As we move further into the era of 21st century great power competition, it is important to understand with whom we are competing. This study is the first in a series of studies by the China Aerospace Studies Institute that seeks to lay the foundation for better understanding the Aerospace Sector of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This study focuses on the major actors and institutions in the aviation portion of the PRC’s aerospace sector. Further case studies will examine specific programs within the sector, as well as the role of so-called ‘private’ or ‘commercial’ companies. This foundational study looks at the national-level, and the state-owned enterprises (SOE) that make up the bulk of PRC aviation.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to develop rapidly across all aspects, hardware, technology, personnel, and organizational structure, etc. The PLA’s aerospace forces are, in many ways, leading that change. These include the PLA Air Force (PLAAF), PLA Naval Aviation, PLA Rocket Force (PLARF), and space and cyber assets affiliated with the PLA Strategic Support Force (PLASSF). This second edition from the China Aerospace Studies Institute (CASI), seeks to provide a brief primer on the trends affecting these forces and provide basic information about their composition and role today.
This study focuses on the People of the People’s Liberation Army. Without people, there is no army, and without highly trained people, there is no modern army. This is true not just for China, but for nations all over the world, the United States included. U.S. military periodicals and journals often feature articles and exposes detailing a myriad of ‘people problems’ facing the Department of Defense today. Obesity of potential recruits, low levels of civilian unemployment, and massive pilot shortage, are just a few of the challenges that the U.S. facing with recruiting, training, and retaining the best and brightest for the U.S. military. China’s Communist Party faces many of the same challenges in trying to fill and maintain the ranks of the PLA; however, some are uniquely Chinese, and may come as a surprise to those not familiar with certain aspects of Chinese culture.