Late nineteenth century China was ruled by the imperial government of the Qing (Ch’ing) Dynasty, which had its capital at Beijing (Peking).
Late nineteenth century China was ruled by the imperial government of the Qing (Ch’ing)
The imperial government authorized a military modernization program designed by scholar and military strategist
Attempts to restore the Qing Dynasty continued until 1919. Meanwhile, competition had developed between isolationist military officers led by General
Sun Yat-sen sought democratic government in China, but he recognized that military unification must precede political modernization. Sun’s small force was defeated in 1922 by the warlords of central China. Nonetheless, Sun’s Nationalist
This period of alliance, known as the First United
Meanwhile, Japan’s encroachment into China’s northern provinces expanded in the mid-1930’s to include central China. In 1936 a new alliance, known as the
After Japan surrendered in
In 1950, acting as the Chinese People’s
During the late 1950’s political tensions between Beijing and Moscow caused cancellations of Soviet aid programs. Small clashes between Chinese and Soviet border guards began in 1962 and continued until 1969, when main force units fought at the Ussuri River. Meanwhile, China inaugurated a nuclear
Despite upheavals during the Cultural Revolution
Also during the 1990’s there was an overhaul of Chinese military tactics and weaponry. Both were modernized with two major objectives. The first was the maintenance of Communist Party control within China itself. After the events in Tiananmen Square in 1989, there were few major protests in most of China, but there were many in
However, the more important developments within the military were to face possible confrontations from outside. The controversy over the U.S. spy plane incident (the
China’s defeat in 1895 bolstered the position of
In the 1920’s
From 1934 to 1935 the Communist Party leadership under
Despite international isolation and domestic upheavals in the late 1950’s and 1960’s, Communist Party officials, military leaders, and engineers developed China’s nuclear
Chinese Civil War, 1926-1949
The PLA, which managed manufacturing, agricultural, and transportation systems during the 1970’s and 1980’s, shed its auxiliary enterprises during the 1990’s. Free market companies assumed some functions; others were eliminated completely. At the same time, through joint ventures with foreign companies, the PLA acquired advanced military technologies, especially in the aerospace sector.
In 2003, China managed to launch its first man into space, an event that heralded a major space program with undoubted military objectives. The Chinese have also managed to keep up a modernization of their air force and missile technology.
China’s imperial army was equipped chiefly with simple metal weaponry, particularly swords, shields, and spear-tipped poles. The
In the early 1900’s the
From 1911 China’s armies adopted European-style
After World War II (1939-1945), Communist forces seized Japanese weapons and supplies, including winter uniforms of leather boots, lined caps, and quilted jackets. During the Civil War, Nationalist troops also lost large stockpiles of U.S. military equipment, including heavy artillery, machine guns, and explosives, to the Communists, who later used it against U.S. troops in Korea. At the same time Chinese troops were sent to Korea with inadequate clothing, including lightweight summer uniforms, shoes made of rubber and canvas, and few hats or gloves.
The PLA in the early 1950’s had few trucks, aircraft, or ships and lacked modern logistical systems. The Soviet Union provided some vehicles and ships and supervised development of specialized systems such as quartermaster, field communications, and antiaircraft batteries. Soviet advisers also oversaw the introduction of rank insignia on PLA uniforms, a step that Chinese leaders had opposed as elitist.
After Soviet aid was withdrawn in 1959 and 1960, Chinese research and development efforts accelerated. The PLA Navy produced antiship missiles, underwater ordnance, submarine weapons systems, and electronic countermeasures technology. A first generation of
The launching, in 2003, of the first
During the late Qing period, the imperial
After China’s defeat by Japan in 1895, officer training
The internal characteristics of the Communist People’s Liberation
During the 1930’s the
Mao Zedong in the 1930’s, speaking before the Kangdah Cave University, calls for resistance against the Japanese.
By 1944 Communist troops numbered 500,000 soldiers and 2.1 million militia, distributed among ten base areas in northern and central China. During the Civil
In the 1980’s and 1990’s these and other units trained in high-technology fields, including air defense, submarine warfare, and intelligence were enlarged. The proliferation of specialist arms of the PLA demonstrated the Chinese military’s doctrinal shift from popular participation in a “people’s war” to the articulation of main force operational plans appropriate to a technically advanced battlefield environment.
During the 1990’s, the Chinese were involved in continuing to develop their missile program and their nuclear arsenal. In 1996 missiles were fired over
In the late 1800’s Qing military administrators relied upon long-standing convictions about China’s invulnerability to attack, based on both its geography and traditional assumptions about the superiority of Chinese civilization. Deployment of the Manchu bannermen followed a garrison strategy in which permanent encampments were placed near key cities and transportation routes. This strategy left troops isolated from local economic and political activity. Stagnant social climates resulted, as the bannermen’s family compounds rather than their military units became the focus of garrison activity.
Although Chinese troops had virtually no role in World War I (1914-1918), warlord officers were influenced by European battlefield experiences. With modern weapons in short supply, warlord
Meanwhile, Nationalist troops in the coastal provinces conducted “fighting withdrawal”
Mao’s doctrine of warfare posited that China’s huge population provided it with special military advantages, including a unique ability to sustain huge manpower losses. This doctrine informed the decisions of Chinese commanders in Korea, who compensated for inferior weapons with “human wave”
After Mao’s death these doctrines were replaced by a new emphasis on military modernization. In the event of external attack Chinese commanders would deploy professional troops with sophisticated equipment and use positional warfare tactics, rather than rely on guerrilla tactics and mass resistance by the Chinese people.
Mao’s development of a rural-based, politico-military strategy was the most significant and influential strategic doctrine originating in twentieth century China. Its first detailed explication appeared in 1927 in “Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan,” in which
During the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Foreign Languages Press in Beijing published reminiscences of many generals, officers, and ordinary soldiers, but these rarely contained much more than anecdotes about famous incidents or battles. More detailed biographical and autobiographical works have been published in Chinese, although few have been translated into English, and of these generally only extracts have been published.
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China: The Qing Empire
The Cold War: The United States, NATO, and the Right
The Cold War: The Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact, and the Left
The Cold War: The Nonaligned States
Colonial Wars of Independence
Warfare in Vietnam
Warfare in Afghanistan: The Soviet-Afghan Conflict