Chinese and Taiwanese Military Uniforms and Small Arms Compared (1911-2017)

Recently, I came across an interesting video, which shows the evolution of Chinese and Taiwanese (officially Republic of China) uniforms and firearms. It compares them side by side in chronological order. You can watch that video below or scroll down to see the screenshots for a quick reference. The screenshots cover only military uniforms and arms shown in the first half of the video. The second half is about dress uniforms. If the history of uniforms is interesting to you, it worths watching the video to the end.

Interesting to note that at some point Soviet weapons start to dominate in the Chinese army while the Taiwanese armed forces become equipped with American firearm designs.

Note also that China probably had to boost their own firearms industry starting from the collapse of the Soviet Union. You can’t depend on a non-existent state to furnish you with new firearm designs, right? If that is one of the reasons for designing the QBZ family of rifles and other domestic firearms, then the collapse of Soviet Union has really helped the development of Chinese small arms industry.

Although the video is not extremely informative and doesn’t go into details, it is still pretty interesting and entertaining. I hope they’ll make similar videos comparing other countries too. Would be great to see such a video comparing the USA and Soviet Union/Russia or USA and China etc.

Hrachya H

Being a lifelong firearms enthusiast, Hrachya always enjoys studying design, technology and history of guns and ammunition. His knowledge of Russian allows him to translate and make Russian/Soviet/Combloc small arms related information available for the English speaking audience.
Should you need to contact him, feel free to shoot him a message at


  • ostiariusalpha

    The mainland Chinese had been manufacturing their own AK variant since 1956, and they basically stopped getting any useful war materiel from the Russians after the 1961 Sino-Soviet split. In fact, the majority of AK rifles carried by Vietcong and NVA forces were the Chinese made Type 56.

    • DW

      Also, after parting ways with Russia they designed their own non-AK rifle (not directly an AK copy), the Type 81, which internally is more alike a SVD

    • Yenokh Yagoda

      Not true.

      The SU let them make SVD. After 1961.

    • Anonymoose

      That last part is not true. The PRC was actively against North Vietnam for most of the conflict. They had some dealings early on which got them a lot of Type 56s, but by the time the US started getting heavily involved they were transitioning to Soviet AKMs.

      • ostiariusalpha

        If you count Chi-Com support for the Viet Minh in the Indochina War, then you’re incorrect about your first point. By the time the Chinese split from Ho Chi Minh, they had already supplied the NVA with hundreds of thousands of Type 56 rifles. The Soviet supplied AKMs were merely a supplement to that massive inventory, and were only seen in really large numbers in the 70’s; especially in the final, full-on invasion and conquest of the south. Army reports are the source for the Type 56 ratio over AKMs.

        • Budi Utomo

          Nonsense. The Vietnamese distrusted the Chinese AK for good reason. North Vietnam required every MODERN weapon it could get to counter US aircraft such as SAM’s and their radar- which China simply could not supply as it was, and many would argue remains, technologically regressed.

          • ostiariusalpha

            What do service rifles have to do with countering U.S. aircraft? Are you some kind of idiot? Whether the NVA held a high opinion of Chinese small arms or not is irrelevant; the Chinese were their main arms supplier into the early 60’s, therefore the Type 57 was the predominant AK-style arm that was in NVA armories until the late 60’s and early 70’s.

          • Budi Utomo

            That’s not true. Post 1965, USSR supplied 60% and China and Eastern European nations supplied the remaining percentage circa 5% Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, East Germany, approx 35% China. If my other post gets published- it will have the references cited.

      • Budi Utomo

        For the same reason, Vietnam fought a border war which they routed the Chinese in 1979.

    • Budi Utomo

      Rubbish. Read my post above.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Do not call facts rubbish unless you’re a Russian (because facts don’t matter to them). The number of Type 57 rifles are recorded in U.S. Army action reports. They are not up for dispute by your useless opinion.

  • Bob

    The ChiComs pretty much have been making their own arms since the 1950s.

    They made their own Mosin-Nagant M44 Carbine. Called the Type 53 Carbine.
    Their own SKS was the Type 56 Carbine
    Their AK-47 and later AKM was the Type 56 Rifle
    They then developed their own rifle called the Type 63 Rifle. It was an AK pattern rotating bolt in a liner SKS pattern rifle.
    They replaced that with the Type 81 rifle. Which many think is a Chinese AK.
    Their current service rifle is the QBZ-95 and the QBZ-03 (reserve rifle).

    The video might be right on uniforms but on arms…. not so much. The Type 56 Rifle was taken out of mainline service in the 1970s.

    The ROC maid their own M14 pattern rifle. Did the same with the M16A1 and later developed their own pattern of AR inspired piston rifles.

    • SP mclaughlin

      It looks like the Taiwanese soldier does have his proper T86/91 rifle the last couple of shots.

      • Friend of Tibet

        Airsoft model I think, Type81 rifle on the other hand has no airspft model available….

        • mikewest007

          Yep, there’s no airsoft replica of the Type81, and even the Type 97 is awfully hard to get these days.

    • Anonymoose

      The PLA Navy still uses Type 56 rifles, and there are Type 56Cs floating around too. After the PLA switched to the Type 81 for frontline troops they moved most Type 56 rifles to the People’s Armed Police, and once they adopted the QBZ-95 they gave the PAP their Type 81s. The QBZ-03 is just a modernized Type 81. These things are not done in one fell swoop. Adopting new weapons for any force takes time, and more so for a massive force like the PLA and PAP.

      • iksnilol

        The 56C is a grail gun for me. Shortened milled receiver.

        • Anonymoose


          • iksnilol

            I just want one of those with a 25 cm barrel. That combined with the shortened receiver would result in an AK that’s 20-21 cm shorter than a regular one.

    • Budi Utomo

      Reverse engineered or exceeded contractual agreed factory licensing from USSR is not “producing their own”. China did reverse engineer directly the AK which was part of the USSR-Russia and is now the most common firearm in African conflicts. this was not popular with the Russians.
      Nor was their duplication of the Su-33 as Shenyang J-11.
      China in 2004 cancelled their license contract with Sukhoi for assembly of 100 Complete Knock-down Units, claiming they wanted fighters with precision-guided munition capabilities. Then China started selling cut-cost clones of he Su-27- which really pee’d off Russia.
      The same happened under the Hongdu L-15 Falcon cloned after the Yakovlev Yak-130. The Shaanxi Y-9after the AN-12 Cub.
      The Hummvee cloned as the Dongfeng EQ2050 Brave Soldier. the HL03 multiple rocket launcher being a clone fo the Smerch, WZ-501 copied from the BMP1- albeit with lighter armour, and the Hongjian-12 Red Arrow copied directly from the AGM.

      No serious military expecting a military-military conflict purchases Chinese weaponry. Those that do, like Thailand and Sri Lanka, buy Chinese weaponry to keep skills at modern levels for a future scenario in which predict expect state-state peace and minor internal insurgencies or perhaps at most policing territorial waters.
      I suggest you read Janes’ “Indonesian president watches failed firings of Chinese-made C-705 missiles at naval exercise” which outed the pro-Chinese elements and Indonesia immediately placed orders for weapons that work from Sweden and France, without bothering with the usual Transfer of Technology arrangement (procurement of a Harpoon1 replacement was imperative).
      2 C705’s failed from two late model fast-missile boats despite Chinese factory technicians and specialist present. Utter failure.

    • LilWolfy

      Was going to say the same thing. A lot of correct weapons missing that are difficult to access.

  • China has not been aligned with the Soviet Union ever since the year 1960. Following the Sino-Soviet split, the USSR and PRC became political adversaries, and sometimes even direct military enemy – they fought an undeclared, brief but very fierce border war in March/September 1969.

    Hrachya should check his sources…

    • Budi Utomo

      Russia was going to use nuclear weapons. Sadly the Russians felt they may have the US on their door through a re-invigorated ROC charging through a nuked China.

  • ReadyOrNot

    “Would be great to see such a video comparing the USA and Soviet Union/Russia or USA”

    They’ll both be wearing Multicam or some copy version of it in the end.

    • Green Hell

      Some Russian SF’s wear Multicam, not a regular army.

    • Yenokh Yagoda

      Russia has its own camo patterns. See on Camopedia.

    • CavScout

      The Chinese will be as well. They just copy everything, to bolster national pride, because they plan to fight us in the future. We should kill them all now, save our kids or grandkids from having to.

      • Budi Utomo

        There are many who share that opinion in Asia.

    • Budi Utomo

      Russiyacam vs MuriCam?

  • Friend of Tibet

    China are catching up extremely fast. Taiwan on the other hand is stuck at 2000s due to extreme budget issue.

    10 years ago if you look at Taiwan military or domestic SWAT you can tell Mainland is 20 years behind at least, now days you look at Mainland’s SWAT and military spec-ops, 80% of them are ahead of Taiwan in gears.

    • burningwar

      The difference is China has had to use their “SWAT” teams to combat terrorists* in the past few decades. Taiwan for the past two decades, all things considered on a micro scale, has been relatively peaceful.

      * yeah, I know one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. Regardless, China has had to fight.

      • Warren Ellis

        Eh too many freedom fighters nowadays seem to only be good at killing their fellow citizens (not even LE but just normal people like you and me.)

        Also, I don’t think most people really know about the Uighurs anyways. Hell with the reports about what some of the groups there do, people who have heard of them probably lump them under terrorists anyways.

  • Rock or Something

    I don’t know if this was done on purpose, but their finger trigger discipline seem to get better in the more modern era.

  • Dirt-Torpedo

    Great stuff, well done!

  • Cal S.

    Interesting to see the various derivations of equipment based on who was supplying which side…

  • Anonymoose

    It looks to me like more people have Mosins than should have Mosins in this presentation.

  • J-

    The Hi-Viz green is an interesting choice in color. With the look of the digital camo in the bottom-right, are they getting ready to go to war on Pandora?

  • Ken

    The Type Zhongzhen was a clone of the commercial Mauser Standard Modell, which the German military adapted into the K98k, not a K98 with a straight bolt. The ROC did import plenty of K98s made with parts that were rejected for German military use in the 30s alongside Standard Modells.

  • PersonCommenting

    I wonder how many died fiddling with some lace trying to get more clips out of those bandoleers?

    • noob

      usually the bandoliers aren’t shoelace tied, but instead have a lace loop you can tie off at an adjustable tension and then loop them over an ordinary button under inside of the flap. to open it you flip the button out of the loop and then the pouch pops open. you leave it open because the ammunition is either loose or in a cheap stripper clip and you aren’t bothering to put anything back in the pouch.

      I don’t have a picture but it all went to hell when they started tell people to save and reuse their magazines

  • DW

    Ones does its best bringing a Dadao to a banzai charge.

  • No one

    One thing that’s not really shown is that the Chinese from both factions from the fall of the Qing Dynasty to the formation of the PRC (post 1949) is that aside from German weapons, who they were being supplied weapons from, they also had a great affinity for Czech made weapons and were very fond of them, quite of a few of their post war designs take influence from samples that survived to be looked at.

  • The last three ROC designs look like they would be visible from low orbit.

    • DW

      This is how we make senpai notice us

  • Henry

    Over one hundred years of Chinese militaria, and not a single broomhandle Mauser in sight? Oh the shame.

    • Lying Bastard

      The 1938 PLA guy seems to have a C96 holstered and the traditional Chinese ammo belt for it

  • Rogertc1

    Interesting. China was behind the curve for many years with little Western influence accepted. Look how long they used wood closures on mag holders.

  • BraveNewWhirled

    They’re all the same guy!

  • CavScout

    This will help when it’s time to kill them all.

  • jcitizen

    Amazingly haven’t fought each other every since 1949!

  • Zebra Dun

    I see a marked difference in Uniforms and weapons moving towards a common pattern which leads me to believe they are possibly reaching an agreement on Reunification.

  • dlh0

    I can sympathize. Took me a long time to get over that.

    • Despicable REM1875 ✓certified

      No armbands as if that helps

  • Budi Utomo

    I wonder why the pale blue- did this have some Buddhist or Imperial connotation? Maybe some influence from France?
    But interesting to see the German then American influence re Taiwan and USSR influence on the CCP armed wing. Please note the PLA is not a Chinese army, but the armed wing of the CCP, whereas the Taiwanese army or ROCAis a true non-political army (though it may be prone to political preference- most armies orientate to the conservative side- tend to favour defence expenditure (better quarters, facilities, toys and comforts for soldiers) vs reduction in defence for welfare (such as UK, Australia, Canada, NZ).

  • Kenneth Schmidt

    Notice the sword used in the forties. The Japanese won most of the battles, but the thing that scared them the most was Chinese raiding parties armed with a combination of swords and stocked broomhandle Mausers.