People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force
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People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force
People's Liberation Army
Strategic Support Force
Emblem of People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force.png
Emblem of the People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force
FoundedDecember 2015
Country China
Allegiance Communist Party of China[1]
TypeSpace force and cyber force
RoleSpace warfare, cyberwarfare, electronic warfare, psychological warfare
Part of People's Liberation Army
ColorsGreen, Blue, Red and Black
March"We Are the Knife Point, We Are the Iron Fist" (,)
CommanderGeneral Ju Gansheng
Political CommissarGeneral Li Wei
Chief of StaffAdmiral Li Shangfu
BadgeThe emblem of PLASSF

The People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force (PLASSF or SSF ; Chinese: ?) is the space-, cyber-, and electronic-warfare force and the 5th branch of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA).[2][3][4] It was established in December 2015 as part of the first wave of the Chinese military reforms.[5][6][7] Aimed to improve the army's ability to fight what China terms "informationized conflicts" (-Xìnx? huà zhànzh?ng) and enhance the PLA's power projection capabilities in space and cyberspace, the SSF is a new force designed to allegedly break stovepipes in the intelligence sharing and coordination departments of the different branches.[8]


At the Fall 2015 Central Military Commission's (CMC) commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the "War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression" and the "World Anti-Fascist War," CCP general secretary and CMC chairman Xi Jinping announced sweeping reforms to the structure of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the state security apparatus. On 22 December 2015, the Chinese PLA newsletter, "Liberation Army Daily," reported that as part of the joint military exercises taking place that same year, strategic and logistical support forces were included in those exercises along with Intelligence and other high profile units among the Central Military Commission.[]

On 31 December 2015, the PLA Strategic Support Force held its first annual meeting at the Bayi Building in Beijing. In attendance were the CMC leadership and leaders of the PLA Ground Force and Rocket Force. CMC Chairman Xi Jinping was also in attendance, giving out military flags and instructional speeches, along with CMC Vice Chairmen and CPC Political Department members Fan Changlong and Xu Qiliang. Fan Changlong read out the CMC's orders and decisions issued by Chairman Xi on the formation of the PLA's leadership and forces, while Vice Chairman Xu Qiliang presided over the meeting.

On 1 January 2016, the next day, Yang Yujun of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense issued a statement on the new Strategic Support Force describing it as formed by the "functional integration" of various support forces that are strategic, basic, and supportive. Another expert, Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo of the PLA Navy, noted:

"The major mission of the PLA Strategic Support Force is to give support to the combat operations so that the PLA can gain regional advantages in the space warfare and cyber warfare domains, and to ensure smooth operations."[5][9][10]

Specifically, the objectives of the strategic support force were to include:[]

  • target acquisition
  • reconnaissance
  • undertaking daily navigation operations, space reconnaissance, and management of Beidou satellites
  • undertaking electronic and cyber warfare and countermeasures

Unlike the PLA Rocket Force, the Strategic Support Force is more dedicated to 5th Generation Information Warfare and is structured to engage in the information space, with emphasis on electronic countermeasures, network offense and defense, satellite management, and some of the functions of logistical supply and dispatch.[]

On 24 July 2019, the government white paper "China's National Defense in a New Era" published by the State Council Information Office stated:

"The strategic support force is a new type of combat force to maintain national security and an important growth point for new combat capabilities, including battlefield environment protection, Information Assurance and Communication Security, Information Security, testing and integrating emerging technologies, among other things."[]


The PLASSF leadership and administrative officials are stationed at their headquarters in the Haidian District of Beijing; the functional departments and leadership of the subordinate units are stationed here. PLASSF oversees all units responsible for psychological warfare, information warfare, space warfare, cyberwarfare, and electronic warfare operations formerly under the former General Staff Department (including the cyber espionage capabilities of the former Third Department, the electronic support measures from the former Fourth Department, and the space-based ISR systems and Aerospace Reconnaissance Bureau and Satellite Main Station), General Political Department, and General Armaments Department (including the launch, telemetry, tracking, and control facilities and research and development organisations).[3] It is believed to have at least 5 departments, though debate has existed in Western commentary over the existence of a possible sixth department dedicated to equipment.

Functional Departments

The all Functional Departments and Subordinate Departments are headquartered in theand are mostly for administering over the Strategic Support Force.

General Staff Department () - Under the direction of Admiral Li Shangfu, Chief of Staff. His Deputy Chiefs of Staff are Major General Gen. Sun Bo and Major General Zhang Minghua. Subordinated to the General Staff Department is the PLASSF Xingcheng "Rehabilitation" Center.

Political Department () - Under the direction of Lieutenant General Feng Jianhua. His Deputy Directors are Major General Chen Jinrong and Major General Huang Qiusheng. Subordinated to the Political Department is the Political Bureau.

Disciplinary Inspection Committee (?) - (aka the Supervisory Committee) Lead by Lieutenant General Yang Xiaoxiang, Secretary, the role of the Disciplinary Inspection Committee is to conduct surveillance and conduct "disciplinary inspections" on PLASSF members in accordance with Article 68 of the March 2018 "Supervision Law" passed by the 13th National People's Congress. The position of Secretary was originally held by Deputy Political Commissar Lu Jiancheng (2016 - 2019). Subordinated to the Disciplinary Inspection Committee is the Disciplinary Inspection Service.

Subordinate Units

SSF Electronic Countermeasures Brigade () - Little is known about this unit.

PLA Strategic Support Force Special Medical Center (?) - Stationed at No. 9 Anxiang Beili, Deshengmen Wai, Chaoyang District of Beijing, it was founded in 1971 as the 514th Hospital of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense. In 1997, it became the General Hospital of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense. In March 1999, it was redesignated as the 306th PLA Hospital. After the 2015 reforms, the Strategic Support Force assumed authority over this hospital. The hospital Dean is Major General Gu Jianwen and its Politcal Commissar is Major General Zhang Yucai.

Unit 61716 - People's Liberation Army Trinity Base () - (aka Base 311) Stationed at No. 15 Yuandang Street, Baima North Road in the Gulou District of Fuzhou in the Fujian Province, the Trinity Base was founded in 2005 under the control of the PLA Political Department to conduct "three wars" operations against Taiwan. The "three wars" are "Public Opinion Warfare, Psychological Warfare, and Legal Warfare." In 2011, the base was designated as the focal point of all psychological warfare efforts against Taiwan, including assisting in broadcasting propaganda programs thru the Chinese radio stations like Huayi Broadcasting () and Voice of the Strait. The base itself is also on social media.[11] In 2016, PLASSF assumed control of the base. The base is under the direction of Political Commissar, Major General Mei Huabo.

PLASSF Military Colleges and Universities

PLASSF Aerospace Engineering University (?) - Located in Beijing, under the leadership and management of the Space Systems Department, the University was founded in June 1978 as a "Cadre School" under the National Defense Science and Technology Commission. In 1982, the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense assumed authority over the school, and, in 1986, upgraded the school to Command and Technology College. In 1999, the PLA General Armaments department assumed authority and renamed the school to Chinese PLA Equipment Command and Technology Academy. It remained this way until 2011, when the name was shortened to Equipment Academy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. In 2016, as part of the military reforms, the academy was transferred to the Training Management Division of the Central Military Commission, where it was rebuilt into the Aerospace Engineering University under the Strategic Support Force. Today, the university has more than 20 undergraduate majors, 12 graduate programs, 5 doctoral programs, and 3 post-doctoral research stations. The Dean is Major General Zhou Zhixin and the Political Commissar is Major General Ji Duo.

PLASSF Information Engineering University (?)[12] - Located in the cities of Zhengzhou and Luoyang in Henan Province, under the leadership and management of the Network Systems Department, the school was founded in October 1971 by the 5th Radio Engineering Brigade of the PLA 1st Foreign Language School into the Chinese PLA Institute of Engineering and Technology in Zhangzhou. In January 1981, the Chinese PLA Luoyang University of Foreign Languages Department of Applied Mathematics and Department of Information Processing were transferred to the Institute of Engineering and Technology. In July 1986, the name was change to the Chinese PLA Information Engineering Institute. In June 1991, CPC General Secretary Jiang Zemin wrote the following inscription for the school: "Promote the school spirit of strict diligence, unity and dedication, and establish a distinctive and high-level key science and engineering military academy." In 1995, it was identified by the Central Military Commission as one of the 17 key construction academies of the PLA. The following institues are subordinate to IEU:

  • S&T Research Department ()
  • Training Department ()
  • Command Information Systems Academy ()
  • Electronic Technology Academy ()
  • Encryption Engineering Academy ()
  • Foreign Language Academy () in Luoyang
  • Geospatial Information Academy ()
  • Cyberspace Security Academy ()
  • Navigation and Aerospace Target Engineering Academy ()
  • Command Officer Basic Education Academy (?)
  • Blockchain Academy (; located in Shenzhen).

Space Systems Department

Stationed at the Haidian District of Beijing, the PLASSF Space Systems Department (SSD) is the consolidation of all PLA's space-based C4ISR systems. As of 2018 it's headed by Lieutenant General Shang Hong, with Lieutenant General Kang Chunyuan acting as political commissar. The Space Systems Department also oversees all of the space launch bases including:

Unit 63600 - 20th Experimental Training Base (?) / Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (?) - (a.k.a. Dongfeng Base or Dongfeng Aerospace City) Stationed at Bugeyin Arila in Dongfeng Town in the Ejin Banner of the Alxa League of Inner Mongolia, Jiuqian was one of the first aerospace launch facilities ever constructed in China. Along with conducting air reconnaissance, it is the main base for testing and launching "Long March" series of carrier rockets, missiles, various test satellites meant for low and medium orbits, application satellites, and manned spacecraft. The base is also responsible for the main recovery missions.

Unit 63650 - 21st Experimental Training Base () / Malan Nuclear Test Base (?) - Stationed at the western ends of Lop Nur and Nairenkeer Townships of Heshuo County in the Bayingoleng Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Base 21 serve as a nuclear launch and test site. It is the home of military unit designated in declassified literature as Unit 0673. According to Chinese public statements, the Base hasn't conducted nuclear weapons testing, but there is no way to verify. Aside from that, it is the home to various Scientific and Technological research projects.

Unit 63680 - 23rd Experimental Taining Base () / Aerospace Ocean Survey Ship Base () - Stationed at Jiangyin City in the Jiangsu Province, the base was established in 1978 as a harbor for Yuanwang Class Aerospace Survey Ships used to track missiles and rocket launches as part of the testing of the Dongfeng series ballistic missiles. The base is under the direction of Major General Wu Jingao with Major General Zhuang Yan as his Political Commissar.

25th Experimental Taining Base () / Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (?) - Stationed in Kelan County of Xinzhou City in the Shanxi Province, the launch base was constructed in March 1967 under Project 3201 as a response to the breakdown of Sino-Soviet relations. The base was constructed deep in the mountains and deliberately misnamed as part of the Chinese strategy of "backing, concealment, and dispersion." The site mostly served as a nuclear missile site and as a detachment of Jiuqian until its breakaway in January 1976. The launch center was opened to international commercial launches in the 1990s with its launch of two U.S. Iridium satellites into orbit.

Unit 63750 - 26th Experimental Training Base () / Xi'an Satellite Measurement and Control Center (?) - Stationed at No. 28 Xianning East Road in Xi'an City of Shaanxi Province, the base was established in September 1975 as a missile measurement and tracking base and is now the operations and control center for China Aerospace and the backup flight control center for Beijing Aerospace. They conduct launch monitoring, tracking and measurement, as well as launch recovery.

Unit 63790 - 27th Experimental Training Base () / Xichang Satellite Launch Center () - Headquartered on the Hangtian North Road of Xichang City in the Sichuan Province. It is also home to the Wenchang Aerospace Launch Site.

Unit 63880 - 33rd Experimental Training Base () / Luoyang Electronic Equipment Test Center () - Stationed at Luoyang in the Henan Province, Base 33 serves as the metrology and instrument measurement center. They also conduct Astronomical mapping and surveying. This base is the most restricted bases in China and was off-limits to foreigners until the 1980s during the decommission of various military installations. However, it is still in use and under the control of the CMC Equipment Development Department.

  • China Aerodynamics Research and Development Center (29th Testing and Training Base)
  • Space Telemetry, Tracking, and Control
  • Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center
  • Telemetry, Tracking, and Control Stations
  • Aerospace Reconnaissance Bureau
  • Satellite Main Station
  • Aerospace Research and Development Center
  • Project Design Research Center
  • Astronaut Corps

Network Systems Department

The PLASSF Network Systems Department [zh] (NSD) is the integration of all PLA information and cyberwarfare capabilities and is believed to have taken over many of the capabilities previously held by the Third and Fourth Departments of the PLA. As of 2018 it was headed by Lieutenant General Zheng Junjie, with Lieutenant General Chai Shaoling as political commissar, both of whom are also serving members of the 13th National People's Congress.

Unit 61398 (?61398) / "APT 1" - Stationed in the Pudong District of Shanghai, Unit 61398 is rumored to be a secret military hacker unit within the Second Bureau of the CMC Political Department. Though it is recognized by the U.S. Government, its existence has been repeatedly denied by the Chinese Government.

Unit 61486 (?61486) / "Putter Panda" - Unit 61486 was the designation for the Twelfth Bureau of the CMC Political Department that was caught committing cyber espionage on American, European, and Japanese aerospace companies with the intention to steal secrets.

Unit 61726 (?61726) / "Sixth Bureau" () - Stationed in the Wuchang District of Wuhan in the Hubei Province, is a "hacker" force dedicated to cyberwarfare specifically targeting Taiwan.[13][14][15][16] They are directly subordinate to both the sixth bureau of the CMC Political Work Department and the SSF Network Systems Department. They originated as Unit 57316 stationed in Jingmen before transferring their headquarters to Wuhan sometime in the early 2000s. The Sixth Bureau has offices all over Central China, including:Xiamen City in Fujian Province, Ziling Village of Jingmen City and Xiangyang City in Hubei Province, Nanchang City and the Xiaobu Township in Ningdu County of Ganzhou in Jiangxi Province, and Panlong District of Kunming City in Yunnan Province.[17] It is suspected that the Nanchang detachment is a training detachment. The sixth bureau is also suspected to be embedded in the National Cyber Security College of Wuhan University and its associated research centers and laboratories.[18]

Unit 61786 (?61786) / "Eighth Bureau" () - Stationed at the foot of the Yan Mountain Range, is an information technology research institute responsible for intercepting communications from Russia and Central Asia.[19] In 2011, it was commended as the most talented development unit in the PLA.

NSD 56th Research Institute (?56) / Jiangnan Institute of Computing Technology () - Stationed in Wuxi City in the Jiangsu Province. Founded in June 1951, it was the first computer science and engineering research institute for the PLA. They also conduct research on network systems and communications, information assurance and cybersecurity. This is the home to China's first supercomputer, its first GHz computer, and its first 100 GHz computer. By the 2010s, the institute became the computing powerhouse of the PLA, with automated PCB production lines, CAD software development, a research library and full scale living facilities. As of 2016 the institute employs more than 200 Senior Engineers along with graduate and doctoral students from all over China.

NSD 58th Research Institute () - Stationed in Beijing.

PLA 316th Hospital (?) - Stationed in Beijing.

List of military bases under the NSD:[12]



Rank group General/flag officers Field/senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
China PLA Strategic Support Force
Lieutenant General
Major General
Colonel Commandant
Lieutenant Colonel
First Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Officer Cadet













Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
PLA Strategic Support Force
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Y?jí j?nshìzh?ng

Èrjí j?nshìzh?ng

S?njí j?nshìzh?ng

Sìjí j?nshìzh?ng







  1. ^ "The PLA Oath" (PDF). I am a member of the People's Liberation Army. I promise that I will follow the leadership of the Communist Party of China...
  2. ^ PLA Aerospace Power: A Primer on Trends in China's Military Air, Space, and Missile Forces Air University
  3. ^ a b PLA Strategic Support Force: The 'Information Umbrella' for China's Military The Diplomat 1 April 2017
  4. ^ The Strategic Support Force: Update and Overview Jamestown Foundation China Brief Volume: 16 Issue: 19
  5. ^ a b "China Takes Bold Steps Toward Military Reform" (11 January 2016)
  6. ^ Costello, John; McReynolds, Joe (2018). China's Strategic Support Force: A Force for a New Era. Washington, DC: National Defense University Press. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ Mattis, Peter (March 3, 2017). "China Reorients Strategic Military Intelligence" (PDF). Jane's Intelligence Review. Retrieved 2020.
  8. ^ Ni, Adam (May 29, 2019). "The People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force: Update 2019". Retrieved 2021.
  9. ^ Expert: PLA Strategic Support Force a key force to win wars
  10. ^ Hacking Diplomatic Cables Is Expected. Exposing Them Is Not
  11. ^ Beauchamp-Mustafaga, Nathan; Drun, Jessica. "Exploring Chinese Military Thinking on Social Media Manipulation Against Taiwan". Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 2021.
  12. ^ a b Burton, Rachel (25 September 2018). "The People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force: Leadership and Structure" (PDF). Project 2049 Institute.
  13. ^ "Public Bidding Announcement for the Finalist Project of Hardware and Electrical Engineering of the 61726 Troops (?61726?)". China Government Procurement Network (?). 3 May 2018. Archived from the original on 14 September 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  14. ^ "Critical Node: Taiwan's Cyber Defense and Chinese Cyber-Espionage". The Jamestown Foundation. 5 December 2013. Archived from the original on 22 April 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  15. ^ "How does Taiwan respond to China's gray zone actions (Liao Hongxiang)". Apple Daily. 14 September 2020. Archived from the original on 14 September 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  16. ^ Lindsay, Jon R.; Cheung, Tai Ming; Reveron, Derek S. (2015). China and Cybersecurity: Espionage, Strategy, and Politics in the Digital Domain. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-020127-2.
  17. ^ Stokes, Mark A.; Lin, Jenny; Hsiao, Russell (11 November 2011). "The Chinese People's Liberation Army Signals Intelligence and Cyber Reconnaissance Infrastructure" (PDF). Project 2049 Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 September 2020.
  18. ^ "China's attack on Taiwan's Internet base camp hides in Wuhan University ( )". Liberty Times (Taiwan). 9 March 2015. Archived from the original on 12 December 2018. Retrieved 2020.
  19. ^ "Military secrets revealed by Xi Jinping's circular ()". Ming Pao (Hong Kong). Archived from the original on 24 August 2016. Retrieved 2016.

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