Expert: China's Marine Corps will not become expeditionary force

Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Yao Jianing
2016-01-19 17:53

BEIJING, January 19 (ChinaMil) -- The officers and soldiers of the Marines Corps and a special operations regiment under the PLA Navy set off from south China’s Guangdong Province, and headed for northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for a trans-Military Area Command (MAC) long-distance maneuver training early this month.

Several thousand Marines and special operations members were projected to a training base in Xinjiang by a number of means, such as air, railway and highway. The entire process involved seven provinces, with a trans-MAC maneuver distance of up to 5,900 kilometers.

This not only marks the kick-off of the realistic training of the PLA Navy Marines Corps in 2016, but also is an action with the longest force projection distance, longest time and biggest span in the history of the PLA Navy Marine Corps.

The PLA Navy Marine Corps also broke the habit of going to a cold region for acclimatization training first and then conducting the realistic confrontation. Instead, they directly conducted the realistic confrontation drill after arriving at the Gobi Desert in Xinjiang, which tests the emergency handling ability of the Marines in a strange region to the maximum extent.

Yin Zhuo, director of Naval Informatization Expert Committee, said that the Chinese Marine Corps not only carries out amphibious operations, but also performs such tasks as anti-terrorism and overseas operations, and is an "elite troop".

The missions of the Marine Corps include landing operations on islands and islets, as well as long-distance power projection. The PLA is now equipped with large amphibious warships with water displacement of more than 20,000 tons, and will be equipped with large amphibious warships with bigger tonnage. The PLA Navy Marine Corps will also join the overseas operations under a United Nations command in the future, according to Yin Zhuo.

The training regions in Xinjiang this time included the cold and mountainous regions, where the Marine Corps are likely to perform tasks in the future and to which the Marines must get adapted, Yin Zhuo added.

The continuing drills are an indication, analysts say, that the marines, who have traditionally trained for amphibious assault missions, are being honed into an elite force capable of deploying on land far from mainland China, according to the report of Reuters.

"The Marine Corps never really had a major strategic role, as force projection wasn't something the PLA was willing, or able, to think about even ten years ago, but now the marines are a good fit for a budding Chinese expeditionary force " an independent security analyst told Reuters.

Yin Zhuo pointed out that it is very inappropriate for foreign media to claim that the PLA Navy Marine Corps may become an "expeditionary force". The so-called "expeditionary force" refers to an overseas intervention force like the Marine Corps of western countries, especially the United States.

Between hegemony and anti-hegemony, China certainly chooses anti-hegemony, and its overseas power projection will also be anti-hegemonic in the future. The tasks that we take on are the peacekeeping and stability safeguarding tasks under the United Nations flag.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, China will take on increasingly important tasks. We have not joined large-scale operations in the true sense so far due to equipment constraints. The Chinese military will make its contributions if the United Nations needs it in the future.

The author is Huang Zijuan, reporter from the People’s Daily Online.

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