People's Liberation Army
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is the regular armed forces of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the armed wing of the PRC's founding and ruling political party, the Communist Party of China (CPC). Besides the Central Military Commission (CMC) and several minor units directly under it, the PLA has five major service branches: the Ground Force (PLAGF), Navy (PLAN), Air Force (PLAAF), Rocket Force (PLARF), and the Strategic Support Force (PLASSF). A 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 constitutes the second largest defense budget in the world. 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. Per Business Insider in 2018, the PLA is the world's second-most powerful military.
|Chinese People's Liberation Army|
|Literal meaning||"China People Liberation Army"|
PRC law explicitly affirms the leadership of the party 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 as the ceremonial Ministry of National Defense (MoD) for diplomatic functions. The PLA is obliged to follow the principle of the Communist Party'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) taken from a speech given by Mao Zedong during an emergency meeting of top party leadership on the 7th of August 1927 at the beginning of the Chinese civil war. In this sense, the PLA is not a national army of the type of traditional Western nation states, but a political army or the armed branch of the CPC itself since its allegiance is to the party only and not the state or any constitution. Its commander-in-chief is the Chairman of the Central Military Commission (customarily also the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China). Since 1949, China has used nine different military strategies, which the PLA 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 PLAGF.
Politically, the PLA is represented in the National People's Congress with 294 deputies, all of whom are CPC members.