The People’s Liberation Army Special Operations Forces are a sub-branch of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Ground Force that specializes in rapid reaction combat in a limited regional war under high-tech conditions. An estimated 50,000 PLA troops are in the Special Operations Forces.
The PLA first became interested in modern special warfare in the mid-1980s when it was shifting from the “People’s War” to “fighting a local war under hi-tech conditions”. The PLA planners believed that the next war would be a short, fast-pace conflict on the periphery rather than a total war in the Chinese territory, and conventional Infantry-orientated ground forces in their mass numbers could no longer meet the requirements. Additionally, the PLA also learned its lesson from the 1979 and 1980s border conflicts with Vietnam, where Vietnamese Special Forces caused substantial trouble to the Chinese forces.