President Xi Jinping today called for more reforms in the PLA, the worlds largest military, to cope with changing international situation as tensions deepened over the disputed South China Sea after an international tribunal struck down China’s claims over the area.
“Reform is a comprehensive and revolutionary change, and obstacles and policy issues that may hold back reform measures must be addressed so as to build a strong armed forces commensurate with China’s international status, Xi, who consolidated hold over the military to emerge as the most powerful Chinese leader, said.
The ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), the armed forces have been constantly reformed and improved, he said presiding over a group study seminar of the Politburo of the CPC which focused on national defence and military reform.
“Further military reform is needed to cope with changing international situation and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics,” he was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency today. Xi, 63, who is also the General Secretary of the CPC, called for the building of strong armed forces through military reform.
His comments came as China braced for a more tensions specially with the US in the South China Sea following this months verdict by an international tribunal which struck down Chinas claims over the area. China has rejected the verdict.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan countered Chinas claims over all most all of the South China sea.
The 2.3 million strong People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has undergone major structural changes since Xi took over in 2013 including massive anti corruption campaign in over 40 retired and serving Generals were indicted.
Based on the reform plan, the PLA Army, the PLA Rocket (missile) Force, and the PLA Strategic Support Force were established.
The previous seven military area commands were regrouped into five theatre commands, and the four military departments -- staff, politics, logistics and armaments—were reorganised into 15 agencies.
With those reforms, the PLA has a system in which the Central Military Commission (CMC) is tasked with the overall administration of the armed forces, while theatre commands focus on combat preparedness, and various armed services pursue development, Xi said.
These measures solved some deep-seated problems that many considered unsolvable, Xi said. The reform drive marks a historic change in the organisation and structure of the PLA, he said.
The reforms included measures to trim down the PLA by down sizing it by retiring three lakh troops by next year to make leaner force.