Military Academies in China

Srikanth Kondapalli, Research Officer, IDSA


Pedagogical considerations of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) are many sided and rich in discourse in the People's Republic of China (PRC). One of the prerequisites for modernising the PLA is setting up of military academies that would usher in a sound educational system and training for the ranks of the PLA. The system of military academies in China underwent many changes in terms of the curriculum taught in these institutes, composition of the constituents of these institutes, and so on.

The need to prepare for the future wars and the assessment of the PLA after the Gulf War in 1991 led to a renewed emphasis on the nature of training being imparted in these academies. From 1993, coinciding with the initiation of the "strategic military policy" by the Central Military Commission (CMC), these academies instituted programmes of educational reform so as to transform the PLA into a force capable of winning future localised warfare under high-tech conditions. Further, the developments in science and technology worldwide, including information technology and, interestingly in the words of the CMC Vice-Chairman and Political Bureau member, Zhang Wannian, "competition on comprehensive national strength,"1 and so on, have highlighted the importance of these military academies. These measures were to go hand in hand with the structural reforms of the military academies initiated in 1998, whereby the existing military academies were to be reduced by about 30 per cent in the "command" category but those among technical category would be "readjusted" and "consolidated."2

Though several military academies had been established in China for a long time, the intensity of these patterns pertain perhaps to the modern times. Mention should be made of the Qing dynasty's efforts to inculcate the modern methods of teaching combat practices as a response to the Western powers' subjugation of China.

The Whampoa Military Academy ranks perhaps as the most important military academy instituted at the beginning of the 20th century that catered to the needs of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Kuomintang officers. The first Red Army military academy was established in December 1927 in the Jinggangshan area.3 In 1931, Mao Zedong established the Central Military Political Academy in Ningdu which later became the Chinese Workers and Peasants Military Academy. In 1933, this further developed into a full fledged university with two departments of infantry academy and one special sciences academy which in the anti-Japanese period became the Chinese People's Anti-Japanese Military and Political University (Kangda). The Kangda had twelve departments including those dealing with artillery, communications, supplies, health, and other professional courses. During the Civil War period, the PLA established seven universities of military and political affairs with 22 departments specialising on aeronautics, artillery, communications, engineering, supplies, medicine, and so on. By the time the PRC was established, there were about 29 military institutes and colleges.4

After the establishment of the PRC in 1949, the immediate task of the leadership was to reorganise the inherited military academic system. Zhou Enlai, speaking at the July 1950 CMC meeting underlined the importance of the military academies in modernising the PLA.5 The experiences of China's participation in the Korean War led to a reassessment on the part of the leadership of the PLA. The then Minister for National Defence Peng Dehuai, and Marshal Nie Rongzhen envisaged the establishment of various military academies to suit the new requirements of the PLA. In the beginning, the PRC established seven aviation schools and one naval academy and later an anti-aircraft school, a cartographers school and an army medical school. The government also took the decision of making all the military areas run infantry schools or senior infantry academies to train junior and middle-rank PLA personnel.6 In the subsequent years a number of important high-level institutions were established at Harbin, Nanjing, Zhangjiakou, Xian and so on. In the early years of the establishment of the PRC, Mao Zedong envisaged the need to build up these institutions in China. Addressing the first batch of graduates of the Military Academy on July 10, 1952, he observed:

The kind of situation that in the past placed emphasis exclusively on political work and neglected staff work must be resolutely changed around (it is correct to emphasize political work, and there should still continue to be this emphasis from now on). In the past, some weaker people, people who lacked organizational ability, or even people who had committed some mistakes and did not have a high level of activism, were chosen to work in the commanding organs, and this caused some commanding officers to be reluctant to serve as staff officers or chiefs of staff. This situation must be radically turned around. From now on we must select quality commanders who are rich in organizational and commanding abilities to serve in the commanding organs at all levels, and thus create a new work-style and a new atmosphere in the commanding organs.7

The Harbin Institute of Military Engineering was perhaps one of the most important institutes established in this period for the purpose of imparting training in the field of high-level defence engineering technology.8 Established formally on September 1, 1953, this institute evolved from the Military Engineering Institute in Harbin of March 1952 for training the technical personnel of the PLA. The first President of the institute was Chen Geng. It imparted training in five engineering faculties of the air force, artillery corps, navy, armoured corps and engineering corps. In the early years, nearly 80 Soviet advisors taught at this institute as a part of the Sino-Soviet understanding.9 In 1959, the Military Engineering Institute at Harbin was reorganised to include six engineering faculties of the air force, navy, missile, nuclear energy, electronics and electronic computers to accommodate the change in the development strategy of the burgeoning defense industry. Soon, these specialties were increased to 34 by 1965. During the period 1953 to 1966, this institute enrolled more than 18,000 students, trained more than 12,000 graduates in total, in addition to about 1,000 students at advanced levels of study.10

The Nanjing Military Academy specialised in the development of mid-and high-level staff and commanding officers for the PLA.11 It was established in 1951 under the leadership of Liu Bocheng.12 By 1956, this academy developed twelve departments of various specializations.13

In July 1952, the PLA Logistics Academy was established in Beijing with Li Jukui as its president to train and specialise personnel in the logistics field.14 The Communications Engineering Institute was formed in April 1952 by a decision of the CMC by expanding the communication part in the Zhangjiakou Engineering School. In 1958, this institute was moved to Xian and renamed as the Military Telecommunications Engineering Institute.15

Another high-level engineering institute of considerable importance is the Nanjing Artillery Engineering Institute carved out of the Artillery Department of the PLA Military Engineering Institute based at Wuchang in the 1960s. Kong Congzhou became the first president of this institute while Liao Chengmei became the political commissar in 1960.16

The second tier of the military training institutes comprises the colleges and universities established for the exclusive purpose of training the PLA's technical personnel. Though the PRC inherited certain colleges, these were reorganised in 1952 by the Government Administration Council which centralised all the aviation engineering departments into the Beijing Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and East China Aeronautical Institute.17 It established the Nanjing College of Aeronautical Industry and decided to change the Beijing Industrial Institute into an insitute specifically dealing with the development of the ordnance industry. In April 1954, the "Resolution on the Construction of the Aviation Industry" was passed which envisaged expansion in the construction of the aviation universities and colleges. In pursuit of this objective, the Nanjing Aeronautical College was expanded to become the Nanjing Aeronautical Institute.

Further reorganisation took place in other fields also in 1955 when the State Council amalgamated the telecommunications and radio departments of the prestigious Jiaotong University at Shanghai, the South China Industrial Institute and the Nanjing Industrial Institute to Chengdu in Sichuan province to form the Chengdu Telecommunications Engineering Institute. Next year, the East China Aeronautical Institute was moved to Xian and merged with the Northwest Industrial Institute to become the Northwest Polytechnic University. In the later part of the 1950s, the Jiaotong University was tasked with the development of the ship building industry. In the same period, the Harbin Industrial University was developed into a university of defence industries. Likewise the Taiyuan Machine Building School was expanded into the Taiyuan Mechanical Institute.18 As for the training of the technical personnel for the ordnance industry, the Ministries of Education and Heavy Industry in July 1959 transferred an ordnance school subordinate to the Northeast Ordnance Bureau to the Northeast Ordnance Training School which had three faculties of arms, ammunition and powder. In March 1962, the Beijing Institute of Technology was transformed into one of defence technology with ordnance as its main orientation, and the Northeast Ordnance Training School was merged into this institute. Unlike other institutes, this Beijing Institute of Technology was subordinated to the Second Ministry of Machine Building Industry.19

These measures coincided with the opening of specific faculties in the universities and colleges. Mention should be made of the pioneering research undertaken at Beijing University, Qinghua University at Beijing, Fudan University at Shanghai, Lanzhou University, etc., in the fields of nuclear physics, radiation chemistry, mathematics and mechanics, electronic technology, optics, instrumentation and so on. These efforts led to the creation of a scientific base and contributed to the defence needs of the country. From 1949 to 1959 it was estimated that all the military academies in the PRC had trained nearly 269,000 cadres in various disciplines.20 In the period 1961 to 1965, most of these colleges and universities were placed under the leadership of the Commission of Science and Technology for National Defence of the State Council of the PRC.21 In this period, there were about 11 universities. By the end of 1966, the PLA has founded more than 160 institutes of higher learning, including a military academy, political academy and logistics academy.22 In the entire period of 40 years since the establishment of the PRC, there were about 29 colleges and universities exclusively for the training of PLA personnel in specific technical areas, 10 among which are "key" national colleges and universities of higher education.23 The number of the students of the colleges and universities of defence technology at the end of 1989 reached 100,000 out of whom 70,000 were undergraduates and more than 8,000 post-graduates.24 Generally speaking, the number of military institutes of all categories increased between 1977 and 1985 to about 130. Table 1 outlines the growth in the number of the military academies and schools in China.

Table 1. PLA Academies and Schools

Year Number of Millions of PLA personnel

military academies students divided by

and schools academies (10,000)

1956 232 2.35 1.01

1960 137 3.00 2.20

1969 43 5.05 11.72

1977 116 5.10 4.40

1986 103 3.00 2.90

Source: June Teufel Dreyer, "The New Officer Corps: Implications for the Future." The China Quartely, no. 146, June 1996, pp. 315-35. See p. 321.

At present, the educational system of the PRC is broadly divided into two main types and four levels based on the intake of these academies. The two main types include the "command" schools and the engineering and technical institutes. The "command" type of schools are divided into high, medium, and entry levels and the technical schools into mid-and high-level schools.25 Currently the most important military academies that train high-level commanders include the National Defence University (NDU) at Beijing. The University of Science and Technology at Changsha, the Army Staff Officer Institute at Shijiazhaung, and the tri-services institutes, viz., the Air Force Academy at Beijing, the Naval Academy at Nanjing and the Armoured Infantry Academy at Changxindian cater to the needs of the PLA's specialised academic activities.26 Those entering these "senior command academies" are already division or army-level cadres, while a few are also recruited from the regimental command level. Normally, graduates are promoted one level, most after two years of study and a few after only one.

The secondólevel institutes, called the "middle command academies," serve mid-level commanders, including engineers, military doctors and logisticians. These are recruited from cadres at the company, battalion or deputy regiment level. They are promoted one rank after a one or two year course of studies.

The third level of the military institutes, called the "junior command academies", train low-level commanders, while the fourth level is for non-commissioned officers (NCOs). The "junior command academies" will recruit students from among local senior middle school graduates and they will focus on providing a basic military, political and cultural education.27 The 76 administrative and technical posts such as company quartermaster, radio station director and various technical jobs formerly filled by the army officers are assigned to the NCOs.28 The army academies and technical institutes serving various military branches in the seven Military Regions (MRs) do the training of the entry-level commanders. Chart 1 depicts the organisational structure of the military academies.

Chart 1. Organisational Structure of Military Academies


Central Military Commission


National Defence University General Departments Armed Services, COSTIND,MRs


Institutes directly Specialized Command

under the departments Technical Institutes


Source: See Sun Zhen ed., The PLA Forces (Hong Kong: Conmilit Press, 1986) p. 145.

To elaborate further on the nature of the military academies, the National University of Defence Science and Technology at Changsha comes under the jurisdiction of the COSTIND. It grew out of the Military Engineering Academy of the PLA, which was established in September 1959. Its main task is to:

...train technical personnel with high quality and academic level in scientific research, design, production, test and operation of highly sophisticated weapons and equipment, and, in the meantime, to train in rotation the technical personnel and commanders from the test and operation units of strategic weapons at various levels and at-post technical cadres.29

It has nine main departments encompassing applied mechanics, applied physics, automatic control, electronic technology, materials and fuels, electronic computer, systems engineering and mathematics, precision machinery and foreign languages for teaching and translating material in science and technology. It has 24 specialties, 42 teaching and research sections, 50 research sections and laboratories, a modern computation centre and an audio-visual educational centre. After the State Council granted the right to confer academic degrees to this university, it established a post-graduate institute in 1984 and has produced so far more than 19,000 post-graduates, graduates and holders of other degrees.30

Recent Changes

The intensification of the modernisation drive of the PLA from the time of the Deng Xiaoping's regime involved streamlining and reorganising the PLA structure, the restructuring of command and control mechanisms of the PLA, restoration of the rank system, emphasis on the professional education and upgrading the technological capabilities of the personnel, and so on. In this era, special emphasis was laid on the restructuring of the military academies and schools that were bequeathed from the past. This process included reducing the number of the military schools and academies, in certain sectors, and giving impetus to other categories, revamping the curriculum of these academies and so on. In the mid-1980s, when this drive was intensified, Han Huaizhi was appointed the director of the "Military Academy Systems Reform Task Force" established on November 14, 1984. The CMC on January 30, 1985, established the National Defence Academy for Scientific and Technical Research in Changsha to train national defence scientists and technicians at doctoral and masters levels. It first recruited 371 masters level research students. In the same month, the State Council's "Degrees Committee" gave permission for the military academies to confer doctoral and masters degrees. It also approved the establishment of nine special troop training courses at levels below those of the military academies. These nine courses include: ideological and tactical studies, campaign studies, war mobilisation studies, military system studies, troop command studies, troop political work studies and military logistics studies. Further, in September 1985, the military academies resumed the "military studies research groups" and recruited 22 researchers into the three fields of military ideology, campaign studies, and history of warfare, with a duration of two years schooling. The political colleges also established "classes for research students" and recruited 26 research students for the three specialised subjects of Marxist Philosophy, Marxist Political Economy and History of the Chinese Communist Party with a course of two years duration. These efforts culminated in the establishment of the National Defence University on November 30, 1985.

In 1986, the CMC, according to the recommendations of this task force, passed a resolution on reforming the education in the military academies, broadly encompassing the improvements to be made in the system, direction of teaching and training systems at lower, middle and upper levels, and improving middle and upper level vocational and technical schools and faulty structures.31 The guiding principle has been "to run a fixed number of high level schools and colleges and train a large corps of commanders, managers and specialists."32 The six measures of the resolution of the CMC for streamlining the military academies are as follows:

1. Make adjustments to training levels of commanding officers. Elementary command schools should emphasise basic military, political and cultural education and stress the training of platoon commanders; the training of regimental commanders; high level commanding officer training schools should carry out high level integrated education and emphasise the training of senior-level commanding officers.

2. Perfect specialised and technical officer training systems, placing stress on strengthening the training of talented people from polytechnics and universities.

3. Run a number of integrated schools on an experimental basis. Carry out military, political, and logistics commanding officers training command, management and technical officer training, and strengthen the ability of officers to adapt to difficult posts.

4. Steadily develop the education of research students. Concentrate on training high level teachers, scientific researchers and specialised technical staff.

5. Gradually perfect military education systems.

6. Set up non-commissioned officer training systems in a planned fashion.33

It was stipulated by the CMC that new-style schools and recruiting students would commence from September 1, 1986. These new-style schools include the army officer training schools, military educational academies, military economy academies, information and engineering colleges. The army commanding officer training academies, apart from training troop-commanding, military and political commanding officers, are also responsible for training reserve duty officers. In the forces as a whole, the first military educational academy is responsible for training instructors for all types of military education in the forces, contracting tactical instructors, and teaching administrative officers. It will also bear responsibility fo the task of scientific research into military training. In the forces as a whole the first military and economic academy will recruit and train graduates of upper middle schools and high quality rank and file soldiers in accounting, auditing, communications and other skills needed by economic managers. The PLA has also established classes for rank and file soldiers and will recruit high quality soldiers for training as specialized officers with polytechnic-level education. In 1986 almost 10,000 recruits were to be enrolled.34

Besides establishing these new-style academies, the CMC, as a part of the streamlining exercise of the military academies, also unveiled a plan to demobilise and reorganise these institutions. It was stipulated that the total number of army training schools will be cut back by 12 per cent, while the staff will be reduced by over 20 per cent. Following the cutbacks in commanding officer training academies throughout the armed forces, training systems will be put into effect for basic commanding officer training at polytechnic, university and professional college and regular undergraduate levels. Middle level commanding officer training academies will largely train commanding officers. The highest level training institution will be the NDU. Specialised and technical academies will be adjusted to a total of several dozen. Some of these will be newly established or altered new-style academies. Specialised and technical academies will implement middle and high level training systems for specialised and technical officers and will be divided into the five levels of polytechnic, university professional, university undergraduate, master level research students and doctoral level research students. Every year, henceforth, a fixed proportion of technical officers will be trained.35

There was an effort in the early 1990s to reduce the complicated organisational issues of the military academies like a top-heavy hierarchy and so on. These reforms, initiated by Yang Baibing the then secretary of the CMC, maintained the status of the NDU as a primary Military Region, while the status of all academies serving individual branches of the military were lowered from the army group level to the army level. It was reported that mid-level institutions were lowered from the army level to the deputy army level. Institutions serving entry-level officers were lowered from the army level to the division level, or from the division level to the deputy division level. The status of the non-commissioned officers was lowered from the auxiliary division level to the auxiliary regimental level.36 However, these reforms in the organisational structure of the military academies proved to be short lived and were reportedly disbanded by Jiang Zemin. In this period, most of the reforms of the military academies were largely a failure as most of the military academies which were sought to be consolidated or eliminated were resurrected soon, though by 1996, over 60 per cent of the military officers had obtained a college degree or higher, as had over 90 percent of officers above regimental level.

Another phase of the reform of the military academies was reported in the aftermath of the death of Deng Xiaoping and the 15th Party Congress in 1997. Critical of the overlap in military and local use of facilities, functional redundancy and slow progress in professionalism of the personnel, the CMC leadership sought to introduce further reforms into the military academies. The plan included downsizing the military academies by about 30 percent in order to develop high-quality military personnel. Emphasis in this phase was on reducing the entry-level command schools, while enhancing the middle and upper level command schools, and, on the other hand, consolidating the engineering and technical institutions.37

The instructors of these military institutes form a crucial link with the PLA leadership and its perspective and the student recruits. The PRC has tried to recruit the best brains into this slot. It has appointed well known persons of intellectual capability to the higher positions of these academies. Mention should be made of the presidents and political commissars of the NDU and other academies. In the earlier period after the establishment of the PRC, as it was short of professional instructors, the PRC invited Soviet experts to impart training in various fields under the Sino-Soviet agreement. Thus, nearly 240 Soviet instructors trained Chinese PLA technical personnel between 1953 and 1958, by which time differences had started cropping up between the two nations on various issues.38 In the early 1960s, these Soviet instructors withdrew from China making the task of imparting education to the PLA a problem in the initial period. Efforts were made henceforth to recruit and train more Chinese instructors for these academies and institutes. After the launching of the four modernisations programme in the late 1970s, efforts were made by the new PRC leadership once again to either recruit foreign experts or send Chinese instructors abroad for training. Thus, by 1989, more than 1,100 teachers were sent to study as post-graduates and about 1,800 teachers were sent to further study and work as visiting scholars abroad. It was reported that about one-half of those who went abroad returned to China.39

Many of the instructors are drawn from the combat units, mostly middle school graduates. As the retirement age in the PLA began to be implemented and there has been a general rise in the education levels of the PLA, there has also been an increasing trend towards recruiting well-qualified people for these posts. However, as the salaries of the instructors have been comparatively low and coupled with an increase in their technical knowledge, it has led in some instances to a change in the professions. Many of these instructors have been wooed into the foreign-invested enterprises.

The instructors in the military academies were ordered by the CMC to strictly follow the progress of their wards. The "Temporary Stipulations on the System of Screening Cadets (xueyuan shaixuanzhi) of the PLA Academies and Schools" of June 1985 specified that

The leaders of academies and schools are responsible for the united organization of the examination of (the cadets') study and overall assessment. The work is to be divided among the cadre or cadet management departments, educational administrative departments, and medical departments as well as teaching and research sections, faculties, and cadet teams. They are responsible for actual implementation. ...A strict record system should be set up to record faithfully the cadets' study results, behavior, and results of appraisal. These are to be pooled together and evaluated by the cadre or cadet management departments and faculties and cadet teams.40

By the end of the 1980s, there were about 20,000 in the teachers' team with a rational age structure. Among these were about 4,700 professors and associate professors and about 210 instructors for training doctoral students.41

In the development of the instructors and the manner in which they functioned, one can see a sea change in the history of the PRC. In the early years of the PRC, the education system of the PLA was guided largely by the August 1961 COSTND's "Sixty-point Decision for Higher Education" and the "Fourteen rules on Science and Technology Work."42 The guiding principle of these regulations for training technical cadres are "taking teaching as the focus of the work" and prescribed a "normal teaching order". These measures were a follow-up to the developments after the Great Leap Forward. In September 1962, the Central Committee of the CCP elaborated further on these rules. It stated:

...the training of technical personnel has a significant influence on the development of defense science, technology and production. The basic task of the colleges and universities of defense technology is to train technical cadres of good quality politically, technically and physically.43

Since the Fourteen Rules have been one of the major documents to have evolved on the questions of research in science and technology and the training of the personnel, partly of the PLA, and also because it soon became controversial in the subsequent period, it needs to be further elaborated upon. The document issued by the Central Committee on July 19, 1961, contained the following points:

1. The fundamental task of research organisations was to produce research results and train researc personnel. [Later this was modified as "to produce results and competent personnel"].

2. Basic stability in research work was necessary. [Here five aspects of research work were singled out, namely: orientation, tasks, staff, equipment and working systems of research organisations].

3. The principle of integrating theory with practice must be applied correctly. [This Article was for emphasising equally on all research, including basic research].

4. While making plans and supervising their implementation, we must be realistic and take into consideration the special characteristics of scientific work. [Here allowance of certain freedom of action for the scientific personnel was sought]

5. We must dare to think, dare to speak and dare to act, and do the work seriously according to strict and stringent demands [the so-called "3-D & 3-S spirit, emphasising emancipation of mind, civilised production, etc.]

6. Scientific research must be guaranteed enough time [to ensure five-fifths of the time of the scientists to research work and insulating them from the political movements]

7. Training of cadres should be instrumentalised. [Here work performance, periodic appraisals, examinations were stressed]

8. There must be more cooperation and exchanges [between colleges and universities engaged in research]

9. It is necessary to develop science through thrift and hard work.

10. Natural sciences do not have a class character.

11. It is necessary to unite with, educate and remould intellectuals.[Here the slogan "red & expert" was stressed]

12. Ideological and political work should be strengthened.

13. Investigations and study must be promoted.

14. The leadership system must be improved. [Here the role of the Party was stressed].44

Now, some of the provisions in these Articles proved to be controversial and were to take a heavy toll, even while giving a direction to the research community and its work. Specifically, mention should be made of the importance of the provisions on the leadership of the Party, class nature, red & expert, remoulding, and so on.45 On the positive side, various institutes implemented the articles with positive results. For instance, the No 14 Research Institute in Nanjing under the Tenth Academy reportedly "fulfilled the task of 'producing results and competent personnel"' by 1964.46 These articles have unleashed bitter struggles among the various institutes. Due to the "bureaucratic" and "authoritarian" behaviour of certain instructors, the work of the institutes and colleges came to a standstill in the ensuing struggle for overcoming the grievances of students. In the 1960s, the classes of the 11 colleges and universities of defence technology were suspended. According to one estimate, out of a total of 125 institutes in this period, 82 were cut out, of which command academies constituted nearly 97 per cent, technical academies about 50 per cent and medical academies about 75 per cent. Of the remaining 43 institutes, 19 were amalgamated or removed or transferred to other agencies.47

Nevertheless, the achievements of these institutes are remarkable in this period. During the 1961 to 1965 period, the COSTND had allotted 90 million yuan to support the research activities of the colleges and universities in this field. In the same period, the achievements of these institutes were remarkable.48 In the subsequent Cultural Revolution period also a number of achievements were made.49 The post-1978 period witnessed a reversal of some of the measures undertaken in the previous period. These include efforts toward redressal of the issues facing the instructors by Wang Zhen from October 1976 onwards. By December 1978, a "rectification" movement had been launched in the colleges and universities that included promotion of those whose titles and positions were withdrawn in the earlier period, and doling out of material incentives. Thus, the "Regulations on the Work of the National Key Colleges and Universities" awarded wage grades and technical titles to the personnel of these institutes. According to this programme, 70 per cent of the assistants and technicians who graduated around 1960 were promoted to lecturers or engineers. The remaining 30 per cent of the old lecturers were promoted to associate professors and those lecturers and associate professors who made outstanding achievements became professors.50 In July 1998, the PLA General Political Department issued a circular that called for increasing the number of the instructors. It stated:

Military academies should continue to strengthen the compilation of teaching materials for the study of Deng Xiaoping Theory and the building of ranks of instructors and realistically ensure that Deng Xiaoping Theory has been added to teaching materials, taught in class and has entered the minds of students.

The vice-chairman of the CMC and member of the Political Bureau, Zhang Wannian, addressing the heads of the military academies and schools of the armed forces in June 1998, said, "The people are the source of soldiers and the academies are the sources of officers". These military academies have trained innumerable officers for the tasks of the PLA. According to Zhang Wannian, further,

The students we are training today will undertake the heavy task of cross-century army building. We must ensure that they will be politically qualified, will always be loyal to the party, the motherland, the people will always maintain the nature, purpose, and characteristics of the people's armed forces. ...[will follow]the education on opening up...53

Expectations of the PLA leadership are high, as can be seen in the repeated statements containing "always." However, precept and practice did not coincide and soon became a heartburn for the PLA leadership to tackle. A rigorous examination system for the recruits was one way the leadership thought could resolve these problems of verifying the suitability of the personnel. There are two major sources for recruitment to the military academies in China. The tests conducted for the high school graduates simultaneously with the national high school examinations is the first source. Recruitment through the military education system itself, i.e., through tests conducted among the rank and file of the PLA, forms the second source.54 After 1978, the rules governing the recruitment of the students and related matters were governed by the "Regulations on the Behaviour of Students of the Colleges and Universities of Higher Education" of the Ministry of Education of the State Council. It called for the student status register, credit systems, academic degree systems, optional course systems and teachers grading systems.55

As a part of the modernisation efforts, the PRC has modernised the teaching equipment of the military academies. Efforts are on to teach the students with computational methods, simulation programmes, and so on. The leaders have stressed the use of computers in these academies. However, most of the equipment in the military academies, other than the high-level one, remains outdated, and the libraries poorly stocked. Though the teaching methods were to include computers and other advanced equipment, their availability is less than the expectations. Other problems have also been plaguing the military academies in the recent period and corruption is rampant. This phenomenon emerged in the recent period of the reform process in various forms. Bribing the instructors for qualifying in the examinations is frequently done by the students. Money allocated to the military academies for the construction and expansion process has been diverted for building private residences, increasing the monthly meal expenses, buying vehicles etc. According to a recent study, on an average, the first level cadres in military academies and schools in the Beijing area, for instance, reportedly have two residences, averaging over 300 sqm., as well as two or more high-class vehicles at their disposal.56



1. See Zhang Wannian's speech to the heads of the military academies and schools of the armed forces in June 1998, "Political Bureau Member Emphasizes Military Training with Ideology" Xinhua, June 23, 1998, reported in British Broadcasting Corporation Selected World Broadcasts-Part 3 Asia Pacific [hereafter SWB FE] SWB FE/3267 G/7-8, July 1, 1998, p. G/8 for the quotation.

2. See Guan Chajie, "Military Reform Downsizes Military Academies and Schools by 30 Percent," Wide Angle, March 1998, pp. 8-9 excerped in Inside China Mainland, May 1998, pp. 31-34.

3. See for details, Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun [Chinese People's Liberation Army] (Zhang Aiping eds.) 2 Vols. (Beijing: Dangdai Zhongguo Chubanshe, 1994) [hereafter, Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun] vol.1, p. 478.

4. This is based on the information provided by Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun, vol. 1, p. 479.

5. See for the details of this meeting, Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun, vol. 1, pp. 142 and 479. This CMC meeting ended with the adoption in November of the same year of the "Report Concerning Military Academies and Military Units Training" that set the agenda for the further development of the military academies in China.

6. See, for details on the early attempts to establish educational institutions for the growth of the PLA, Nie Rongzhen, Inside the Red Star: The Memoirs of Marshal Nie Rongzhen (Beijing: New World Press, 1988) (first published in Chinese in 1984) pp628-29.

7. Mao Zedong, "Address to the First Graduating Class of the Military Academy" (July 10, 1952) in Dahai Hangxing translated in The Writings of Mao Zedong 1949-1976 Volume I September 1949-December 1955 (edited by Michael Y M Kau & John K Leung) (Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, Inc. 1986) pp. 272-273. Quotation from p 273.

8. See Zhonguo renmin jiefangjun, vol. 1, p. 482.

9. See China Today: Defence Science and Technology 2 Vols. (Beijing: Defence Science and Technology Press, 1993) [hereafter, CTDST followed by the volume number] vol. 1, pp. 37 and 859; vol. 2 Chapter 27.

10. This is based on the figures cited by CTDST, vol. 1, p. 860.

11. See for a brief outline, composition,, mission and nature of this academy, Liu Bocheng, "Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun junshi xueyuan de renwu" [The tasks of the Chinese PLA Military Academy] (1951) in Liu Bocheng junshi wenxuan [Selected Military Writings of Liu Bocheng] (Beijing: Liberation Army Press, 1992) pp 476-79.

12. See PLA Forces (Hong Kong: Conmilit Press, 1986) pp. 144-45 for details.

13. See Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun, vol. 1, pp. 142 and 481 for details.

14. See Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun, vol. 1, p. 481.

15. See CTDST, vol. 1, p. 37.

16. See CTDST, vol. 1, p. 861.

17. See for the early years of the Beijing Aeronautics Institute, Wang Yanwan, "Xin Zhongguo hangkong gaojiao chuangye ren" [A pioneer of China's Aerospace education] Hangkong Zhishi [Aeropspace Knowledge] (Beijing) Issue 247, October 1991, pp. 8-10.

18. This is based on CTDST, vol. 1, pp. 37-38.

19. See CTDST, vol. 1, p. 862.

20. See for this estimate, Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun, vol. 1, p. 483.

21. See Chinese Defence Research and Development (Hong Kong 1988) p. 236.

22. See Su Wenming ed., China's Army- Ready for Modernization (Beijing: Beijing Review, 1985) p. 108.

23. See CTDST, vol. 1, pp. 38 and 859 for details of these institutes.

24. See for details CTDST, vol. 1, p. 870.

25. See Guan Chajie, n. 2, 1998.

26. This is based on the account of Liu Mingzhi, "Chinese Communist Military Academies" Trend, August 1997 pp. 24-27 excerpted in Inside China Mainland, October 1997, pp. 35-41. See pp. 37-38

27. See "Major Reform in Chinese Military Academies," Defense & Foreign Affairs Weekly, June 23-29, 1986, p. 4.

28. See "Chinese PLA to adopt NCO system," Defense & Foreign Affairs Weekly, July 14-20, 1986, p. 3.

29. See CTDST, vol. 1, p. 868 for the tasks of the Changsha University of Defence Science and Technology.

30. This is based on Chinese Defence Research and Development (Hong Kong 1988) chapter 8, p. 236.

31. See for a background to these events, Xu Xiangqian, "Guanyu jundui yuanxiao jiaoyu gaige qingjian zhengbian wenti de jidian yijian" [Concerning Military Academies' educational reform, reorganisation problems] in his Xu Xianaqian Junshi wenxuan [Selected Military Works of Xu Xiangqian (Beijing: Liberation Army Publications, 1993) pp. 386-87.

32. See for the details of the CMC resolution, "Six Steps for Streamlining Military Schools" Xinhua, June 19, 1986, excerpted in Inside China Mainland, August 1986, p. 22.

33. See Xinhua, June 19, 1986, report in Ibid.

34. See Xinhua, June 19, 1986, report in Ibid.

35. See "Structure of the New Army schools," Xinhua, June 28, 1986, excerpted in Inside China Mainland, August 1986, pp. 22-23.

36. See Liu Mingzhi 1997, p. 38.

37. See Guan Chajie, n. 2, pp. 31-34. See p 34 for details of this process.

38. See for details on the Soviet experts, CTDST, vol. 1, p. 871.

39. See CTDST, vol. 1, p. 872.

40. See the documents of the PLA edited and translated by Dong Lisheng, "The Cadre Management System of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (I)" in Chinese Government and Law (Armonk, July-August 1995), vol. 28, no 4, p. 93 for the quotation.

41. See CTDST, vol. 1, p. 873.

42. See Nie Rongzhen, n. 6, pp. 713-27 on the developments related to these rules and regulations.

43. See for the quotation CTDST, vol. 1, p. 865.

44. See for a gist of the 14 articles, Nie Rongzhen, n. 6, pp. 717-720.

45. See for a critique of this perspective, Li Min "Bombard Nie Rongzhen and Completely Take the Lid off Class Struggle in the Defense Science and Technology Commission's Organs" in Selections from China Mainland Press, no. 4236, August 12, 1968.

46. See Nie Rongzhen, n. 6, pp. 725-26.

47. See for this estimate, Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun, vol. 1, p. 485. See also, for the CMC Administrative Group's notification on these changes of February 19, 1969, Military Science Academy History Research Bureau ed., Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun liushinianda shiji [Main Events of the Sixty years of the Chinese People's Liberation Army] (Beijing: Military Science Academy, 1988) pp. 637-38.

48. Among the achievements, mention should be made of the 441-B universal transistor digital computer, experimental equipment of 3 degree of freedom, Computer 901, hydraulic powered integrator accelerator and measurement device for nuclear explosions, communications equipment relying on meteor train, camera with rotating lens capable of 2.50 m shots per second and electrical rotating table of 3 degrees freedom, the gyro-dynamic balance machine of high accuracy, high temperature and high strength aluminum alloy, high temperature strain gauge, 78-channel telemetric equipment and pulse Doppler navigation-radar, low altitude radar altitude and H-212 rocket launcher, high voltage multiplicator, new high tension alloy and study on submarines, light, soundless and smokeless sub-machine gun, the NPU-1 target drones and so on. See for details, CTDST, vol. 1, p. 885.

49. Among these include, the 718-type central computer, 74-type rocket mine-laying vehicle, command devise of torpedo boat and radarscope speedometer, high altitude pilotless reconnaissance aircraft, study on the transonic compressor theory and related calculation methods, study on he fracture mechanics and related calculation methods, the Changhong-1 high altitude target drone and aircraft for nuclear explosion sampling, NPU-II remote-controlled target drone, calculation methods of transonic aerodynamics and study on the airfoil theory and airfoil design, Red-Arrow 73 anti-tank weapon systems and serro-mechanism of full-automatic double-barrelled anti-aircraft gun of 37mm calibre, recoilless anti-tank gun of 82 mm caliber and artillery command devise, communication control and date transmission equipment of missiles and combined meteor train and ionosphere communications equipment, studies on microwave theory and technology and theory of loop structure, ship navigation equipment and fire control command system, bow mounted sonar and torpedo firing command device, deep driving vessel and fuel battery. See CTDST, vol. 1, pp. 885-886.

50. See CTDST, vol. 1, pp. 867-68 for details.

51. See "Circular Urges Army, Police to Study Deng Xiaoping Theory" Xinhua, report of July 2, 1998, reported in SWB FE/3274 G/4, July 9, 1998.

52. See "Political Bureau Member Emphasizes Military Training with Ideology," Xinhua, June 23, 1998 reported in SWB FE/3267 G/7-8, July 1, 1998.

53. See Zhang Wannian, n. 1, p. G/8.

54. See Liu Mingzhi 1997 pp. 40-41. See also Bai Jinyang, "Zhuanfang: Difang qingnian ruhe bao zhuan jun xiao?" [How to apply for the military academy?] Bingqi Zhishi [Ordnance Knowledge] (Beijing) Issue 114 April 1997 p 28 on the No.76 Institute that offers courses in professional technical subjects.

55. See for details, CTDST, vol. 1, p. 884.

56. See Luo Bing, "Corruption Among the High Level PLA Generals" Trend, April 1998, excerpted in Inside China Mainlad, June 1998, pp. 28-32. See p. 31.