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This article is organised as follows:

  • Part 01: Introduction to China’s Elite and Special Forces
  • Part 02: Hierarchy of China’s Elite and Special Forces
  • Part 03: Organisation of China’s Elite and Special Forces
  • Part 04: Miscellaneous.

1.0     Introduction

“China’s reluctance to get involved globally on a large scale may translate to a prioritization of development of China’s special operations capabilities.” (Kamphausen & Lai, 2015, p.220).

Thanks to Hollywood, a term used to denote the US-based film industry, most people can probably name the US military’s Special Operations Forces (SOF) units such as the US Navy SEALs, Green Berets, US Army Rangers, Delta Force and SEAL Team Six (aka DEVGRU). However, it is unlikely the same could be said for China’s SOF.

The Chinese Armed Forces, known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), is a unified organisation of China’s sea, air and land forces. The PLA is one of the largest military forces in the world.

Unlike their US counterparts, Chinese SOF does not cover the full range of modern SOF missions, being mainly concerned with direct action, special reconnaissance and counter-terrorism. They are generally likened to the US Rangers in their capabilities.

Further, China’s SOF are considered young, being established in the 1990s, although they can trace their lineage back to the 1920s. Chinese SOF are also organised and supported differently to the US, and have minimal real world operational experience. However, with a change in the law (discussed later) Chinese SOF will soon be gaining that real world operational experience.

Chinese SOF are divided between the PLA, generally covering direct action and special reconnaissance, and the People’s Armed Police (PAP), generally covering anti-terrorism – although the PLA has been involved in counter-terrorism operations.

Katoch and Datta (2013) reported that Chinese SOF numbered approximately 14,000 personnel, although Blasko (2015) states that number is now closer to 20,000 to 30,000 personnel (or approximately 1% of the PLA).

Although generally likened with the US Rangers, the Chinese strategy of surprise, shock and keeping the adversary lulled, and akin to their cyber capabilities, it could be suggested that the potential of Chinese SOF is much more than they would like the world to believe.

This article will provide the reader with an outline of the SOF within the Chinese Armed Forces. Section Two provides a brief history on the origins of Chinese SOF as well as the broad mission of the various units. Section Three provides an outline of the organisation Chinese SOF looking at the various units. Section Four outlines the role and tasks, whilst Sections Five and Six discuss the difference between Tiers and Tier 2 units and women in SOF respectively. Finally, Section Seven provides some useful links and publications, as well as references.

2.0     Background to Chinese Special Operations Forces

This section provides a brief history of Chinese SOF, outline of the broad mission of SOF and a brief overview of the hierarchy of Chinese SOF.

2.1     The Origins of Chinese Special Operations

Source: sinodefence.com

This sub-section provides a brief history of Chinese SOF which can trace their lineage back to the 1920s, two decades earlier than their Western counterparts.

SOF elements have been part of the Chinese Communist Party well before the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army (commonly known as the Red Army) was founded. Selected party members were involved in enforcing party discipline and killing counterrevolutionaries, while the latter, with the formation of the Red Army were traditional long-range reconnaissance forces capable of operating behind enemy lines and as elite light infantry (Andrew, 2015).

The PLA can trace its roots to the 1927 Nanchang Uprising of the Chinese Communists against the Chinese Nationalists. Initially known as the Red Army, it grew under Mao Zedong and Zhu De from 5,000 troops in 1929 to 200,000 in 1933 – with only a fraction of this force surviving the Long March in retreat from the Nationalists (Andrew, 2015).

After rebuilding its strength, a large portion of the communist forces, the Eighth Route Army, fought with the Nationalists against the Japanese in northern China during World War II. In WWII (and the war against the Nationalists immediately after), carefully selected soldiers from ordinary units were formed into temporary composite units, given specialised training and weapons, and tasked with special missions such as long-range penetration, tactical reconnaissance, raids on vital enemy positions, etc. After the mission was accomplished, these units were normally disbanded and soldiers returned to their original units (Global Defence, 2008).

After WWII communist forces, now renamed the People’s Liberation Army, defeated the Nationalists and made possible the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

Between the 1950s and 1980s, the PLA relied on specially-trained reconnaissance units within its ground forces for some special missions (Global Defence, 2008). Each military region (MR) had a regiment-sized reconnaissance group directly organic to the military region headquarters (MRHQ). Army corps and divisions also had their own subordinated reconnaissance units (usually battalion- or company-sized). Although these reconnaissance units were not ‘special forces’ using the modern definition, their missions covered the spectrum of special operations tasking.

The Sino-Vietnam border conflicts that took place in 1979 and the 1980s was the first wake-up call to the PLA that it lacked a dedicated SOF capability. During the conflicts, Vietnamese SOF operating in small groups caused the PLA some considerable causalities and losses. Towards the end of the conflicts, the PLA quickly learned from its lessons and began to send its own SOF units, mostly composed of personnel from army reconnaissance units, to operate behind enemy lines for raiding, ambushing, kidnapping, reconnaissance, and other special operations (Global Defence, 2008).

“China created its elite special forces and Rapid Reaction Units (RRU) in the 1980s.” (Kamphausen & Lai, 2015, p.220), starting with the “Special Reconnaissance Group” in 1988 (Lavendar, 2013, p.5).

Modern Chinese SOF is modelled upon the Russian SOF pattern. And, although adept at guerrilla warfare and special missions, the PLA did not have a dedicated Special Forces component until the early 1990s when China underwent a doctrinal change from ‘people’s war’ towards ‘fighting a local war under high-tech conditions’.

Chinese SOF now consist of PLA Army SF, PLA Army aviation units, PLA Rocket Force, PLA Navy Marine Corps, PLA Air Force Airborne troops and the People’s Armed Police force units.

Initially, PLA Army SOF units were under the command of one of seven Military Region HQs (replaced by five Theatre Commands) but, from around 2003, command transitioned to Group Armies (which are distributed among the Theatre Commands).

2.2     Chinese SOF Mission

“In PLA’s terminology, “special forces” or “special operations forces” (SOF) refers specially to a group of small, highly-trained, elite ground forces units tasked with specialised operations such as special reconnaissance, counter terrorism, and direct action.” (Global Defence, 2008).

“Despite its early history as a guerrilla organisation, the PLA does not include irregular and unconventional warfare among the types of campaigns the force may be assigned. Special operations are an “important campaign activity” to be integrated into operations along with information warfare, firepower, manoeuvre, and psychological warfare capabilities.” (Blasko, 2015)

Kamphausen & Lai (2015, p.220) do not fully agree with Blasko’s assessment stating:

“Today, their training extends into more unconventional warfighting missions such as sabotage, and no-contact long range warfare (indirect attacks against an enemy from beyond the line of sight), with the United States and Japan as potential enemies.”

The general consensus is that in conflict scenarios, e.g. wartime operations, Chinese SOF would likely be deployed in conjunction with their airborne forces concentrating on special reconnaissance, raids, sabotage and harassment while other non-SOF units would conduct special technical warfare tasks (in both war and non-war periods) such as computer network attacks. However, in non-war periods Chinese SOF would likely be covertly deployed for information support operations, strategic surveillance, training, arming and advising dissident/terrorist/insurgent groups in target countries, and perception management.

Traditionally PLA SOF units could only operate within China’s national borders. However, “A law that came into effect in January [2016] authorises the PLA, the paramilitary, the police and national security agents to fight terrorism overseas.” (Lui, 2016).

2.3     President of the People’s Republic of China

The President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), a civilian, has three main roles:

  • President of the PRC;
  • General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party; and
  • Chairman of the Central Military Commission.

2.4     Premier of the People’s Republic of China

The Premier of the PRC, a civilian, is the head of the Chinese Government’s State Council, which leads three important ministries (State Council, 2014):

  • The Ministry of Public Security;
  • The Ministry of State Security; and
  • The Ministry of National Defense.

2.5     Ministry of Public Security

The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) is a, blue- or black-uniformed, civilian police force responsible for domestic law enforcement. The MPS has approximately 1.9 million personnel.

2.6     Ministry of State Security

The Ministry of State Security (MSS) is the Chinese Government’s main domestic and international intelligence organisation, performing functions similar to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA, international intelligence) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, domestic intelligence).

2.7     Ministry of National Defense

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) is headed by the Minister of National Defense, generally known as the Defence Minister.

The MND was established in 1954 after a decision by the 1st Session of the 1st National People’s Congress. In contrast to western convention, the MND does not exercise command authority over the PLA, which is instead subordinate to the Central Military Commission (CMC). The MND principally serves as a liaison body representing the CMC and PLA when dealing with foreign militaries in military exchange and cooperation.

Its official responsibilities had been to exercise unified administration over the development of the Chinese Armed Forces such as recruitment, organisation, equipment, training, scientific military research of the PLA, and the ranking and remuneration of the officers and enlisted personnel. However, in reality, these responsibilities are carried out by the fifteen (15) agencies (previously four General Headquarters) of the PLA, which are under the control of the CMC.

Although the MND itself does not exercise much authority, the role of the Defence Minister has always been viewed as one of the most important positions in China’s political system. The Minister is always an active military officer (OF-9 level), a State Councillor and a member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee and member (sometimes a Vice Chairman) of the CMC, enabling the post holder to take part in the decision making process in the PLA, the Government and the Chinese Communist Party.

2.8     Central Military Commission

The CMC, chaired by the President of the PRC, exerts command and control of the PLA through fifteen (15) agencies: general office; joint staff department; political work department; logistical support department; equipment development department; training department; national defence mobilisation department; discipline inspection commission; politics and law commission; science and technology commission; administration; auditing; international cooperation; reform and organisational structure; and strategic planning (Zhaohui, 2016).

The Joint Staff Department has a number of responsibilities including military operational planning, command and control, studying and formulating military strategies, and assessing operational capacity (Zhaohui, 2016).

Reforms in early 2016, initiated by the then President of the PRC, witnessed a reorganisation from four departments to the fifteen agencies noted above.

2.9     Director General SOF

“Officially, the PLA does not have a unified command like the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) for special operations, but the Intelligence Department (2nd Department) of the PLA General Staff Department may serve as a general director for SOF and special forces warfare doctrines development. The SOF units are also believed to be closely associated with the intelligence department[s] of the seven MRHQs.” (Global Defence, 2008).

There is currently (as of May 2017) no public information available discussing the post of general director of SOF after the 2016 reforms.

2.10     Chinese Armed Forces

The Chinese Armed Forces consists of seven (7) organisations (China Military, 2017) with approximately 2.3 million regular (or active duty) personnel, and just over 500,000 reserve personnel, divided into:

  • The PLA Army (PLAA) with approximately 1.6 million personnel;
  • The PLA Navy (PLAN) with approximately 235,000 personnel; and
  • The PLA Air Force (PLAAF) with approximately 398,000 personnel.
  • The PLA Rocket Force (PLARF, formerly The Second Artillery) (Tao, 2016a) consisting of conventional, nuclear ballistic and cruise missile units has approximately 100,000 personnel.
  • The Strategic Support Force “is a new type of combat force to secure national security.” (Tao, 2016b), focusing on cyber, information and electromagnetic warfare, and likely some areas of space operations.
  • The People’s Armed Police (PAP) Force has approximately 660,000 personnel and has a dual command structure:
    • Central Military Commission; and
    • State Council (through the MPS) directs domestic security efforts.
      The Reserve Force.

Military reforms will see PLAA regular and reserve personnel numbers reduced whilst reserve personnel in the other branches will be increased (Jianing, 2017).

The PLA is commanded through the CMC, with PLA Army combat units distributed among one of five Theatre Commands (Eastern, Southern, Western, Northern and Central).

Although the PLA’s primary role is to defend China from external threats, by law, it has a secondary role of supporting domestic security operations.

3.0     Organisation of Chinese SOF

As well as the traditional leadership and staff officer roles identified above, Chinese SOF also consists of military and police units (Katoch & Datta, 2013). Originally organised around the seven military regions (MRs), from approximately 2003 there was a transition of command of PLAA units from the old MRHQs to the Group Army HQs (Global Defence, 2008). Group Armies now sit within the new Theatre Commands (TC).

Each of the five new TC will focus on combat operations and enhancing joint training of subordinate forces based on wartime missions. The new commands include:

  • The Eastern TC based on the former Nanjing MR responsible for Taiwan operations and territorial disputes with Japan;
  • The Southern TC based on the Guangzhou MR responsible for operations against Vietnam and the South China Sea region, as well as providing forces for operations in a Taiwan conflict;
  • Western TC based on the former Chengdu and Lanzhou MRs;
  • Northern TC based on Shenyang MR plus Inner Mongolia and Shandong Provinces responsible for responding to potential instability on the Korean peninsula or possibly supporting operations against Japan; and
  • A Central TC based on Beijing and Jinan MRs with responsibility for capital defence and serving as a strategic reserve to reinforce other theatres.

A fuller description of individual SOF units, by branch of military service, can be accessed by clicking on their headings.

3.1     PLA Army SOF

Under the old MR model (pre-2016), each PLA MR had at least one SOF unit, with each unit being roughly the size of an Army Regiment and established with 1,000 to 2,000 personnel across three battalions. Since their inception in the 1990s, there has been a gradual upgrading of PLAA SOF units from group to regiment to brigade status. Each battalion had its own HQ and support unit (Global Defence, 2008). Each SOF unit had a unique codename with units organised as follows (Blasko, 2015):

  • Beijing Military Region Special Forces Unit (MRSFU), known as Oriental Sword (东方神剑); one unit (one brigade).
  • Guangzhou MRSFU, known as South China Sword (华南之剑) or South Blade; one unit (one brigade).
  • Chengdu MRSFU, known as Southwest China Falcon (西南猎鹰) or [Leopard (猎豹)]; two units (one brigade and one group).
  • Shenyang MRSFU, known as Siberian Tiger (东北虎); two units (one brigade and one group).
  • Nanjing MRSFU, known as Flying Dragon (飞龙); two units (two brigades).
  • Jinan MRSFU, known as Eagle (雄鹰); one unit (one brigade).
  • Lanzhou MRSFU, known as Tiger of Dark Night (暗夜之虎) or Night Tiger; two units (one brigade and one regiment).
  • Hong Kong Special Operations Company, known as the 5 Minute Response Unit (part of the Honk Kong Garrison within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region).
  • The Macau Quick Reaction Platoon, known as the ‘Sharp Swords’ (Fitsanakis, 2015), ‘Macao Guard Unit’ or ‘Kimchee Commandos’ (part of the Macau Garrison within the Macau Special Administrative Region).

Under the Theatre Command model (post-2016), PLAA formations are organised as follows (Blasko, 2017; McCauley, 2017):

  • Eastern Theatre Command:
    • One special operations brigade within 71st Group Army (previously 12th Group Army (Wood, 2017a));
    • One special operations brigade within 72nd Group Army (previously 1st Group Army); and
    • One special operations brigade within 73rd Group Army (previously 31st Group Army (Wood, 2017a)).
  • Southern Theatre Command:
    • One special operations brigade within 74th Group Army (previously 41st Group Army);
    • One special operations brigade within 75th Group Army (previously 42nd Group Army (Wood, 2016));
    • 14th Group Army has been disbanded.
  • Western Theatre Command:
    • One special operations brigade within 76th Group Army (previously 21st Group Army);
    • One special operations brigade within 77th Group Army (previously 13th Group Army); and
    • 47th Group Army has been disbanded.
    • Possibly one special operations group in the Tibet Military District (MD) and one special operations regiment in the Xinjiang MD (Blasko, 2015).
  • Northern Theatre Command:
    • One special operations brigade, located at Shenyang, within 78th Group Army (previously 16th Group Army (Wood, 2017b));
    • One special operations brigade, located at Liaoyang, within 79th Group Army (previously 39th Group Army (Wood, 2017b));
    • One special operations brigade within 80th Group Army (previously 26th Group Army);
    • 40th Group Army has been disbanded.
  • Central Theatre Command:
    • One special operations brigade within 81st Group Army (previously 65th Group Army);
    • One special operations brigade within 82nd Group Army (previously 38th Group Army);
    • One special operations brigade within 83rd Group Army (previously 54th Group Army);
    • 20th Group Army has been disbanded.
    • 27th Group Army has been disbanded.

Small SOF units have also been established in some PLAA divisions and brigades. Most PLA SOF units have been upgraded to brigade-size with approximately 2,000 to 3,000 personnel (Blasko, 2015). Over the period 2000 to 2015, and including all branches of military service, the number of SOF personnel has roughly doubled (Blasko, 2015).

3.2     PLA Navy SOF

The main SOF unit of the PLAN is the Dragon Commando (蛟龙突击队), a regiment-sized unit, and was established during the 2000s as part of the South Sea Fleet.

Consisting of the 1st Marine Brigade and 164th Marine Brigade, “China’s two marine brigades, for example, are located near Zhanjiang in Guangdong province.” (Wood, 2016).

These two marine brigades, converted from Infantry brigades, are under the command of the South Sea Fleet, also located in Zhanjiang, and are led by Captains or Senior Captains (OF-5).

3.3     PLA Air Force SOF

The main SOF unit of the PLAAF is the Thor Commando (雷神突击队). This SOF Group was established during the 2000s in one of the three divisions of the 15th Airborne Corps.

Unusual for a military organisation, China’s airborne forces have always been subordinate to the PLA Air Force rather than the PLA Army.

During wartime operations, airborne forces are expected to work in conjunction with PLA SOF units.

3.4     PLA Rocket Force SOF

The PLA Rocket Force (PLARF, formerly The Second Artillery) (Tao, 2016a) has established a SOF unit at either group or regiment size (Blasko, 2015).

3.5     PAP SOF

PAP has two SOF units, both stationed in Beijing, and they are the two main anti-terrorist units (Blasko, 2015):

  • Snow Leopard Commando (雪豹突击队); Beijing Zongdui, 13th Zhidui, group-sized; and
  • Falcon Commando (猎鹰突击队); PAP Special Police Academy, brigade-sized.

3.6     PLA Special Operations Academy

The PLA Special Operations Academy (解放军特种作战学院), sometimes translated as the Academy of Special Operations, was established in 2012 in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province (Blasko, 2015).

The original purpose of the academy was to prepare junior officers for assignments in SOF units.

3.7     PLA Physical Culture Academy

“The recent emphasis on building Special Operations Forces has resulted in the establishment of a unique course within the Physical Culture Academy in Guangzhou that includes anti-terrorist, peacekeeping, and information technology operations.” (Blasko, 2006, p.61).

The Physical Culture Academy was previously part of the General Staff Department (Blasko, 2006).

4.0     Roles and Tasks

Unlike US SOF, the PLA focuses the roles of its SOF on direct action, special reconnaissance and counter-terrorism (Global Defence, 2008). PLA SOF units are not generally trained for unconventional warfare (UW) and civil affairs (CA) unlike their US counterparts. This is because current PLA doctrine suggests the use of SOF for a high-intensity, lightning-fast regional conflict that is over in short amount of time. The PLA are not intending to be involved in long-duration, low-intensity operations in foreign countries, in contrast to US SOF in Southeast Asia in the 1960s/70s.

Chinese SOF assets undertake a number of roles, or core activities, with a degree of interaction and interoperability:

  • Direct Action (DA): The most important mission for PLA SOF, involving short-duration strikes and other small-scale offensive actions, is to seize, destroy, capture, recover or inflict damage on designated personnel or material. Other DA operations may include: capturing enemy airfields and seaports for subsequent airborne and amphibious landing troops; sabotaging enemy equipment and systems; attacking vital civilian infrastructure; ambushing enemy forces; spreading misinformation to cause enemy confusion, etc.
  • Special Reconnaissance (SR): This involves reconnaissance and surveillance actions to obtain or verify vital intelligence and information, by using visual and other hi-tech collection methods. It may also involve locating and designating targets for precision strikes.
  • Counter-Terrorism (CT): Training in offensive counter-terrorism operations to prevent, deter and respond to terrorism.
  • Other Roles: PLA SOF, on occasion, also act as ‘Blue Army’ (opposing force) during training exercises in order to test the ability of regular army units against SOF.

5.0     Tier 1 and Tier 2 Special Forces

A number of SF units are sometimes referred to as ‘Tier 1’ SF units because they are the units usually tasked with direct action; e.g. Oriental Sword or South China Sword. Other units are referred to as ‘Tier 2’ units as they, usually, fulfil a supporting role for the Tier 1 units.

6.0     Women and Chinese SOF

The PLA established its first female SF unit on 30 March 2013 (Women of China, 2017). The unit, based in Beijing, started with just over 40 personnel.

7.0     Miscellaneous

7.1     Useful Links

7.2     Useful Publications

  • Books:
    • Bo, J.Q. (2015) Chinese Special Forces: Real Man. Chinese Edition. Jiangsu: Jiangsu Phoenix Art Publishing House.
    • Kamphausen, R. & Lai, D. (eds) (2015) The Chinese People’s Liberation Army in 2025. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Strategic Studies Institute and United States Army War College Press. Available from World Wide Web: https://fas.org/nuke/guide/china/pla-2025.pdf. [Accessed: 25 April, 2017].
    • Lee, N. (1983) The Chinese People’s Liberation Army 1980-82: Modernisation, Strategy and Politics. Canberra: Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. Available from World Wide Web: http://sdsc.bellschool.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/publications/attachments/2016-03/sdsc-lee.pdf. [Accessed: 25 April, 2017].
    • Pollpeter, K. & Allen, K.W. (eds) (0000) The PLA as Organization v2.0. PLACE: Defence Group Inc. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.pla-org.com/downloads/. [Accessed: 25 April, 2017].
  • Research:
    • Lavender, D.J. (2013) China’s Special Operations Forces Modernization, Professionalization and Regional Implications. Master’s Thesis. United States Army War College. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA589222. [Accessed: 17 April, 2017].
  • Magazines:
    • Henderson, S.J. (2006) In the Shadow: Chinese Special Forces Build a 21st-Century Fighting Force. Special Warfare: The Professional Bulletin of US Army Special Operations. July-August 2006. 19(4), pp.30-35.
    • Cheng, D. (2012) The Chinese People’s Liberation Army and Special Operations. Special Warfare: The Professional Bulletin of US Army Special Operations. July-September 2012. 25(3), pp.24-27.
    • Andrew, M. (2015) The Origins of Chinese Special Forces, 1922-1935. Special Operations Journal. 1(1), pp.37-43.

7.3     References

Blasko, D.J. (2006) The Chinese Army Today: Tradition and Transformation for the 21st Century. Abingdon: Routledge.

Blasko, D.J. (2015) Chinese Special Operations forces: Not Like “Back at Bragg”. Available from World Wide Web: https://warontherocks.com/2015/01/chinese-special-operations-forces-not-like-back-at-bragg/. [Accessed: 17 April, 2017].

Blasko, D.J. (2017) What is Known and Unknown about Changes to the PLA’s Ground Combat Units. Available from World Wide Web: https://jamestown.org/program/known-unknown-changes-plas-ground-combat-units/. [Accessed: 13 June, 2017].

Bo, T. (2016) China Military Transformation ep2: Infantry Unit Transformed into Special Ops Force. Available from World Wide Web: http://english.cctv.com/2016/10/03/VIDElGGrPvXb8NKbzLmNJ9Ge161003.shtml. [Accessed: 17 April, 2017].

China Military (2017) Armed Forces. Available from World Wide Web: http://english.chinamil.com.cn/armed-forces/index.htm. [Accessed: 25 April, 2017].

Fitsanakis, J. (2015) Macau Authorities Deny CIA Tried to Assassinate Snowden. Available from World Wide Web: https://intelnews.org/2015/04/28/01-1686/. [Accessed: 15 May, 2017].

Global Defence (2008) PLA Special Operations Forces. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.globaldefence.net/archiv/artikelanalysen/asien/chinaplaspecialoperationsforcesenglishversion/. [Accessed: 25 April, 2017].

Jianing, Y. (2017) China to Reduce Army Reserves as part of Military Reform. Available from World Wide Web: http://english.chinamil.com.cn/view/2017-03/10/content_7521737.htm. [Accessed: 25 April, 2017].

Katoch, P.C. & Datta, S. (2013) India’s Special Forces: History and Future of Indian Special Forces. New Delhi: Vij Books India Pvt Ltd.

Lui, Z. (2016) China’s Special Forces need to Extend Overseas Reach to Safeguard Interests, Military Mouthpiece Says. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2003775/chinas-special-forces-need-extend-overseas-reach. [Accessed: 17 April, 2017].

McCauley, K. (2017) Snapshot: China’s Western Theater Command. Available from World Wide Web: https://jamestown.org/program/snapshot-chinas-western-theater-command/. [Accessed: 16 May, 2017].

State Council (2014) State Council Organization Chart. Available from World Wide Web: http://english.gov.cn/state_council/2014/09/03/content_281474985533579.htm. [Accessed: 19 May, 2017].

Tao, Z. (ed) (2016a) PLA holds Symposium to Mark Missile Force Anniversary. Available from World Wide Web: http://english.chinamil.com.cn/view/2016-06/28/content_7220910.htm. [Accessed: 25 April, 2017].

Tao, Z. (ed) (2016b) Strive to Build a strong, modern Strategic Support Force: Xi. Available from World Wide Web: http://english.chinamil.com.cn/view/2016-08/29/content_7231309.htm. [Accessed: 25 April, 2017].

Women of China (2017) China’s First Female Special Forces Unit Receives Parachute Training. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.womenofchina.com.cn/html/report/6210-1.htm. [Accessed: 17 April, 2017].

Wood, P. (2016) Snapshot: China’s Southern Theater Command. Available from World Wide Web: https://jamestown.org/program/snapshot-chinas-southern-theater-command/. [Accessed: 16 May,2017].

Wood, P. (2017a) Snapshot: China’s Eastern Theater Command. Available from World Wide Web: https://jamestown.org/program/snapshot-chinas-eastern-theater-command/. [Accessed: 16 May, 2017].

Wood, P. (2017b) Strategic Assessment: China’s Northern Theater Command. Available from World Wide Web: https://jamestown.org/program/strategic-assessment-chinas-northern-theater-command/. [Accessed: 13 June, 2017].

Zhaohui, D. (ed) (2016) China Reshuffles Military Headquarters. Available from World Wide Web: http://english.chinamil.com.cn/view/2016-01/11/content_7160596.htm. [Accessed: 25 April, 2017].