Chinese Navy Marine Corps conducts amphibious assault drills

Amid increasing tensions between China and various countries disputing the Chinese self-proclaimed sovereignty on the South China Sea, the Chinese army (PLA) is conducting drills that follow various scenarios.
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Peoples Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps conducts amphibious Assault drill 1 Chinese ZTD-05 amphibious light tank (Picture source: PLA via Indian Research Centre Twitter account)

The People's Liberation Army Navy-Marine Corps (PLANMC), also known as the People's Liberation Army Marine Corps (PLAMC), is the marine force of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and one of five major branches of the PLA Navy (PLAN). It currently consists of two 6,000-man brigades, with a third brigade being organized from the transfer of the PLA Ground Force’s 77th Motorized Infantry Brigade.

The PLAN Marine Corps was originally established in April 1953 during the Chinese Civil War by Communist Chinese troops to conduct amphibious operations against islands held by the Nationalists. By the end of the Korean War, the PLAN Marine Corps numbered 110,000 people organized in eight divisions. However, the organization was disbanded in October 1957 when the leadership of China abandoned any plans to seize the island of Taiwan. Following the disbanding of the Marine Corps, the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) did maintain a naval infantry force, which consisted of several infantry regiments and amphibious tank regiments.

In 1979 the Central Military Commission of China re-established the Marine Corps and organized it under the PLAN. On 5 May 1980, the 1st Marine Brigade was activated on Hainan.

In view of the growing tension between Mainland China and the Republic of China during the 1990s, the number of PLAN Marine Corps units was again increased. 1st Marine Brigade China was reinforced and rearmed. In July 1998, the 164th Motorized Infantry Division of the PLA Ground Force’s 41st Group Army had been transferred to the PLAN South Sea Fleet and became the 164th Marine Brigade, with its home base in Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province. In February 2017, it was reported that the 77th Motorized Infantry Brigade of the 26th Group Army was transferred to the PLAN.

The PLAN Marine Corps participates in multiple international exercises, including participation in RIMPAC, and engages with USMC in mutual training and friendly cultural exchanges during the Bush and Obama administrations as part of its "tranquillity and good order" policy according to its navy chief. However, starting in the Trump administration the PLA Navy and PLANMC are dis-invited from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific and the US Marines are trained to fight against the PLANMC.

The PLAN Marine Corps is subordinate to the PLA Navy Headquarters, the Joint Staff Department and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC). 12,000 marines are based in the South China Sea. It is believed in the time of war, up to 28,000 marines can be mobilized. These two brigades possess combined arms units, including armor, artillery, missile, air defense, and logistics. The two brigades are the 1st Marine Brigade and 164th Marine Brigade – both based in Zhanjiang (South Sea Fleet); 12,000 personnel. Each Brigade comprises all or most of the following:

* 1 armored regiment (1 x tank Battalion and 2 x armored rifle battalions with ZTD-05 Amphibious Tank Assault Vehicle and ZBD-05 IFV Amphibious Infantry Fighting Vehicle)
* 2 marines battalions
* 1 howitzer battalion with PLZ-07 self-propelled howitzers
* 1 missile battalion (HJ-8 & HJ-73 ATGMs and HN-5 SAMs)
* 1 mixed engineer and chemical battalion
* 1 signal/communications and guard battalion
* 1 field maintenance battalion

Peoples Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps conducts amphibious Assault drill 2Chinese ZTD-05 amphibious light tank (Picture source: PLA via Indian Research Centre Twitter account)