08 August 2009

People’s Liberation Army Entries in Encyclopedia of Modern China

Andrew S. Erickson, “People’s Liberation Army: Overview,” pp. 95-108; “People’s Liberation Army: Command Structure of the Armed Services,” pp. 108-110; “Military Regions,” p. 99; and “People’s Liberation Army: Military Enterprises and Industry Since 1949,” pp. 112-15; in David Pong, ed., Encyclopedia of Modern China, Vol. 3, (New York: Scribner, 2009).

The first entry covers the history of the PLA from its establishment in the mid-1940s, its changing organization, structures, and subdivisions (e.g. army, navy, and air forces) in a general overview, including an introduction to major leaders and historical roles played by the PLA. The entry covers the military command structures, organization, the military/strategic aspects of the political-military interface, training, ranks, operational practice, main weapon systems, specialist units, intelligence systems, equipment, engagement in main conflicts from the Civil War until the present, involvement with UN peacekeeping, and links to foreign military establishments.

The second entry focuses on the main lines of command (and changes therein over time), with flowcharts and accompanying explanations. The entry highlights principal structural differences/similarities with other large military command structures in the world and extrapolates the potential impact thereof on deployment of troops in conflict situations.

The third entry details military regions and sub-regions, with explanations of changes therein during the history of the PLA.

The fourth entry addresses the economic functions of the military in the civilian economy, including the establishment of non-armaments industries, state farms and services from the 1950s, and the specific issues arising from these during the reform period, as well as the transfer of PLA’s economic interests to civilian management in the 1980s-90s.