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China Establishes New Information Support Force, Dissolving Strategic Support Force

On April 19th, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dissolved the Strategic Support Force and established a new Chinese People’s Liberation Army Information Support Force. At the inauguration ceremony, CCP leader Xi Jinping stated that the Information Support Force is a brand new strategic military branch, emphasizing that it must resolutely follow the Party’s command.

According to state media reports, the inauguration ceremony began at 4pm. Xi Jinping awarded the military flag to the Information Support Force’s commander Bi Yi and to political commissar Li Wei. Xi extended congratulations from the CCP Central Committee and the CMC. Former commander Ju Qiansheng of the Strategic Support Force did not transfer to become commander of the new Information Support Force; his next move will be closely watched.

Xi Jinping instructed the new force to implement “military thought for the new era,” adhering to strategy of “building the military through politics, reform, science and technology, personnel, and rule of law.” He said that the force must focus on combat readiness, pursue system integration and full-domain support, and build a powerful modern Information Support Force.

Xi stressed absolute obedience to the Party’s command and comprehensive implementation of the Party’s absolute leadership over the military to ensure absolute loyalty, purity and reliability. He said that the force must “powerfully support operations through information dominance and joint victory.”

Li Wei vowed on behalf of the force to resolutely implement Xi’s instructions, obey the CCP Central Committee, CMC and Xi’s command, focus on combat preparedness, and loyally fulfill duties.

After the ceremony, Xi met with the Information Support Force’s leadership team.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), April 19, 2024

BBC Chinese: New U.S. Land-Based Missile System Deployed in Philippines

BBC Chinese Edition reported on April 19th that the U.S. Army’s new land-based missile launch system, the Typhon Weapon System, was recently deployed in the northern Philippines. This is the first time this new land-based missile system has appeared in the “First Island Chain.” Medium-range missiles have a range of more than 2,000 kilometers. This means the Typhon System is able to reach China’s southeastern coastal areas, the South China Sea, and the Taiwan Strait.

Experts view this development as a warning to China and a message about the United States’ military capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region. In response to the U.S. move, Beijing immediately released a high-profile counter-signal, announcing military dialogue with Cuban military leaders.

The Typhon System has mobile combat capabilities and can be mounted on heavy transport aircraft for quick deployment. The Tomahawk missiles launched by the Typhon system have medium-range strike capabilities. This means it is capable of long-distance deep strikes against high-value targets such as command and control centers, ammunition depots, and airports. The Typhon System has a longer range than the U.S.’s Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).

The war in Ukraine has shown how difficult it is to attack a mobile system such as the Typhon. The system can also launch the RIM-174B Standard Extended Range Active Missile, which is able to attack both land and sea targets. This latest deployment appears to serve as a verification that the United States can quickly deploy the system to overseas military theaters.

Source: BBC Chinese, April 19, 2024

China Unveils J-15D, a Carrier-Based Electronic Warfare Aircraft

China’s state media CCTV recently named and reported on the J-15D electronic warfare aircraft. The new aircraft is based on the Chinese J-15 carrier-based fighter jet. The J-15D is still in testing, and it is expected to appear on the deck of China’s Fujian aircraft carrier in the near future. It is unclear if mass production is planned.

Prior to the unveiling of the J-15D, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army only had one very expensive electronic warfare aircraft, the J-16D. As there is no carrier-based version of the J-16, China’s aircraft carriers lacked an electronic warfare aircraft.

According to footage from CCTV and China Global Television Network, the carrier-based J-15D is equipped with a weapons system similar to the J-16D. Promoted as a fighter jet combined with an electronic warfare aircraft concept, the heavy-duty twin-engine J-15D can carry more air-to-air and air-to-sea/ground munitions than the J-35, serving more of a multipurpose role.

The CCTV report quoted Tencent as stating that the main reason why the Chinese navy chose the J-15 as the base for developing this new electronic warfare aircraft was that the J-15 has mature aircraft carrier capabilities, suitable for integrating electronic warfare capabilities with aircraft carriers.

As the J-15D relies on its own power, it may struggle when taking off from the ski-jump decks of the Liaoning and Shandong carriers. For this reason, analysts suggest that the Fujian carrier, which has an electromagnetic launch system, will be a more suitable host for the J-15D.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), March 31, 2024

Chinese Ministry of State Security: ‘Military Fans’ at High Risk of Becoming Espionage Targets

China’s Ministry of State Security has issued another stern warning about the potential national security threats posed by military enthusiasts, or “military fans.” The ministry says this group is a high-risk target for espionage, theft of secrets, and leaks involving military matters.

In an article titled “Another Reminder for ‘Military Fans'” published earlier this month, the ministry outlined several specific risks pertaining to this community’s activities. The article states that military fans could inadvertently “guide” foreign intelligence operations by revealing sensitive military information, their online military forums and groups could become channels for overseas theft of secrets, and individual military fans could become targets for “screening and enticement” by foreign personnel acting as “insiders.”

On March 7th, the ministry’s official WeChat account delved deeper into the risks involved. The WeChat post noted that Chinese military fans obsessively track developments of advanced weapons and equipment, closely following details such as equipment quantities and models, troop locations, and aircraft serial numbers. They establish databases compiling this sensitive information and share it on websites, constantly expanding and refining the available data. “As time goes by, this information will become increasingly rich and professional, to the point of endangering military security,” the Ministry of State Security warned.

This is not the first time that Beijing has raised alarms about the activity of military fans. On December 23rd of 2023, the Ministry cautioned fans against leaking information on construction progress, technical specifications, or deployment details of new military equipment. The Ministry’s communication at that time stated that violations could result in prison sentences of 3 to 7 years. China’s security establishment clearly views information gathering and sharing by these military enthusiasts as a critical risk to be proactively addressed.

Source: Radio Free Asia, March 20, 2024

Xi Jinping: Improve Military Strategic Capabilities In Emerging Fields

Xinhua News Agency published a report following a speech by Xi Jinping on March 7 addressing the need for “comprehensive enhancement of the military strategic capabilities in emerging fields.”  The speech was given during the Second Plenary Session of China’s 14th National People’s Congress at a meeting with a delegation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Armed Police Force.

Xi Jinping emphasized the importance of focusing on the “construction of military strategic capabilities,” including plans for strategy and implementation, in emerging fields. “[China should] coordinate the preparations to conduct maritime military struggles, safeguard [Beijing’s] maritime rights, interests, and economic development, and enhance maritime strategic capabilities. [China should] optimize the layout of aerospace and advance China’s aerospace system. [China should] construct a defense system for cyberspace and enhance the country’s ability to safeguard network security. [China should] intensify efforts to coordinate major projects in intelligent science and technology.” Xi also stressed the need for innovation and self-reliance.

The Xinhua report mentioned that Zhang Youxia, Vice Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Military Commission, presided over the meeting. He Wei-dong, another Vice Chairman, along with Liu Zhenli and Zhang Shengmin, members of the Central Military Commission, attended the meeting. The article did not mention the name of Miao Hua, who is also a member of the Central Military Commission.

Source: Xinhua, March 7, 2024

Net Ease: China’s Water Cannon Injures Filipino Admiral, Renders Filipino Ship Inoperable

Chinese Internet portal NetEase has published a commentary claiming victory following an incident on March 5 when China’s maritime police used high-pressure water cannons against a Filipino boat, causing injuries to several Filipino crew members and damaging the ship. The Filipino boat was on a resupply mission for Filipino troops stationed at the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef in the South China Sea that is claimed by several countries including China and the Philippines.

The Associated Press reported that the Chinese water cannons shattered the windshield glass of the Filipino boat’s cockpit, resulting in four injuries. The NetEase article bragged that Filipino Admiral Alberto Carlos, who was aboard the resupply boat, was among those injured in the incident, adding that Adm. Carlos is Commander of the Philippines’ West Theater and calling him a “big fish” (i.e. an important person in the Philippines’ military).

From the NetEase article: “The Chinese Coast Guard ship fired a high-pressure water cannon at the supply ship where Carlos was, instantly shattering the glass in the cockpit of the Philippine supply ship. The situation in the Philippine ship’s cabin was chaotic. Four Filipino personnel were bleeding and injured, including Adm. Carlos. Subsequently, Chinese water cannons swept across the superstructure of the Philippine ship, destroying external equipment including communication antennas, causing serious damage to the Philippine ship.”

According to the NetEase article, a U.S. Morpheus-class littoral combat ship was in nearby waters during the incident. “The U.S. ship tried to enter the Second Thomas Shoal to assist the Philippine ship. However, not far from the Littoral Combat Ship, a PLA Navy warship and a carrier-based helicopter were on patrol, and so the U.S. ship dared not to act rashly.” The article also commented that, although the U.S. has signed a Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines, the Biden administration dared not take real actions to help the Philippines; it only offered lip service.

There have been several previous incidents involving clashes between the Chinese Coast Guard and the Philippine military, including another incident with a water cannon in August 2023 and an incident in February 2023 when the Chinese maritime police used a laser against a Philippine boat, temporarily blinding one Philippine soldier.

It is not clear whether the NetEase article is just an individually-authored piece or if it was written at the behest of orders from the CCP. The article appears to be written by an individual journalist, but the Chinese Communist Party has a long-standing practice of writing articles and then letting its fans (members of the “fifty-cent” party) publish the articles in their name, packaging the articles as “public opinion.”


NetEase, March 9, 2024

Associated Press, March 6, 2024

People’s Armed Forces Departments Expanding Within Chinese State Owned Enterprises

Several Chinese State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) have established People’s Armed Forces departments (人民武装部) within their organizations. Examples include the Shanghai Municipal Investment Group (Shanghai’s government financing company), the Mengniu Group in Inner Mongolia, as well as 10 SOEs in Wuhan City, Hubei Province and several SOEs in Huizhou City, Zhejinang Province.

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, the spokesperson of China’s Ministry of National Defense, stated at a press conference on October 26, 2023 that “Our national defense is the defense of the whole people. The People’s Armed Forces departments of state-owned enterprises are part of the national defense system and are the armed work departments of the Party within state-owned enterprises.”

Political observers suggest a few possible explanations for why Beijing is establishing these new People’s Armed Forces departments within state-owned enterprises. Integration between SOEs and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could help to quell potential domestic unrest resulting from China’s economic downturn. It could also help to save resources for the PLA and could potentially enhance the military’s ability to mobilize in preparation for an invasion of Taiwan.

Source: Deutsche Welle, February 23, 2024中企纷纷设立人民武装部为哪般/a-68353845

CCP Expands Military Recruitment, Especially in Rural Areas

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is expanding its military recruitment, particularly in rural areas.

Recently-leaked CCP recruitment documents state that the CCP’s recruiting focus should be on college students, while also recruiting widely in the countryside, “leaving no dead zones” (no unrecruited rural areas). For those Chinese citizens who leave their city of residence to travel for work or school, it is mandatory that they register with the military regarding their travel plans. Expert observers believe this expanded recruitment activity is preparation for large-scale war.

The CCP is focused on recruiting college graduates, who are suitable for adaptation to modern information warfare. Rural recruits are also targeted to provide a large pool of soldiers whose casualties may have less immediate economic and political impact. There are reports that the CCP has been recruiting discharged soldiers back into service only 5 years after they leave the military, as well as relaxing requirements to allow military service by people with criminal records.

New military recruitment regulations enacted in May 2022 have enabled this expansion. The new regulations include allowing retired soldiers to re-enlist, as well as directives to recruit students with high-tech skills. The CCP has completed a nationwide military service registration covering the country’s entire population, signaling preparation for war.

According to expert Yuan Hongbing, a Chinese legal expert living in exile in Australia, the CCP under Xi Jinping is waiting to see what will happen in the 2024 US presidential election. The CCP believes that, regardless of who wins, the result will divide America for years, creating a window of opportunity for the CCP to attack Taiwan. Yuan says China’s war preparations are likely focused on seizing this window of time in 2025-2027. Expanded recruitment from rural areas in particular will provide “cannon fodder” for large-scale combat operations against Taiwan planned for this period.

Source: Epoch Times, February 12, 2024