China aims at modern fighting force with drastic overhaul of People’s Liberation Army

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President Xi Jinping meets navy personnel in Sanya. PLA reform will boost the navy’s role relative to the army’s. Photo: Xinhua

 

President may use boost from Beijing parade to unveil revamp which would cut personnel and put army, navy and air force on equal footings

China is close to unveiling a drastic plan to transform the world’s largest army into a nimble, modern force on par with the best of the West.

“Many people in the PLA expect to see some major announcements after the parade,” Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said. “Parades like this boost morale and patriotism. It will provide Xi a good opportunity to announce his ambitious plans on how to transform the PLA into a real modern army capable of winning wars.”

For years, China’s military leaders have been in intense discussions on how to change its Soviet-era organisational structure to a system adaptable enough to meet the ever-changing demands of modern warfare. The new structure will bring in more supervision and control to prevent corruption, which has demoralised the army and debilitated its fighting capability.

In fact, sources said Xi had deliberately weeded out the corrupt elements in the military before rolling out the reform plan, which the president hopes will fundamentally rejuvenate the PLA. Two former vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission – Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong – have been brought down on corruption charges over the past two years.

With them and their henchmen removed, Xi is now ready to implement his plan.

According to the proposal written by liberal military thinkers and obtained by the South China Morning Post – the overall size of the PLA and armed police would be cut from three million troops to two million. The seven military commands would be regrouped into four strategic zones. The ranks of the local commanders would be downgraded to cut their political influence.

Military experts who read the proposal described it as “the most radical and aggressive reform” in modern China’s history.

Full article: China aims at modern fighting force with drastic overhaul of People’s Liberation Army (South China Morning Post)

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