Tag Archives: Xi Jinping

China announces biggest overhaul of military in 60+ years

Xi Jinping, President & head of PLA

Xi Jinping, President & head of PLA

Citing China’s official Xinhua News Agency, Bloomberg News reports on Nov. 26, 2015 that at the end of a three-day meeting in Beijing attended by about 200 top Chinese military officials, President Xi Jinping Xi announced a major overhaul of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the world’s largest army, to make it more combat ready (“an elite combat force”) and better equipped to project force beyond China’s borders by 2020.

Upon taking power in 2012, Xi also became chairman of the Central Military Commission. He is directly managing the overhaul.

“This is the biggest military overhaul since the 1950s,” said Yue Gang, a retired colonel in the PLA’s General Staff Department. “The reform shakes the very foundations of China’s Soviet Union-style military system and transferring to a U.S. style joint command structure will transform China’s PLA into a specialized armed force that could pack more of a punch in the world.”

The overhaul of the PLA will include:

  1. All branches of the PLA would come under a joint military or forces command. In its annual report to the U.S. Congress in May, the Pentagon said creating joint-command entities “would be the most significant changes to the PLA’s command organization since 1949.”
  2. China’s seven military regions may be merged into four. (The PLA’s last major overhaul — carried out under Deng Xiaoping in 1985 — had reduced the number of military regions to 7 from 11.)
  3. The PLA will be leaner by shedding 300,000 troops. (The reform of 1985 reduced the PLA by some 1 million soldiers.)
  4. Stronger top leader: Yue said “The reform enhanced the power of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and its chairman [Xi Jinping] . . . as the former CMC chairman had little real power over the armed forces.” Xi Jinping has made the military one of the targets of his anti-corruption campaign as he consolidates his power over the PLA. Two former CMC vice-chairman were both expelled from the party since Xi took power in 2012, as were dozens of generals accused of everything from embezzling public funds to selling ranks.
  5. Strengthen the Communist Party’s grip on the military by building a new disciplinary structure and a new legal and political committee to make sure the army is under “the rule of law”.

Under Xi, China has been more assertive over territorial claims in the East China Sea and South China Sea, raising tensions with neighbors such as Japan and the Philippines, as well as with the United States. In the South China Sea, the PLA is constructing artificial islands with military installations.  Xi’s policy marks a shift from China’s previous approach under Deng Xiaoping of keeping a low profile and not attracting attention on the world stage.

The overhaul of the Chinese military into “an elite combat force” also includes armed attack robots.

PLA armed attack robotAs reported by Neil Connor for The Telegraph, Nov. 26, 2015, “armed attack” robots that carry rifles and grenade launchers were recently unveiled at the 2015 World Robot Conference in Beijing. China’s state media called the robots the latest line of defense in the fight against “global terror”.

Xinhua news agency said the toy-sized attacker is one of a trio of new “anti-terror” machines that “can coordinate with each other on the battlefield.”

The first model is known as a “reconnaissance” robot, which scouts for poisonous gases, dangerous chemicals and explosives before transmitting its findings back to base. If this initial investigation detects a simple bomb is the source of danger, the second robot model – a small explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) machine – would be sent in to diffuse it.

But with other, more complicated threats, an attacker robot would start its mission, armed with “minor-caliber weapons, recoilless rifles and grenade launchers”. Xinhua said, “With a sighting telescope, a trigger and a safe installed, the attacker can hit its target from a long distance.

The local police force in Beijing was reported to be among the buyers for the three robots, which are priced at 1.5 million yuan (£156,000) for the set by manufacturers HIT Robot Group, based in the northern city of Harbin. The company’s sales manager Chen Deqiang said, “Apart from anti-terror operations, they can also be applied in fire fighting, public security, forestry and agriculture.”

-StMA

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China’s elites in turmoil: 60 officials died of unnatural causes in a year

Many years ago, journalist-writer and China-hand Theodore White was interviewed on TV. He memorably described power struggles in the Chinese Communist Party as akin to the battle of sea monsters beneath the waves. All we outsiders see are the churning water and foam, and an occasional brief glimpse of the monsters’ heads as they emerge from the sea for a gulp of air.

Those sea monsters are at war again. There’s trouble among China’s top leadership.

Writing for The Weekly Standard, May 9, 2014, Abram N. Shulsky and Gary Schmitt claim that about 60 of the country’s officials had died of unnatural causes in the span of a year.

Shulsky is a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute; Schmitt is director of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. The two are coauthors of Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence.

Below is their article, “Trouble at the Top: Chinese officialdom is in turmoil“.

President of the People's Republic China, Xi Jinping

President of the People’s Republic China, Xi Jinping

In little over a year, close to 60 Chinese officials have died of unnatural causes, with most being suicides. The strong suspicion is that this epidemic of mysterious deaths among China’s elite is likely tied to the anticorruption campaign being led by Chinese president and party general secretary Xi Jinping.

Certainly Xi Jinping’s anticorruption drive has reached higher in the bureaucracy than any such effort in decades. Coming on the heels of the prosecution of the high-flying Bo Xilai, a former Central Politburo member and potential rival of Xi, it raises the possibility of elite instability on a level not seen since the Cultural Revolution. Not surprisingly, Chinese newspapers have been told in a secret order from Beijing to stop reporting on suicides by top government and party officials.

Bo XilaiIn a sensational case involving murder, sex, and corruption, former high-flying Chinese princeling Bo Xilai was sentenced to life in prison on Sept. 22, 2013.

Understanding what all this means is one of the U.S. government’s most important strategic intelligence tasks. While China is not, in intelligence terms, a “closed society” along the lines of the former Soviet Union or present-day North Korea, it remains a challenge to get inside the heads, as it were, of China’s elite to understand how they view the challenges they face, how decisions are made, and why.

Needless to say, it has proven difficult to recruit highly placed sources within a country with a pervasive domestic security apparatus like China’s. Effective internal security programs make it difficult, first, to recruit someone and, second, to keep that individual reporting for any length of time without being discovered.

Hence, in the past, when facing such hard targets, a primary source of information—indeed, perhaps the principal source of information at times—was the timely defection. An official who for one reason or another decides to abandon his country and who has had access through his employment or connections to valuable information can reasonably hope to be welcomed in countries that want the information. Although not as valuable as “agents-in-place,” defectors have been crucial sources of intelligence about governments where information is scant.

Given our need for insight into the thinking of the Chinese elite, one would think that this might be an extremely propitious time for this type of informant. Xi Jinping’s anticorruption campaign last year led to the punishment of more than 180,000 party officials for abuse of power and corruption, according to the Chinese Communist party’s own numbers. And while most were minor functionaries, the net has broadened to include senior officers in the party, the military, and the security services.

Zhou Yongkang & Xi Jinping

Zhou Yongkang (l) and Xi Jinping

The most prominent target, Zhou Yongkang, was a former Politburo Standing Committee member, head of the country’s oil company, and director of China’s domestic security agency. Zhou’s reported links with the disgraced Bo Xilai suggest that the apparent rivalry between Xi and Bo is not unconnected with Zhou’s current troubles. One can speculate that Zhou’s circle of bureaucratic allies and clients, as well as members of his family, must be feeling the heat.

As the noose tightens, U.S. intelligence ought to make clear to those Chinese within the government elite that there are safe havens in the West—as long as they are willing to cooperate.

Thanks to China’s economic boom, and the very corruption that Xi now sees as threatening the future of Communist rule in China, many members of the elite have managed to smuggle a massive amount of wealth out of the country. Members of the elite have sent their children to college in the West, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, and are purchasing real estate in Manhattan, London, and elsewhere in increasingly large numbers.

This is clearly an elite worried about its future. U.S. intelligence is in a position to facilitate defectors’ enjoyment of their wealth in relative security. Or, should Langley want to play hardball, it could well be in a position, in certain cases, to increase the danger of those who might want to stay in China by threatening to reveal embarrassing bits of information publicly, such as how much lucre they have stashed away, and where they have hidden it.

One would prefer, of course, to welcome only defectors with high-minded motives, such as a desire to promote the democratization of their homeland. Most, however, will leave for less noble reasons, such as avoiding imprisonment. Some will be motivated by simple greed. It’s the intelligence community’s job to hold its nose, encourage defections, and, in turn, provide policymakers with information and insights about a Chinese ruling elite whose thinking and workings remain far too closed for American security and comfort.

While Russia’s aggressive posture toward Ukraine currently tops our national security agenda, it’s a good bet that, over the longer term, China will remain the foreign country with which the United States will be most concerned. Let’s hope U.S. intelligence is taking advantage of the internal turmoil among the Chinese elite.

H/t CODA’s Sol Sanders

~StMA

Fighting words: China disses U.S. soldiers as worthless

Miles Yu reports for The Washington Times, April 17, 2014:

A casual remark by a U.S. general during a breakfast has made China mad, really mad, and Beijing’s response is far less than civil and humble.

On April 11, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of the 18,000 Marines in Okinawa, Japan, told reporters at a Washington breakfast meeting that the Marines in the Pacific would quickly retake the Senkaku island group and return it to Japan if China were to invade it.

Note: China and Japan both claim ownership of the islands, called Senkaku by Japanese and Diaoyu by Chinese.

U.S. Marines Lt. Gen. John Wissler

U.S. Marines Lt. Gen. John Wissler

The statement was nothing new, as U.S. officials from the president on down repeatedly have told the Chinese that the United States would fulfill its defense treaty obligations to help Japan militarily in any conflict with China over the islands.

What apparently incensed the Chinese was what Gen. Wissler said next: “You wouldn’t maybe even necessarily have to put somebody on that island until you had eliminated the threat, so to speak.”

The Chinese military is supremely confident of its invincibility in the Pacific and is taking Gen. Wissler’s remark as a great insult.

The first return salvos were fired by the Communist Party-owned and operated newspaper Global Times.

“These U.S. warships roaming around here [in the East China Sea] are slowly being considered by us Chinese as our moving targets right in front of our eyes, and the [U.S.] bases in Okinawa as a whole are also no longer a big deal [to us],” said the newspaper in an April 15 editorial.

When facing China, these U.S. soldiers are really not worth anything,” the Global Times said. “If China and the U.S. were to start an all-out fight, these American Marines would be more like a marching band, charging with others, but with their musical instruments in hands. Wissler seems still living in the 20th century. In the new century, he and his comrades in arms should see their own reflections in the water with which they use to wash their own feet.”

Beijing recently issued its broadest definition of “national security” — including virtually all aspects of the communist state’s daily routine and giving new meaning to China as a “national security state.”

Obama bows to China's president Xi Jinping

Obama bows to China’s president Xi Jinping

Billed as the “National Security Path with Chinese Characteristics,” the new definition was announced by Supreme Leader Xi Jinping on April 15 at the first plenary meeting of the newly created, all-powerful National Security Commission.

It is significantly different from other conventional definitions of “national security” around the world in its comprehensive coverage and its dual emphasis on external and internal security.

To begin with, Mr. Xi listed 11 “security” areas in which China’s new national organization will operate and oversee — politics, territories, military, economy, culture, community, science and technology, information, ecology, natural resources and nuclear.

At the top of this security behemoth sits Mr. Xi as chairman of the National Security Commission — a position renders him the world leader with the most institutionalized and centralized powers.

In addition to being China’s national security czar, Mr. Xi is chief of the only real political party in China, president of the world’s most-populous nation, and commander-in-chief of the world’s largest military, while holding additional positions in charge of China’s foreign affairs and economic reforms.

See also:

~StMA

Latest news on Ukraine

US fighter jets, Troops to Poland & lithuania Over Ukraine Crisis

Jennifer Svan and John Vandiver report for Stars and Stripes that on March 10, 2014, Polish government officials said the U.S. military was sending 12 F-16 fighter jets and about 300 service members to their country in response to the situation in Ukraine.

It’s the second time in less than a week that the Pentagon has ordered combat planes and personnel to countries in Eastern Europe amid mounting tensions over Russia’s incursion into Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula. On March 6, the U.S. Air Force sent six F-15C Eagles and more than 60 U.S. airmen from RAF Lakenheath, England, to Lithuania to bolster NATO’s air policing mission over the Baltics.

The Baltic nations and Poland had requested the deployments, officials said.

UN Assembly declares Crimea referendum invalid

On March 27, 2014, by a vote of 100 in favor to 11 against, with 58 abstentions, the 193-member UN Assembly declared that the March 16 referendum in Crimea that led to the peninsula’s annexation by Russia “has no validity” and that the parties should “pursue immediately a peaceful resolution of the situation.”

The UN calls on all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol on the basis of the 16 March referendum “and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status.”

Russia adds more troops along Ukraine border

Jim Garamone reports for the American Forces Press Service, March 27, 2014, that Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said during a news conference Russia is continuing to reinforce units along the eastern and southern Ukraine border.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had told Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week that the Russian troops were massing for regularly scheduled exercises. Kirby said “The minister said it was exercises, no intent to cross the border. They need to live up to that word.”

The AFP reports on March 27, 2014, that Andriy Parubiy, chairman of Ukraine’s national security council, said via a webcast from Kiev that nearly 100,000 Russian forces have massed on Ukraine’s border — a number far higher than US military estimates.

Parubiy said, “Almost 100,000 soldiers are stationed on the borders of Ukraine and in the direction … of Kharkiv, Donetsk. Russian troops are not in Crimea only, they are along all Ukrainian borders. They’re in the south, they’re in the east and in the north.”

CHINA WON’T TAKE SIDES

Harriet Torry reports for the Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2014, that Chinese President Xi Jinping said China had “no private interest in the Ukraine question,” dashing hopes in the West that Beijing could turn more critical of its Russian ally.

~StMA

PLA ordered to commence war against Japan “when appropriate”

PLA officersPeople’s Liberation Army officers

Chan Kai Yee of China Daily Mail, a blog with no connection to Beijing, Feb. 22, 2014, provides the following summary translation of an article in Qianzhan.com ( Forward Looking), a Chinese-language news site headquartered in the city of Shenzhen in China’s southeastern Guangdong province, with offices in Beijing and Hong Kong:

Quite a few people have said that the conflict over the Diaoyus (known as Senkakus in Japan) has passed the stage of oral confrontation and what follows may very probably be direct military conflict.

It is especially so as, relying on US support, Japan is obviously declaring war against China already.

Sources say that China’s Central Military Commission has directly given Chinese military the instruction: “Fight if it is appropriate to fight.”

Sources pointed out that they had received information that Xi Jinping, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, gave a relevant warning to a Japanese economic and trade delegation that recently visited China.

Xi specially pointed out to the delegation when he met them, if Japan kept provoking China and thus gave rise to an unstable situation, it alone has to be responsible for all the consequences.

See also “U.S. Navy intelligence chief: China training for a quick war against Japan.”

~StMA

China’s political elite store their wealth in Caribbean offshore havens

The word “princelings” refers to the children and other family members of China’s political elite.

Leaked financial documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reveal that China’s princelings, who have profited greatly from the economic reforms, are stashing their wealth in offshore havens in the British Virgin Islands. That is not exactly the behavior of an elite who have or inspire confidence in their country.

princelings5 Chinese political leaders and their princelings (click to enlarge)

James Ball reports for The Guardian, Jan. 21, 2014:

The brother-in-law of China’s current president, Xi Jinping, as well as the son and son-in-law of former premier Wen Jiabao are among the political relations making use of the offshore havens, financial records show.

The documents also disclose the central role of major Western banks and accountancy firms, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Credit Suisse and UBS in the offshore world, acting as middlemen in the establishing of companies.

The Hong Kong office of Credit Suisse, for example, established the BVI company Trend Gold Consultants for Wen Yunsong, the son of Wen Jiabao, during his father’s premiership — while PwC and UBS performed similar services for hundreds of other wealthy Chinese individuals.

The disclosure of China’s use of secretive financial structures is the latest revelation from “Offshore Secrets”, a two-year reporting effort led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which obtained more than 200 gigabytes of leaked financial data from two companies in the British Virgin Islands, and shared the information with the Guardian and other international news outlets.

In all, the ICIJ data reveals more than 21,000 clients from mainland China and Hong Kong have made use of offshore havens in the Caribbean, adding to mounting scrutiny of the wealth and power amassed by family members of the country’s inner circle.

As neither Chinese officials nor their families are required to issue public financial disclosures, citizens in the country and abroad have been left largely in the dark about the elite’s use of offshore structures which can facilitate the avoidance of tax, or moving of money overseas. Between $1tn and $4tn in untraced assets have left China since 2000, according to estimates.

China’s rapid economic growth is leading to a degree of internal tension within the nation, as the proceeds of the country’s newfound prosperity are not evenly divided: the country’s 100 richest men are collectively worth over $300bn, while an estimated 300m people in the country still live on less than $2 a day. The Chinese government has made efforts to crack down citizens’ movements aimed at promoting transparency or accountability among the country’s elite.

China InequalityThe confidential records obtained by the ICIJ relate to the incorporation and ownership of offshore companies, which is legal, and give little if any information as to what activities the businesses were used for once established. Offshore companies can be an important tool for legitimate Chinese businesses, especially when operating overseas, due to restrictions and legislation in the country.

One Chinese political family whose financial affairs have not escaped scrutiny — at least in the west — is that of the former premier, Wen Jiabao. In November, the New York Times reported that a consultancy firm operated by Wen’s daughter, who often goes by the name Lily Chang, had been paid $1.8m by the US financial services giant JPMorgan.

The payment has become one of the targets of a probe by US authorities into the activities of JPMorgan in China, including an examination of the firm’s hiring practices, which are alleged to have included the deliberate targeting of relatives of influential officials.

However, the ICIJ files reveal the role of the BVI’s offshore secrecy in obscuring Chang’s links with her consulting firm, Fullmark Consultants. The company was set up in the BVI by Chang’s husband, Liu Chunhang, in 2004, and he remained as sole director and shareholder until 2006, when he took a job in China’s banking regulation agency.

Nominal ownership of the firm was transferred at that time to Zhang Yuhong, a Wen family friend, who the New York Times reported had connections with the Wen family’s business interests.

The company established for Chang’s brother Wen Yunsong, with the aid of Credit Suisse, was dissolved in 2008, with little hint as to its purpose or activities in the two years it was operational. One purpose for such companies is to allow for the establishment of bank accounts in the company’s name, a legal measure that nonetheless makes tracing of assets a more complicated task.

No members of the Wen family, nor Zhang, responded to any of multiple approaches for comment, made over a period of several weeks by ICIJ reporters.

However, in a recent letter dated December 27th apparently sent to a Hong Kong columnist amid public anti-corruption probes into other former officials, Wen Jiabao is reported to have denied any wrongdoing during his premiership, or in how his family obtained their reported wealth.

“I have never been involved and would not get involved in one single deal of abusing my power for personal gain because no such gains whatsoever could shake my convictions,” he is reported to have written.

A spokesman for Credit Suisse refused to comment on any specific case or client, but said the bank had “detailed procedures for dealing with politically exposed persons” which complies with money laundering regulations in Switzerland and elsewhere.

“Credit Suisse is required by Swiss law to uphold bank client confidentiality and is therefore unable to comment on this matter,” he said. “In the absence of any further information, the media cannot be certain that they have a full understanding of the matter. As a result, they will not be able to portray it accurately or objectively.”

The ICIJ records also detail a company connected to Deng Jiagui, the husband of the older sister of Xi Jinping, China’s president, who has cultivated a public image as an anti-corruption campaigner. According to the BVI records, Deng, a real-estate developer and investor, owns a 50% stake in the BVI-incorporated Excellence Effort Property Development. Ownership of the remainder of the company traces back to two Chinese property tycoons, who last year won a $2bn real estate bid.

Other “princelings” — a widely-used term for the families of China’s political elite — with offshore ties include: Li Xiaolin, a senior executive in one of China’s state-owned power firms and the daughter of former premier Li Peng; Wu Jianchang, the son-in-law of China’s late “paramount leader” Deng Xiaoping; and Hu Yishi, a cousin of former president Hu Jintao.

China’s political elite were not the only individuals taking advantage of the BVI’s offshore anonymity. At least 16 of China’s richest people, with a combined estimated net worth in excess of $45bn, were found to have connections with companies based in the jurisdiction.

Among those was Huang Guangyu, the founder of China’s largest electronics retailer and once the country’s richest man. Huang and his wife had a network of more than 30 companies in the BVI, according to the ICIJ records. Huang subsequently fell from grace and was in 2010 sentenced to 14 years in prison for insider trading and bribery.

Despite his imprisonment, Huang’s offshore network is not standing idle. In 2011, one of his BVI firms made an unsuccessful bid for the Ark Royal, the retired aircraft carrier which was once the flagship of the British navy. According to press reports, Huang planned to turn the carrier into a shopping mall, but navy officials decided instead to scrap the ship.

Offshore shareholders

In total, the ICIJ database — which covers just two of the BVI’s numerous incorporation agencies — lists more than 21,000 addresses in China or Hong Kong as directors or shareholders of offshore companies, demonstrating the country’s status as one of the premier buyers of offshore services. In recent years, offshore jurisdictions have aggressively courted the Chinese market, with many opening offices and promotional sites in Hong Kong.

The BVI’s courtship of China’s rich and powerful may prove an embarrassment for the United Kingdom. The BVI remains a British overseas territory, and while largely independent in practice, UK authorities retain a degree of responsibility and connection with the islands.

The UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron has publicly pledged to take action against offshore secrecy and offshore tax avoidance, including in crown protectorates such as Jersey and Guernsey, and overseas territory, meaning further exposure of the role of the BVI could prove a political embarrassment.

The role of major Western financial institutions in establishing offshore structures has also attracted scrutiny, despite being a routine and entirely legal function for many of them.

The ICIJ records show both PricewaterhouseCoopers and UBS had extensive contacts with incorporation agents in the BVI and other territories in the region. In total, UBS helped incorporate more than 1,000 offshore institutions for clients from China, Hong Kong or Taiwan, while PwC had a role in establishing at least 400.

Both PricewaterhouseCoopers and UBS declined to comment on any specifics regarding their activities in the BVI, or with China’s rich. However, spokesmen for both companies said their activities complied with appropriate law and ethical codes.

“As a matter of policy, PwC member firms do not comment about clients or their business,” said a spokesman for PwC China.

“PwC’s tax advisory practice helps our clients make informed business decisions, balance their responsibilities to do the right thing for multiple stakeholders, often across many countries, and meet their tax requirements.”

A UBS spokesman said: “We operate to the highest standards in our business operations to meet all our legal and regulatory requirements.”

The amassed wealth and alleged corruption among China’s political elite has been a topic of growing interest not only in the Western media, but also — to a limited extent — within China itself.

Spurred on by President Xi’s public statements around anti-corruption efforts, a Chinese academic and activist, Xu Zhiyong, inspired a “New Citizens’ Movement” in the country — an informal civil society group which among other goals aims to increase the financial transparency of the country’s elite and curbing corruption.

The movement, however, has faced strong opposition from Chinese authorities. Numerous participants in the New Citizens Movement have been arrested at public gatherings, while its founder Xu is in prison facing charged of “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order”, and faces up to five years in prison. Meanwhile, international journalists who have reported from within the country on the wealth of China’s political elite have faced immigration difficulties from the government, or trouble with authorities.

⋅ Read the ICIJ’s full report of the latest offshore links.

President Xi Jinping prepares China for war with military exercise of 40,000 soldiers

PLATaiwan’s Want China Times ( ) reports, Dec. 29, 2013, that according to a commentary published on Dec. 28 on the website of China’s official Xinhua news agency, to prepare China for war, Chinese president Xi Jinping personally approved a large-scale military exercise in October — dubbed “Mission Action 2013” — which involved 40,000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

In the words of Want China Times:

The long-winded 7,500-word piece said Xi, who also heads the Communist Party and is chairman of the Central Military Commission, has repeatedly emphasized the goal of building a strong army since ascending to power at the 18th National Congress last November — a goal which has become more important since that time due to major changes in China’s international strategic situation and its national security situation. These include rising tensions with Japan over the Diaoyutai islands (Diaoyu to China, Senkaku to Japan) in the East China Sea, strained relations with the unpredictable North Korea, concerns over the increased US military presence in the Asia Pacific, and a slate of violent incidents at home involving ethnic minorities which have been labeled “terrorist” attacks.

During a visit to Guangzhou, the capital of southern Guangdong province, to witness a naval exercise last December, Xi told his troops of his dream of rejuvenating the “great Chinese nation,” which he said cannot be achieved without a powerful army with Chinese characteristics.

The commentary said it was important to develop the country’s military through proper propaganda and education, the clarification of ideas and implementing strategies in every aspect of army building in a realistic and pragmatic manner. The PLA must persevere to modernize as well as expand and strengthen its military strategies to deepen preparations for potential conflict to ensure that the troops are ready if called upon not only to fight, but to win, the article added.

Noting that the pivotal third plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee last month is incorporating national security and military reforms into China’s overall reform strategy, the commentary said that the fundamental goal of the reforms is to increase the efficiency and battle-readiness of the military. Major goals of the reforms include fully bringing China’s military into the information age, revamping the command system for joint combat, and reforming the leadership structure.

Other reform goals include optimizing the size and structure of the army, adjusting and improving the proportion between various troops, and reducing non-combat institutions and personnel.

The commentary highlighted a number of Xi’s visits to various PLA military zones across the country over the past year, saying that it illustrates his affection and care for the troops. In particular, Xi visited the Beijing Military Region on Aug. 1 this year to celebrate the founding of the PLA, and two months later [in October] personally oversaw “Mission Action 2013,” the large-scale joint military exercise in which 40,000 troops maneuvered over 30,000 kilometers by road, rail, sea and air to test the logistic capabilities of the PLA in real war situations.

To demonstrate that he is serious about reforming China’s military, Xi has also included high-ranking PLA officers in his ongoing anti-corruption sweep, increased supervision of PLA activities and cut down on excess and extravagance within the army, the article said.

See also: