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China Table of Contents



Armed Forces: In 1987 combined strength of combat support units of People's Liberation Army (PLA) just under 3 million. Ground forces estimated at 2.1 million, world's largest standing army. Air Force estimated at 390,000. Navy estimated at 350,000, including those assigned to Naval Air Force, Coastal Defense Forces, and Marine Corps. Strategic Missile Force estimated at 100,000.

Combat Units and Major Equipment:In 1987 ground forces consisted of 35 main-force armies comprising 118 infantry divisions, 13 armored divisions, and 33 artillery and antiaircraft divisions; 73 regional-force divisions, about 70 main- and regional-force independent combat and combat support regiments. Major weapons systems included Type 59, Type 69, and Type 34 main battle tanks, Type 62 and Type 63 light battle tanks; various caliber howitzers and guns and antiaircraft artillery. Air Force equipment included nearly 5,200 combat aircraft. Navy equipment included 5 nuclear-powered submarines (3 attack and 2 ballistic missile launching), 110 diesel attack submarines, 46 major surface combatants (destroyers and frigates), 877 fast-attack craft (armed with guns, missiles, or torpedoes), nearly 900 other combatant and support ships and boats, and 780 Naval Air Force combat aircraft. Strategic Missile Force included 50 medium-range ballistic missiles (range of 650 nautical miles), 60 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (range of 1,620 nautical miles), 4 limited-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (range of 3,780 nautical miles), and 2 full-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (range of 8,100 nautical miles).

Military Budget:Officially announced for 1987 at -Y20.4 billion (for value of the yuan--see Glossary). Western analysts believe defense spending roughly double announced budget, or about 4 percent of GNP.

Police Agencies and Paramilitary Forces: Police organized under Ministry of Public Security. People's Armed Police Force, primarily demobilized PLA troops estimated at 600,000. Supported by grass-roots party, government, and neighborhood organizations. Armed militia estimated at 4.3 million, ordinary, unarmed militia estimated at 6 million.

Data as of July 1987