People's Liberation Army

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The People's Liberation Army (PLA) (中国人民解放军) is the military arm of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the major armed forces of the People's Republic of China, consisting of ground, sea, air and strategic missile forces. The PLA is under the command of the Central Military Commission of the CPC.


The Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army

The PLA grew out of the Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army. In cooperation with the Kuomintang, from 1924 to 1927 the Communist Party of China launched a punitive expedition against the Northern warlords ruling China at that time. But, the expedition failed as a result of the betrayal of the revolution by the right wing of the Kuomintang in 1927, when the Chinese Communist Party was still at an infantile stage, being subject to Chen Duxiu's Right capitulationist line in the Party leadership. The bitter lesson of this experience awakened the Chinese Communists to the necessity for an armed revolution and the importance of a people's revolutionary army.

On August 1, 1927, Zhou Enlai, He Long, Ye Ting, Zhu De and Liu Bocheng organized some 20,000 men of the Northern Expeditionary Army under the influence of the Communist Party into an uprising at Nanchang, Jiangxi Province. On September 9, peasants, workers and revolutionary soldiers launched the Autumn Harvest Uprisings under Mao Zedong's leadership in the border regions between Hunan and Jiangxi provinces. On December 11, Zhang Tailei, Ye Ting, Ye Jianying and others led an armed uprising participated by workers and soldiers in Guangzhou. Out of these uprisings and some two hundred others led by the Communist Party across the whole country in late 1927 came the Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army. The Autumn Uprisings army, led by Mao Zedong, was reorganized on its way to the Jinggang Mountains, in the village of Sanwan, Yongxin County, Jiangxi Province, on September 29, 1927. There its name was changed to the First Regiment of the First Division of the First Army of the Workers' and Peasants' Revolutionary Army. Party organizations were established at all levels in the army and representatives of the Communist Party sent among the soldiers, thus establishing the absolute leadership of the Party over the army. A system of democratic administration was set up and equality between officers and men achieved. The new people's army thus had a political, ideological and organizational foundation and the leadership of the proletariat.

In April 1928, Zhu De and Chen Yi led their men of the Nanchang Uprising and a section of peasant armed forces from southern Hunan to the Jinggang Mountains, where they joined forces with those under the command of Mao Zedong. Together, these forces formed the Fourth Red Army and were later reorganized as the First Red Army Group. In August 1930, this combined force merged with the Third Red Army Group to become the First Front Red Army or the Central Red Army as it was then commonly known. Zhu De was the Commander-in-Chief and Mao Zedong the General Political Commissar of the army group. In November 1931, the troops active in the Hubei-Henan-Anhui Base Area were reorganized as the Fourth Front Red Army with Xu Xiangqian as Commander-in-Chief and Chen Changhao as Political Commissar. In October 1934, the troops in the Hunan-Western Hubei Base Area and the Hunan-Jiangxi Base Area formed the Second Front Red Army. He Long then was the Commander-in-Chief and Ren Bishi the Political Commissar. In January 1935, headed by Liu Zhidan the Northwest China Revolutionary Military Committee was set up by his troops in the base area of Gansu and northern Shaanxi.

By 1933, the number of soldiers in the Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army had risen to 300,000. Several base areas centering on the Central Base Area in Jiangxi Province were established, with a total population of over 10 million. The Kuomintang troops attempted successive "encirclement and suppression" campaigns which were foiled by the Red Army until October 1934, when it was forced to leave the Central Base Area to embark on a strategic shift and begin the world-famous Long March after failing to beat back the fifth onslaught of the Kuomintang as a result of Wang Ming's "Leftist" adventurism in the Party leadership. In view of this perilous situation, the Chinese Communist Party called an enlarged meeting of its Political Bureau at Zunyi, Guizhou Province, in January 1935, which established the leading position of Mao Zedong in the Party and the Red Army. After the Zunyi meeting, under the leadership of Mao Zedong, the Red Army defeated the encirclement, pursuit and interception by several hundred thousand enemy troops in bitter battles. Surmounting incredible difficulties and suffering enormous casualties, the First, Second and Fourth Front Red Armies finally arrived in northern Shaanxi in October 1935 and October 1936 where they had fought to expand and consolidate the Northern Shaanxi Base Area.

The Eighth RouteArmy and the New Fourth Army

On July 7, 1937, the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression broke out. The Chinese Communist Party again cooperated and formed a united front with the Kuomintang to fight against Japanese imperialism. The Red Army was reorganized respectively into the Eighth Route Army (commanding three divisions, with Zhu De as Commander-in-Chief and Peng Dehuai as Deputy Commander-in-Chief) and the New Fourth Army (consisting of four regiments, with Ye Ting as its Commander). After that, the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army threw themselves into battle. Adhering to independent guerrilla warfare tactics, they set up many anti-Japanese base areas with a population of over 100 million, engaging over 60 percent of the total Japanese force in China and 95 percent of the puppet troops. The fighting forces in these base areas grew to some 1.2 million men. They, over a period of eight years, played a decisive role in the final victory by wiping out some 1.71 million Japanese aggressors and puppet soldiers.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army

After the victory over Japan in 1945, Chiang Kai-shek, backed by the United States, tore to scraps its peace agreements with the Communist Party, and launched an all-out offensive against the Liberated Areas, held by the Communist Party at the end of June and early July of 1946, starting a full-scale national civil war. The residents and armed forces of the Liberated Areas had no alternative but to wage a national liberation war following the policy of "tit for tat and fighting for every inch of land" put forward by Mao Zedong and the Party Central Committee. With the change in their strategic task, the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army were renamed the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Following more than three years of bitter struggle, the PLA liberated the whole country except for Taiwan Province and several other smaller islands.