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People's Republic of China
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is the armed forces of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Communist Party of China (CPC). The PLA consists of five professional service branches: the Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, and the Strategic Support Force.
The PLA is the world's largest military force, with a strength of approximately 2,285,000 personnel, 0.18% of the country's population. It is the fastest modernising military power in the world, with significant defense and increasing power projection capabilities. Recently, it has been rapidly developing and commissioning new arsenals, with numerous technological advancements and breakthroughs. It boasts the second largest defence budget in the world, although many authorities – including SIPRI and the U.S. Department of Defense – argue that China does not report its real level of military spending, which is allegedly much higher than the official budget.
In September 2015, Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and the commander-in-chief of the PLA, announced a reduction of the number of military personnel by 300,000: from 2.3 to 2 million. The PLA's insignia consists of a roundel with a red star bearing the Chinese characters for Eight One, referring to the Nanchang uprising which began on August 1, 1927.
The PLA is under the command of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the CPC. It is legally obliged to follow the principle of civilian control of the military, although in practical terms this principle has been implemented in such a way as to ensure the PLA is under the absolute control of the Communist Party of China. Its commander in chief is the Chairman of the Central Military Commission (usually the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China). The Ministry of National Defense, which operates under the State Council, does not exercise any authority over the PLA and is far less powerful than the CMC. A system of political officers embedded within the military ensures party authority over the armed forces so that the primary role of the Ministry of Defense is that of a liaison office with foreign militaries rather than a commanding authority. The political and military leadership have made a concerted effort to create a professional military force, the duties of which are restricted to national defence and to the provision of assistance in domestic economic construction and emergency relief. This conception of the role of the PLA requires the promotion of specialised officers who can understand modern weaponry and handle combined arms operations. Units around the country are assigned to one of five Theater commands by geographical location.
Military service is compulsory by law; however, compulsory military service in China has never been enforced due to large numbers of military and paramilitary personnel. In times of national emergency, the People's Armed Police and the People's Liberation Army militia act as a reserve and support element for the PLAGF.
The PLA on 1 August 2017 marked the 90th year anniversary since its establishment, before the big anniversary it mounted its biggest parade yet and the first outside of Beijing, held in the Zhurihe Training Base in the Northern Theater Command (within the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region), the first time it had ever been done to mark PLA Day as past parades had already been on 1 October, National Day of the PRC.