With a series of edicts, speeches and martial ceremonies, President Xi Jinping has over the past six months unveiled China’s biggest military overhaul since the aftermath of the Korean War.
The plan seeks to transform the 2.3-million-member People’s Liberation Army, which features 21st-century hardware but an outdated, Soviet-inspired command structure, into a fighting force capable of winning a modern war. China is shifting from a “large country to a large and powerful one,” Xi explained in November. The restructuring will be a major focus of the country’s new defense budget, which will be announced Saturday as the annual National People’s Congress gets under way in Beijing . . .
Here are the key elements of Xi’s plan:
The first piece of the overhaul — announced by Xi during a grand military parade through Tiananmen Square on Sept. 3 — calls for eliminating 300,000 PLA personnel by 2017. While Xi presented the cutbacks as proof of China’s commitment to peace, they’ll largely target non-combat personnel and should make the country’s forces more focused and efficient . . .
Advanced military actions such as intercepting rival aircraft, carrying out drone strikes and using special forces to extract hostages, demand the sort of close collaboration China’s army-centric military has lacked. Xi intends to fix that by reorganizing the armed forces into five branches under a joint-command structure modeled after that of the U.S. (Read more from “Inside China’s Plan for a Military That Can Counter U.S. Muscle” HERE)