What roles did the Chinese military play in fighting COVID-19?

CIKD | Updated: 2020-05-10 09:20

It is important to note that the information provided in this Series is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

Military medics arrive at Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan on Feb 12, 2020. [Photo by Chen Xiaodong/For China Daily]

It is both an international routine practice and a traditional Chinese way to extensively involve the military in the emergency management process. After the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Chinese military rapidly responded to and actively participated in the Mechanism for Joint Prevention and Control, playing important roles in the following aspects:

First, the military treated patients in Hubei province. Since January 24, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Army, Strategic Support Force, Joint Logistics Support Force, and Armed Police Force had selected more than 4,000 medical professionals to support Hubei in three batches. These medical workers undertook tasks in Huoshenshan Hospital, Taikang Tongji (Wuhan) Hospital, Maternal and Child Healthcare Hospital (Optical Valley Branch). For the whole period, the military served 2,856 beds and treated 7,198 patients in total.

Second, the military provided comprehensive support for epidemic containment. It urgently raised and allocated medical masks, protective clothing, positive pressure protective headgear, negative pressure transport compartments and other materials to meet the needs of medical treatment in Wuhan. Air Force transport aircraft flew 30 sorties to Wuhan to airlift medical professionals and supplies. Twenty-eight provincial military command (garrison command) dispatched about 200,000 militiamen every day to assist local authorities in the management of outsiders, sterilization, dissemination of epidemic prevention information and transport of materials.

Third, the military carried out contingency scientific research. The military units concentrated their strength and took a race against time, leading several contingency research projects funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology and sending military medical experts to Wuhan to guide scientific research and prevention and control measures. The Academy of Military Medical Sciences of the PLA Academy of Military Science undertook fast-testing kits research, drug selection and R&D, vaccine research and tracing the origins of the virus.

Finally, the soldiers who join in epidemic control efforts in Hubei also brought hope to the Hubei people in trouble. In the past decades, whenever the country encountered major natural disasters, the military has been the most trusted and most dependent force of the Chinese people. In the fight against COVID-19, the rescue teams of the military arrived in Wuhan first, which greatly stabilized the morale of the people within and outside Hubei and increased the confidence of the people in the epicenter to win the battle against the disease.


[1] Jin Yinan, The Army Played Irreplaceable Roles in the Fight against Epidemic, Sohu Net,, February 5, 2020.

[2] Press Conference of Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council held at 10am March 2,, March 2, 2020.

[3] Complete the Task Successfully, Withdraw!, China Economy Net,, April 16, 2020.

[4] Shen Lan, People’s Liberation Army is the Only Team in the World to Obtain Such Good Performance in the Fight against COVID-19!, 163 Net,, March 5, 2020.

Author: Chen Xiao, Center for International Knowledge on Development

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