China well on track to building modern and strong army

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China is well on its way to establishing a strong, modern army, as it has rolled out measures to restructure the armed forces, increased civil-military integration and taken a zero-tolerance stance on corruption.

Military reform accelerated when President Xi Jinping, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), put forward "the dream of a strong army" in late 2012.

Military reform

The new military structure, in which the CMC takes charge of the overall military administration, theater commands focus on combat and the different military branches pursue their own development, has been implemented.

A slew of measures began in December with the inauguration of the general command for the Army of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the PLA Rocket Force and the PLA Strategic Support Force.

Days later, the former military headquarters -- staff, politics, logistics and armaments -- were reorganized into 15 new agencies under the CMC.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, met with the new chiefs of each agency on Jan. 11, describing the reshuffle as "a breakthrough and crucial step" toward a strong military.

In February, five PLA theater commands were established, replacing the seven military area commands.

These closely-followed steps have stunned audiences at home and abroad, demonstrating the nation's determination in pushing reform to create a strong army.

Xi further ordered the establishment of a joint battle command system that was "absolutely loyal, resourceful in fighting, efficient in commanding and courageous and capable of winning wars."

A more elite military will improve capability, and to this end, in September, the country announced a cut of 300,000 standing troops to be finished by the end of 2017.

Ruling army by law

"Ruling the army by law and strictly managing troops is a fundamental principle of a strong military," said Xi, who has spearheaded the high-profile campaign to root out corruption, vested interests, bureaucracy and extravagance in the PLA.

Actually, China has made weeding out corruption in the military a major goal, as it had the potential to undermine troop's ability to fight in war.

Several senior military officers, including Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, both former vice chairmen of the CMC, and dozens of high ranking officers have been felled by the countercorruption drive over the past three years.

Violators have been discovered thanks to inspections that began in October 2013. The whole army had been inspected by the end of 2015.

Meanwhile, various campaigns were launched to clean up the undesirable work styles of formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance.

Statistics show that more than 9,600 homes were returned to authorities in 2015 after officers were found to have more properties than was deemed necessary. During the same period, the military's fleet of official vehicles was markedly reduced by 24,900.

The efforts are paying off, and the military budget is now managed much more efficiently.

Enhanced civil-military intergration

Xi has stressed the importance of civil-military integration on several occasions, describing coordination between economic development and national defense as mutually beneficial.

The integration, which is integral to realizing the dream of a strong army, picked up speed in March 2014 when it was upgraded to a national strategy.

In May 2014, the first "military and civilian integration forum" released around 200 items on weapon procurement, attracting more than 100 private enterprises and scores of cooperation agreements were inked.

The following year, a website on military weapon procurement was launched to help private enterprises and military industry groups gain information in an easier way. [ Research cooperation has deepened between the army and civilian universities, and in the meantime, great strides have been made in the way the military uses civilian facilities.

For instance, in May 2014, various military aircraft, including third-generation fighter jets, conducted successful take-offs and landings on expressways for the first time.

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