China Marines

People's Liberation Army Navy - Marine Corps

The PLA set up its first marine regiment in April 1953. The regiment was enlarged to be a Marine division under the East China Navy of the PLA. In June 1957, the marine division was reorganized. Though the Marine Corps was originally established in the 1950s to conduct amphibious operations against Nationalist held islands, the organization was disbanded in October 1957 when the PLA essentially abandoned plans to liberate Taiwan by force. Following the disbanding of the Marine Corps, the PLAN did maintain a naval infantry, which consisted of several infantry and amphibious tank regiments.

In December 1979, the PLA Navy started under orders to reestablish the Marine Corps to meet the demand of modern warfare. In 1979 the CMC re-established the Marine Corps and organized it under the PLAN. On May 5, 1980 the 1st Marine Brigade was activated on Hainan Island.

The Marine Corps has infantry, artillery, armor and engineering units, as well as reconnaissance, chemical defense and communications units. It is intended to be a rapid assault force for amphibious operations, forward base seizure, and coastal defense.

The Marine Corps is headquartered in Beijing and reports directly to the commander of the PLAN for administrative issues, though it has an operational chain of command to the South Sea Fleet commander. It is possible that during wartime, the Marine Corps would report to the General Staff Department. [Cole 2002]

The commander of the Marine Corps is likely to be a senior captain and does not have an official position on the SSF staff.

It is principally comprised of some 10-12,000 troops organized into two brigades, both located in the South Sea Fleet.

The Marines are equipped with Type-63A tanks, Type-63 armored personnel carriers and various artillery pieces. The Marine Corps does not have an organic aviation capability.

Prior to 1999, Marine Corps officers were trained in Army academies. In 1999, the PLAN's Guangzhou Naval Vessel Academy established a Naval Marine Corps Tactics Command Department, which is responsible for training all new and company-grade Marine Corps officers.