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Xi Jinping looks to make Chinese military a ‘world-class’ force

Less than a month after President Xi Jinping began his second five-year term in office setting a new deadline for the PLA to complete its modernisation, the Chinese military has taken measures to become a “world-class” force in line with his vision, official media reported here.

China will basically complete modernisation of its national defence and armed forces by 2035 and fully build the army into a “world-class force” by the mid-21st century, Xi said in his report to the once-in-a-five-years Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) held here last month.

The CPC Congress endorsed a second five-year term for Xi as head of the party, presidency and the military.

Following this, the Central Military Commission (CMC) issued a guideline on November 5 to affirm the absolute leadership of the party over the army, requiring that troops be absolutely loyal, honest and reliable to Xi, who is also chairman of the CMC, a report by state-run Xinhua news agency said.

The CMC headed by Xi is the overall high command of the 2.3 million People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest.

The CMC said the armed forces should deeply and comprehensively implement a system in which the chairman of the CMC has overall responsibility for the military. The system was added to the CPC Constitution at the Congress.

The top priority of maintaining the authority of the leadership core is to safeguard the CMC chairperson responsibility system, Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the CMC, wrote in the People’s Daily on Tuesday.

“In the face of profound and complex changes at home and abroad, along with fierce ideological struggles, it’s a fundamental issue for our military to maintain its original nature, tenet and colour,” Xu said in the article.

Noting that the political environment in the military has improved, Xu ordered troops to strengthen their consciousness in maintaining political integrity, thinking in big-picture terms, following the leadership core and keeping in alignment.

Xi has also been instructing troops to increase their readiness to win wars.

During his inspection tour to the CMC joint battle command centre on November 3, Xi reiterated the need for the armed forces to improve their combat capability and readiness for war.

“The capability to win is strategically important in safeguarding national security, and strengthening that capability and combat readiness in the new era would provide strategic support to the realisation of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation,” Xi said, urging progress in joint operation command systems and training conducted under combat conditions.

To sharpen the military’s fighting capacity, reforms have been made in the past few years, including the establishment of the PLA Army General Command, PLA Rocket Force and PLA Strategic Support Force.

The four general departments were reorganised into 15 agencies of the CMC, and five theatre commands have replaced the seven military area commands.

The CMC released a regulation on Monday to standardise benefits for military officials, including offices, housing, cars and medical services, in its latest move to govern the military with strict discipline, Xinhua reported.

To curb decadence in the military and make the troops more combat-ready, the CMC issued an alcohol ban in late September, listing 11 occasions on which soldiers and officers are not allowed to drink.

In the past five years, fighting corruption in the military has been a focus of Xi’s sweeping anti-graft crackdown, it said.

Official media reports earlier said 13,000 military officials have been punished in the anti-corruption drive.

These include Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong, both former top generals and vice chairmen of the CMC. Guo was convicted of accepting bribes and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2016, while Xu died of cancer in 2015 before he could face trial.

“The building of work style and the fight against corruption in the military have gained major achievements,” Xu Qiliang wrote in the article.


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