boats of enduring capability, quick deployment, coordinated activities, etc. 62   Another aspect of the reform process, and an important one, is the gradual change in the responsibilities of various aspects of the navy that we have outlined above, to suit the changing strategic perceptions of the navy. Though there is not much literature on this aspect, the need to change the functions and duties of various constituents of the navy in congruence with that of the new challenges and threat perceptions that the navy has been witnessing in the recent period, and the tensions thereof, are clearly visible of late.



*: Research Fellow, The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).  Back.

Note 1: For the organisational structure of the PLA and the intricacies involved in the processes, see Srikanth Kondapalli, China’s Military: The PLA in Transition (New Delh: Knowledge World & IDSA, 1999) chapter 1, pp. 1-40. The organisational structure of the Chinese Navy is one of the most complex aspects of the Chinese military establishment. Several departments were established in the navy to grapple with multifarious functions. See, for details on the complex nature of the organisational structure of the navy, Harvey W. Nelsen, The Chinese Military System: An Organisational Study of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 1977) pp. 169-71. Back.

Note 2: See David G. Muller Jr., China as a Maritime Power (Boulder, Color: Westview Press, 1983) p. 107 and Bruce Swanson, Eighth Voyage of the Dragon: A History of China’s Quest for Seapower (Annapolis, Maryland: US Naval Institute Press, 1982) pp. 201-02. Back.

Note 3: On the different functions, and the relative powers of the commander and the political commissar in the PLA hierarchy, see Kondapalli, n. 1, pp. 31-33. See also The Chinese Armed Forces Today: The United States Defense Intgelligence Agency Handbook of China’s Army, Navy and Air Force (London: Arms and Armour Press, 1979) pp. 129-31; Han Huaizhi ed., Dangdai Zhongguo jundui de junshi gongzuo (China Today: The Military Affairs of Chinese Army) (Beijing: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 1989) vol. 2 (hereafter, Dangdai Zhongguo jundui de junshi gongzuo) vol. 2, pp. 26-27 and Zhang Xusan ed., Haijun Da Cidian (Major Naval Forces Dictionary) (Shanghai: Cishu Publications, 1993) (hereafter Haijun Da Cidian), pp. 174-76. Back.

Note 4: See, for a brief account of the organisation of the PLAN, Fred Burlatskiy, “The Chinese Navy in Focus” Asian Defence Journal, March 1999, pp. 67-72. See p. 68. Back.

Note 5: See US Directorate of Intelligence report, “People’s Liberation Army Navy of China: A Reference Aid” LDA 87-10721 February 1987 (Washington, D.C., US Government Press, 1987) for the division of the PLAN into various departments. Most important departments are headed by deputy commanders, position the next to the commander of the PLAN. However, of all the deputy commanders, the role of the first deputy commander is important, for he officiates as the commander in his absence, and also is in charge of the overall functioning of the naval organisation—naval bases, shipyards, etc. The influence of the other deputy commanders increased or decreased as much according to the internal political situation as with the international context. For instance, the deputy commander of foreign affairs rose in influence in the 1950s and later from the 1980s to the present day, due to the increasing trend toward external (Soviet/West as the case may be) contacts. Likewise, their role in the 1960s and 1970s has been minimal. As for the deputy commander looking after the political affairs of the PLAN, the intense political debates and movements in the PRC and the navy made that post a hot-bed. See, for details, Muller, n. 2, p. 107; The Chinese Armed Forces Today, n. 3, p. 129 and Zhu Yida, ed., Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence (Chinese People’s Liberation Army Officers Handbook: Naval Forces Part) (Qingdao: Qingdao Chubanshe 1991) (hereafter, Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence), pp. 319-320. Back.

Note 6: See Kenneth W. Allen, Glenn Krumel and Jonathan Pollack, China’s Air Force Enters the 21st Century (Santa Monica: Rand Corporation Report, 1995) pp. 189n and 192. Back.

Note 7: Besides repairing warships, these enterprises were reportedly able to build over 20 types of ships, including frigates, oilers, tugboats, barges, ferries, and glass-reinforced plastic ships. None of these boats displaces 5,000 tonnes. This information is based on Wilson Lewis and Xue Litai, China’s Strategic Seapower: The Politics of Force Modernisation in the Nuclear Age (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), p. 278n. Back.

Note 8: See Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence, n. 5, p. 299 and Haijun Da Cidian, n. 3, pp. 180-81 for the services to be rendered by the surface fleet. Back.

Note 9: See for these changes, Dangdai Zhongguo jundui de junshi gongzuo, vol. 2, n. 3, pp. 65-67. Back.

Note 10: See Burlatskiy, n. 4, p. 68; Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1947-1995 (London: Conway Maritime Press, 1995), p. 60; The Chinese Armed Forces Today, n. 3, p. 131, and Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence, n. 3, p. 303. Back.

Note 11: This information is based on Lewis and Xue, n. 7, p. 294n, and The Chinese Armed Forces Today, n. 3, p. 131. Back.

Note 12: See Eastern Express, May 30, 1995, in FBIS-CHI-95-103, May 30, 1995, pp. 29-30 on the importance of the North Sea Fleet’s vessels. See also Nelsen, n. 1, p. 171. Back.

Note 13: See Tzuli Wanpao, January 27, 1996, in FBIS-CHI-96-026, February 7, 1996, pp. 93-94 for details. Back.

Note 14: Information here is based on Burlatskiy, n. 4, p. 68. Back.

Note 15: See Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence, n. 5, pp. 304-305 and Haijun Da Cidian, n. 3, p. 178. Back.

Note 16: Information on naval bases is based on Richard Sharpe ed., Jane’s Fighting Ships 1995-96 (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 1995) p. 114. China’s largest naval base is located “directly opposite Qingdao city,” along the Jiaozhou Bay. It became fully operational in 1988. See, for details, Bradley Hahn, “Third Ranking Power—and Growing,” Pacific Defence Reporter, vol. XV, no. 4, October 1988, pp. 46-49 and 52. See p. 52. Other reports indicate that the Chinese military is building three large naval bases along the eastern seaboard for providing key logistical support to the navy by 1998. See, for this information, Yuan Jing-dong, “China’s Defence Modernisation: Implications for Asia-Pacific Security”, Contemporary Southeast Asia, vol. 17, no. 1, June 1995, pp. 67-84 (p. 70). Back.

Note 17: Lushunkou has been at the centre of strategic initiatives by powers that eyed the mastery of China. It was occupied by Tsarist Russia and Japan during the late Qing dynasty and the Republican era. The Soviet Union occupied it as a part of the Yalta Agreement in 1945 at the end of World War II, driving away the Japanese. After the establishment of the PRC, Mao and Zhou Enlai led a delegation to Moscow in December 1949. One of the issues they discussed pertained to the recovery of Lushun. The Sino-Soviet “Joint Communique Concerning the Issue of Lushun Naval Base” stipulated the withdrawal of the Soviet forces and transfer of facilities to the PRC by May 31, 1955. Subsequently, as a major naval base of the PRC, Lushun base ranked first among other naval units in terms of military strength. State-of-the-art naval equipment was allocated to this base including the latest submarines, destroyers, escort vessels, minesweepers, minelayers, and chaser-killers. The naval air arm ensured a complete air defence system for the base. It has also become the “city of the Navy”. See, for details about the Lushunkou, Liu Hsiao-hua, “PLA Navy Commander Zhang Lianzhong” Kuang Chiao Ching, January 16, 1996, no. 280, pp. 44-49 translated in FBIS-CHI-96-029, February 12, 1996, pp. 26-32 (pp. 29-30). Back.

Note 18: See for details, Keesing’s Files, vol. XXXIV, August 1988, p. 36104. Back.

Note 19: This is based on Burlatskiy, n. 4, p. 68. Back.

Note 20: See Liao Wen-chung, “China’s Blue Waters Strategy in the 21st Century: From the First Islands Toward the Second Islands Chain”, Occasional Papers Series (Taipei: Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies, September 1995) p. 15. Back.

Note 21: See, for this division of the naval forces, Haijun Da Cidian, n. 3, pp. 179-80. Back.

Note 22: See Cha Chun-ming, “Chinese Navy Heads Toward Modernisation”, Ta Kung Pao, April 11, 1999 in the Internet edition of FBIS-CHI-99-0418, April 11, 1999, at Back.

Note 23: For one of the latest such statements, see Admiral Liu Huaqing’s statement in Hahn, n. 16, n. 47. Back.

Note 24: See “Nuclear Submarines—The Decisive Force in Gaining Sea Supremacy”, Naval & Merchant Ships, no. 9, September 8, 1995, pp. 8-9 and Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence, n. 5, pp. 177-79. Back.

Note 25: By the end of the 1980s, their number stood at about 117 but soon declined due to decommissioning of the older versions. See Hahn, n. 16, p. 52. Not all 100 of these boats are on active duty. Indeed, as many 54 out of 100 have been either retired or kept under reserve. Hence, currently about 46 are on active duty. See Tai Ming Cheung, “Lacking Depth”, Far Eastern Economic Weekly, February 4, 1993, p. 11. Modernisation of the submarine force from the mid-1980s resulted in the decommissioning of several of these boats. As a result, the number of diesel-powered submarines in the PLAN inventory dropped by more than half to around 37 in 1992, from early 100 in 1984. See, for details, Gary Klintworth, “China Not Yet a Military Threat”, International Herald Tribune, article reprinted in The Asian Age, May 19, 1994. Back.

Note 26: See Zhang Chi, “Proud Sons of the Sea” Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily), October 15, 1995, p. 1, in FBIS-CHI-95-234, December 6, 1995, p. 49. Back.

Note 27: See Haijun Da Cidian, n. 3, p. 183 and Dangdai Zhongguo jundui de junshi gongzuo, vol. 2, n. 3, pp. 68-69. Back.

Note 28: See for details, Liu Hsia-hua, n. 17, p. 28 and Cha Chun-ming, n. 22. Back.

Note 29: Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence, n. 5, pp. 299-300. Back.

Note 30: See The Chinese Armed Forces Today, n. 3, p. 133 and Nelsen, n. 1, p. 172. Back.

Note 31: Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence, n. 5, pp. 301-02. Back.

Note 32: For details, see Haijun Da Cidian, n. 3, p. 184 and Dangdai Zhongguo jundui de junshi gongzuo, vol. 2, n. 3, pp. 70-71. Back.

Note 33: See Cha Chun-ming, n. 22. However, Haijun Da Cidian, n. 3, p. 185 mentions the founding year as 1963. Back.

Note 34: Hahn, n. 16, p. 52. Back.

Note 35: The HY-2 (CSSC-3) and HY-3 (CSSC-310) surface-to-surface missiles are located in large numbers in about 20 semi-fixed armoured sites. See, Jane’s Fighting Ships 1999-2000, n. 16, p. 114. Back.

Note 36: Information about this aspect is based on Cha Chun-ming, n. 22. Back.

Note 37: The information about the new coast guard organisation is based on Bradley Hahn, “Navy Pursues Major Maritime Role”, Pacific Defence Reporter, vol. XVI, no. 8, February 1990, pp. 38-40. (See pp. 38-39). Back.

Note 38: Though the PLANAF was founded in 1950, its highest leading organisation was formed in April 1952. See Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence, n. 5, p. 301; Haijun Da Cidian, n. 3, pp. 185-86; Dangdai Zhongguo jundui de junshi gongzuo, vol. 2, n. 3, pp. 69-70 and Swanson, n. 2, p. 205 for details. Back.

Note 39: Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence, n. 5, p. 300. Back.

Note 40: For details on the naval aviation of China, see Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence, n. 5, pp. 300-01; Nelsen, n. 1, pp. 171-72 and The Chinese Armed Forces Today, n. 3, p. 131. Back.

Note 41: See International Institute of Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 1998-99 (London: Brassey’s 1998). Back.

Note 42: See Jane’s Fighting Ships 1999-2000, n. 16, p. 114. Back.

Note 43: See for details, Paul Jackson ed., and compiled by Lindsay Peacock, “Aviation of the People’s Navy” in Jane’s World Air Forces: Order of Battle and Inventories (Surrey: Jane’s Intelligence Group, 1996). Back.

Note 44: The latest information on the location of the air bases under the three fleets is derived from Jane’s Fighting Ships 1999-2000, n. 16, p. 114. Back.

Note 45: The information is based on Taiwanese intelligence reports as mentioned in “Mainland China to Conduct Naval-Air Exercises Along Fujian, Zhejiang Coast: Large Number of Jian-8 Fighters Deployed in Frontline Bases Facing Taiwan Strait”, Lien Ho Pao, July 23, 1995, p. 1, in FBIS-CHI-95-141, July 24, 1995, p. 103. The same report contends, however, that in the past several decades, the PRC has not deployed Jian 7&8 fighters at airfields within 250 miles radius of Taiwan to show a lack of a strained situation. Nevertheless, by adopting the principle of “few troops at the front and more troops in mobility”, the PLA can “fill to the full” the frontline airfields with principal fighters in a few days. According to the Beijing Central People’s Radio broadcast of November 30, 1995, the Haikong Xiongying Regiment under the Navy’s Flight Unit is stationed “in coastal frontline airports throughout the year”. See for details, FBIS-CHI-95-223, December 5, 1995, p. 39. Back.

Note 46: See, Chong-Pin Lin, “Stepping Out: China’s Lengthening Shadow” International Defence Review, vol. 28, February 1995, pp. 29-34 (p. 33). Back.

Note 47: Originally it was reported that these were under the ground forces, but soon were reorganised into the PLAN structure in the mid-1980s. See, for details, Deng Huaxu and Li Daoming, “A Visit to the PLA Marine Corps” People’s Daily, August 2, 1998, in FBIS-CHI-88-149, August 3, 1998, pp. 30-31. Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence, n. 5, pp. 302-03 mentions the date of the re-establishment of the marine corps as December 12, 1979. Back.

Note 48: See Nan Li, “The PLA’s Evolving Warfighting Doctrine, Strategy and Tactics, 1985-95: A Chinese Perspective”, The China Quarterly, no. 146, June 1996, p. 461n and Paul H.B. Godwin, “Chinese Defence Policy and Military Strategy in the 1990s,” in Joint Economic Committee of the United States, China’s Economic Dilemmas in the 1990s: The Problems of Reforms, Modernisation, and Interdependence (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1991) pp. 648-662 (See p. 656). Back.

Note 49: According to Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence, n. 5, p. 302, these were established on December 9, 1954. See also for details on the founding of the marine corps, Haijun Da Cidian, n. 3, p. 190. Back.

Note 50: In 1953, ground fighting regiments and divisions and an amphibious tank regiment was set up by the navy as the “elite force of the armed forces”. However, the units were later disbanded. See Cha Chunming, n. 22. See also Gene D. Tracey, “China’s New Military Doctrine” Asian Defence Journal, March 1990, pp. 22-28, pp. 22-23 and Dangdai Zhongguo jundui de junshi gongzuo, vol. 2, n. 3, p. 71. Back.

Note 51: See Gordon Jacobs, “The PLA—From Doctrine to Organisations”, Jane’s Intelligence Review, vol. 5, no. 8, August 1993, pp. 373-77. Details on p. 376. See also Georges Tan Eng Bok, “How Does the PLA Cope With ‘Regional Conflict’ and ‘Local War’?” in Richard H. Yang ed., China’s Military: The PLA in 1990/1991 (Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 1991) pp. 145-62 (p. 157) and Li Yu-ling, “Chinese Navy’s Blue-Water Operational Forces”, Kuang Chiao Ching, no. 271, April 16, 1995 in FBIS-CHI-95-142, July 25, 1995, p. 7. Back.

Note 52: See Georges Tan Eng Bok, Ibid., p. 157. Back.

Note 53: Liu Ziping, “Taiwan’s Show of Force,” Kuang Chiao Ching, no. 265, October 16, 1995 in FBIS-CHI-95-003, November 5, 1995, pp. 38-40 (p. 39) for details on the marines based on “division” level. However, according to another version of the marine organisation, the marine corps is organised by “brigade” to distinguish it from the army military units. According to this version, published in the same journal as cited above, the next level below the brigade is the battalion and there is no regiment in the organisation. According to this scheme, a brigade organisation includes infantry, artillery, armoured troops, engineers, signal troops, reconnaissance troops and chemical defence troops. See for these details, Li Yu-ling, n. 51, p. 7. Back.

Note 54: Hahn, n. 16, p. 52. Back.

Note 55: See Chong-Pin Lin, n. 46, p. 33. The confusion over the organisational structure of the marines seem to have been over with the drastic reduction in their numbers. Currently, by 1998, they number about 5,000 according to the estimates of the International Institute of Strategic Studies. Back.

Note 56: See, for this information on the marines, Jane’s Fighting Ships 1999-2000, n. 16, p. 114. Back.

Note 57: See Li Yu-ling, n. 51, p. 7. Back.

Note 58: This is based on Chong-Pin Lin, n. 46, p. 33. Back.

Note 59: See Li Yu-line, n. 51, p. 7. Back.

Note 60: On the issue of demobilisation of the troops in general and its impact on the Chinese Navy, see Kondapalli, n. 1, pp. 54-76. Back.

Note 61: See Keith Jacobs, “China’s Military Modernisation and the South China Sea” Jane’s Intelligence Review, June 1992, pp. 278-81 (p. 278). Back.

Note 62: See Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junguan shouce: Haijun fence, n. 5, p. 299. Back.