- In-Country Power
- International Power
- Military Strength
- Special Skill: Dragon Grower
- Official Title: Minister for National Defense
- Government: One-Party State
- Years Left in Office: Indefinite
- Political Classification:
- Education: Military man; 100% up the ranks
- Age: 79 (born December 10, 1940)
Liang Guanglie Facts and Information
- Continues to serve as an Army General in the People's Liberation Army of China.
- Was China’s Minister of National Defense from 2008-2012.
- Served as Chief of Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from 2002-2007.
- The People’s Liberation Army is the World’s largest standing army, with the World’s second-largest defense budget.
- The People’s Liberation Army has a hand, directly and indirectly, in almost every territorial dispute China engages in with its territorial neighbors.
- Oversaw the biggest period for military growth in China’s history.
t used to be that the United States had the biggest, baddest military in the whole world. The United States showed that they were the world’s police by sticking their nose in the Vietnam War, Gulf War, Bosnia, and so on. After the U.S. of A got themselves stuck, yes that’s right, stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan for the better part of a decade, there’s been a new player on the scene: The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China. One of the PLA’s biggest influential people? Liang Guang-lie (pronounced LEE-yeah).
Starting as a soldier and squad leader in 1958, Liang built his resume in the field. He worked himself up the totem pole, up to the title of Commander of the Nanjing Military Area Command, one of China’s biggest military jurisdictions, in 2002. From there, he would be selected as top dog, or Chief of Staff of the PLA from 2002 until 2007. Then, in 2008, he assumed the top top dog position, or Minister of National Defense. 50 years in the military, whew! Nobody wants to mess with Liang!
To one, Liang looks like an Asian version of Yosemite Sam. But don’t let the mug or coat of arms fool you; this military man is also quite the scholar. Liang attended the PLA Military Academy from 1982 to 1983 and ended up graduating from Henan University’s political theory correspondence education program in 1986.
During his term, Liang has also made connections with his fellow border generals, mainly. He also reached out to Leon Panetta in the United States and made strides to make China’s defense more (a little?) transparent, just to keep the West at ease.
So what does Liang have at his disposal? THE largest active military in the World at over 2.2 million active troops! How about them fortune cookies! Only the United States (1.4 million) and North Korea (1.1 milllion) can even come close. China spent $129.2 billion dollars in 2011 on defense spending, outpacing everyone in the World but the United States. China has spent the better part of that money replenishing its air force with advanced Russian fighter jets and equipping its ground forces with advnaced tanks and artillery. China is also the only nation in the World with more than 200 active nuclear warheads (only the United States, Russia and France have more). Just last year, China rolled out its first aircraft carrier and will potentially roll out a stealth fighter, allegedly based on a shot down United States fighter jet. Have any of these raised an eyebrow yet?
While the PLA has avoided major conflict since the Korean War, China has had border disputes with Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Mongolia, North Korea. They’ve also had a hand in the following disputes in Asia: The Diaoyutai/Senakaku Islands (with Japan), the Spratly Islands (Vietnam), the South China Sea/East Philippine Sea dispute (the Philippines) Taiwan/Jinmen/Matsu/Pescadores Islands (Taiwan), South Tibet (India), Kazakhstan border, Yalu River territory (North Korea), and countless others. If it’s in close proximity, China probably wants a hand in it.
But with those military numbers and border disputes, China has taken a more defensive stance in the World. With exception to the recent Diaoyutai/Senakaku Island ‘skirmishes’ with Japan, the only other military incident China involved itself in was the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis in which China lobbed missiles over Taiwan to try to influence Taiwan’s democratic elections (which got an immediate reprimand from then U.S. President Bill Clinton, as he sent the USS Independence and USS to the area in response). In essence, China flashes the military power but doesn’t let the hardware do the talking.
(Stay tuned to the Diaoyutai/Senakaku Island disputes with Japan. Japan has been the only country as of late to encroach on territory claimed by China. If Japan presses the issue further, maybe the World will see a more OFFENSIVE MINDED China….)
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