Today (1 August) is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army of China; and the Chinese Defence Minister, Marshal Yeh Chien-ying, marked the occasion with a call for the urgent modernisation of the country's armed forces.
Today (1 August) is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army of China; and the Chinese Defence Minister, Marshal Yeh Chien-ying, marked the occasion with a call for the urgent modernisation of the country's armed forces. Marshal Yeh said China's 850-million people must keep war in mind, and be ready for a big war breaking out "at an early date".
SYNOPSIS: The People's Liberation Army is estimated to be some three million strong, though official figures are not published. Men between 18 and 40 are liable for conscription, though not all are called up.
The Army has plenty of man-power. As Marshal Yeh has said, its urgent need is modern weapons.
In addition to the regular forces, there are 10 to 12 million reservists, who can be called from their farms and factories as required. This is the "Red Flag Militia Battalion" of Hope Province, south-west of Peking, taking part in a regular training exercise. It was formed in 1938, at a time when the Communist forces were still more than 10 years away from their final victory over the kuomintang. The main function of the militia is local defence and women take,their place alongside the men.
Young cadet training to become pilots in the Chinese air force -- which is part of the People's Liberation Army. It has nearly 4-thousand combat aircraft, some Soviet-made. China is now ordering aircraft engines and metals suitable for building its own planes from western countries, including Britain and West Germany.
One of China's chief defence pre-occupations is its on land frontier with the Soviet Union. The Ussuri river, at the eastern end was the scene of a number of minor clashes in the 1960s. Sometimes only fishing boats were involved, and the action was little more than scuffling. But on several occasions, regular forces of both countries were engaged.
The People's Libration Army traces its origin back to the rising against the Kuomintang in Nanchang on August 1st, 1927. It is this anniversary which is now being celebrated. The rising was led by Marshal Chu Teh, a revered figure in China, who died last year at the age of 90.
Marshal Yeh, the present Defence Minister, said the army must now have improved guided missiles, nuclear weapons and the mastery of the new techniques. Not a moment must be lost to strengthen the army, militia and defence industries. The Soviet Union and the United States, said Marshal Yeh, were locked in an increasingly fierce struggle for domination, which must lead to world war one day.