The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is the defence service force of China. PLA was formed in 1972 and it comprises ground forces, naval forces, artillery, armed police and air force. Chinese law mandates mandatory military service for its citizens and the bulk of the force is made of personnel in the age bracket of 18-49 years. Due to the huge number of volunteers the PLA gets each year, it has never had to enforce conscription.
Despite being the largest Army, it is not the most modern force in the world considering the budget it allocates for defence. In 2017, Chinese defence budget allocation was $152 billion. Here is Global Fire Power data on China’s military prowess:
China’s Air power:
China’s Air Force (PLAAF) was formed in 1949. It has around 4,00,000 personnel in service and is the largest air force in Asia. The PLAAF is in the process of phasing out old aircraft and has commissioned a huge number of fighter jets, air superiority fighter, multi-role aircraft etc. It is in the process of shifting its majority strike fleet to 4.5th and fifth generation aircraft. The aircraft in its fleet include Sukhois 30MKK, 35US, 27, Shenyang and Chengdu fighters, stealth aircraft, Xian bombers among others.
China’s naval power:
Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is the armed wing of Communist Party of China and by extension the national armed forces of People’s Republic of China. The PLAN was a riverine or brown-water navy till the 1980s. However, in the 1990s, its policy was changed into a more foreign-oriented forward postured force. After they were freed from land disputes, the PLAN was turned into a green-water navy in 2009. Till that time, it had played a subordinate role to the PLA ground forces.
Chinese Ground Force:
The PLA Ground Force is the largest standing army in the world. The mandatory military service law ensures that there is never a dearth of personnel in the PLA Ground Force. The force was formed in 1948, but it had participated in several wars by that time. It was a part of the Chinese Civil War, World War II and Korean War.
China’s nuclear stockpile: According to Arms Control Association, China has a nuclear stockpile of 270 weapons. There is no authoritative data available on the number of deployed nuclear weapons. Although, the Chinese Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles allow it to strike targets as far as 15,000 km. Also, the Chinese Missile Shield guards it from any incoming missile threats by intercepting them before they reach Chinese territory. China has at least 90 ICBMs out of which are 66 land-based 24 are submarine-based JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).