July 13, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9443

Popular Chinese Military Media Outlet 'Military Express': 'China's Training Of Officers For Foreign Armies Is An Important Means Of Realizing Its Foreign Strategy'

July 13, 2021
China | Special Dispatch No. 9443

An article published by the popular Chinese military media outlet Military Express on June 6, 2021 examined China's longstanding practice of providing military training to personnel from the armed forces of other countries, such as Qatar and several African countries.

The article stated that "China's efforts in training foreign military students" is a strategic choice with long-term benefits, as it allows China to cultivate foreign elites to develop favorable views towards Beijing.

Below is the article: [1]

Chinese soldiers in Qatar (Source:

'Chinese Military Academies Have Been Training Officers From Foreign Armies For A Long Time'

"In some areas of Pukou District in Nanjing [the capital of Jiangsu province], nearby residents can often see a strange scene: One by one, foreign officers in People's Liberation Army (PLA) uniform speaking less standard Chinese shopping and making phone calls in the nearby supermarket. Local residents may have been used to this, but if some unknown netizens were to see it, they would be surprised. What? Is the PLA still recruiting foreigners as soldiers?lll

"In fact, these 'foreign soldiers' are all international military students that China is training for foreign armies... Chinese military academies have been training officers from foreign armies for a long time...

"In order to support Vietnam in the wars against France and the U.S., China spent the most effort training the Vietnamese People's Army. The grassroots forces of the Vietnamese People's Army were trained in China. The grassroots officers and soldiers were generally trained at the Guilin Infantry School and Kunming Infantry School (later Guilin Army Academy and Kunming Army Academy), while senior officers were trained at the PLA Military Affairs College (later changed to National Defense University)...

"In addition to the Vietnam Army, the Tanzanian National Defense Force, now known as the East African Liberation Army, is also a good student of the PLA. After Tanzania became independent in 1961, it sent a large number of military students to China. Not only did they study tactics and weaponry in China, but the PLA's routine service regulations for barracks and drill orders even moved to Tanzania... In addition to the army, Tanzania's navy and air force were also established with China's help... The Tanzanian army learned the square parade from China, but also learned relatively complex tactics such as infantry-artillery coordination. In Africa, where 'fighting equals shooting indiscriminately,' [the Tanzanian Army] can be rated as a first-class, strong army.

"In the Uganda-Tanzania war, the Tanzanian army defeated not only the Ugandan army in a single battle, but also defeated Gaddafi's army that came to help [Uganda] in the fight. In a single battle, it gained the illustrious name of the East African Liberation Army. After 1979, with reform to the mode of foreign military assistance, the PLA's foreign training work shifted to primarily sending experts to the recipient countries for on-site training, supplemented by accepting foreign military cadets for training in China...

Chinese PLA soldier training Qatari soldiers (Source: Dingsheng Military via Sina Weibo, 2017)

Chinese military training a soldier from a foreign army. (Source:

'These Foreign Military Students Have A Rare Opportunity To Get Close To The Military Of A Major Power'

"Up till now, more than 130 units of the People's Liberation Army have undertaken foreign training tasks. In recent years, [the training of foreign soldiers] has been done predominately at the International Defense College of the National Defense University and at the Nanjing Army Command College. Of these, the National Defense University trains mainly senior military officers from other countries...The Nanjing Army Command College trains mainly middle-level and grassroots army officers from foreign armed forces...

"In addition to the two above-mentioned academies, the Air Command College, Naval Engineering University, Air Force Engineering University, and PLA Artillery Academy and other professional and technical academies also have their own training missions. They train mainly foreign military arms command and professional technical officers...

"To the majority of students from third world countries, Chinese military academies are more attractive than Western military academies. American and European military academies they have a deep history, high technical level and teaching level, and have trained world-class generals, but are not so good at admissions. Western military academies often have a lot of political conditions for admitting students, and if a country is not close to the West politically, then it is impossible [for its students] to study there. Even if one does enroll, they may be discriminated against by classmates...

"Chinese military academy does a better job in this regard. There are no political conditions attached here. Foreign military students here learn Chinese strategies and tactics, and also learn to operate Chinese weaponry by themselves. Chinese people are quite friendly to them.

"Coupled with the rapid development of the Chinese military in recent years and the rapid improvement of its technical equipment, these foreign military students have a rare opportunity to get close to the military of a major power.

Foreign military cadets at the Nanjing Army Command College (Source:

'China Is Bound To Attract More Foreign Students To Study In The Country'

"... Some people may ask: What is the use of China's efforts in training foreign military students? In fact, this is a win-win strategic choice.

"Third World countries are generally relatively backward, and students who can study in China are mostly local military and political elites, or descendants of notable families. After they have studied and returned to their country, they have a high probability of becoming the top military and political leaders of the local country. This is very beneficial [and an opportunity] for China to expand its overseas influence and corresponding armaments exports...

"For example, former Namibian President [Sam] Nujoma studied at the Nanjing Army Command College. Here, Nujoma made great progress in political knowledge and military literacy. After returning to Namibia, Nujoma organized an army and began armed struggle using Chinese guerrilla tactics. Finally, after Namibia became independent, Nujoma was elected as the first president because of his great feats...

"At present, China is mining uranium and oil in Namibia, building a container terminal, and setting up an aerospace observation and control station that is crucial to China. China also refurbished two retired 037 [submarine chaser] 'battleships' and gave them to Namibia free of charge...

"China's training of officers for foreign armies is an important means of realizing its foreign strategy and safeguarding its strategic interests. This will not only spread China's excellent military culture, but also bring tangible benefits to China...

"[For example,] compared with the cost of the Chinese long-range guided rockets with which Qatar is equipped, the cost of teaching Qatari soldiers to march is almost negligible.

"Today, with its rapid development of military strength, China is bound to attract more foreign students to study in the country and to lay good foundations for the expansion of China's national interests."


[1], June 6, 2021.

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