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General Staff Department

The General Staff Department carries out staff and operational functions for the PLA and had major responsibility for implementing military modernization plans. Headed by the chief of general staff, the department served as the headquarters for the ground forces and contained directorates for the three other armed services: Air Force, Navy, and Strategic Missile Force. The General Staff Department included functionally organized subdepartments for artillery, armored units, engineering, operations, training, intelligence, mobilization, surveying, communications, quartermaster services, and politics.

Navy Headquarters controlled the North Sea Fleet, East Sea Fleet, and South Sea Fleet. Air Force Headquarters generally exercised control through the commanders of the seven military regions. Nuclear forces were directly subordinate to the General Staff Department. Conventional main, regional, and militia units were controlled administratively by the military region commanders, but the General Staff Department in Beijing could assume direct operational control of any main-force unit at will. Thus, broadly speaking, the General Staff Department exercises operational control of the main forces, and the military region commanders controlled the regional forces and, indirectly, the militia.

The post of principal intelligence official in the top leadership of the Chinese military has been taken up by a number of people of several generations, from Li Kenong in the 1950's to Xiong Guangkai today; and their public capacity has always been assistant to the deputy chief of staff or assistant to the chief of staff.

Ever since the CPC officially established the system of "major military regions" for its army in the 1950's, the intelligence agencies inside the Army have, after going through several major evolutions, developed into the present three major military intelligence setups.

The Second Bureau under the Headquarters and the Liaison Department under the Political Department of major military regions are only subjected to the "professional leadership" of their "counterpart" units under the Central Military Commission and are still considered the direct subordinate units of the major military region organizationally.

Those entities whose names include the word "institute," all research institutes under the charge of the Second and the Third Departments of the PLA General Staff Headquarters, including other research organs inside the Army, are at least of the establishment size of the full regimental level.

Among the deputy commanders or deputy chiefs of staff of a major military region in China, there is always one who is assigned to take charge of intelligence work, and the intelligence agencies under his charge are directly affiliated to the headquarters and the political department of the military region.

The Conference on Strengthening Intelligence Work held from 3-18 September 1996 at the Xishan Command Center of the Ministry of State Security and the General Staff Department. Chi Haotian delivered a report entitled "Strengthen Intelligence Work in a New International Environment To Serve the Cause of Socialist Construction." The report emphasized the need to strengthen the following four aspects of intelligence work:

Although the four aspects emphasized by Chi Haotian appear to be defensive measures, they are in fact both defensive and offensive in nature.

Sources and Resources

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Created by John Pike
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Updated Wednesday, November 26, 1997 5:56:23 PM