Jiang Zemin, chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), called on the country's armed forces to get fully aware of the changing situation, accelerate the pace of modernization, perform their sacred mission of safeguarding state security and national unification, raise the level of a regular army and provide a powerful backing to the nationwide efforts to fight for the goal of building a well-off society in all aspects and opening up a new situation in building socialism with distinct Chinese characteristics.
Jiang made the call at a panel discussion with a group of NPC deputies representing the country's armed forces during the ongoing Second Session of the Tenth National People's Congress (NPC). President Hu Jintao was present at the discussion in the capacity of CMC Vice Chairman.
After lavishing praises on the armed forces for the outstanding achievements over the past year, Jiang Zemin encouraged the armed forces to make new contributions to modernizing the army, safeguarding state security and national unification and building a well-off society in all aspects with a high sense of political responsibility and in high spirit in 2004, which, he said, is crucial in performing the Tenth Five-Year Plan.
"It is a strategic decision of major importance to push the reform of the armed forces, a decision taken after an analysis of all aspects of the international strategic situation and China's security and with an eye to taking up the challenges of new accelerating military changes in the world," Jiang said. "It is a profound revolution in the development of our armed forces. We must seize the hard-to-get historical opportunities and bring the reform into depth with a sense of immediacy."
He reiterated that the reform of the armed forces should be carried out under the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of "Three Represents".
He urged the armed forces to apply information technology in all possible areas and plan and push modernization of the army from a new starting point and accelerate the pace of mechanizing the army and applying information technology in the light of the laws governing modern warfare.
He stressed the critical roles of professional personnel, urging the whole army to study politics and military knowledge and modern technology in order to improve the general quality of officers and men, adding that high-ranking officers must, in particular, have the sense of urgency in study and in raising their abilities of commanding an army armed with information technology and modern warfare characterized by information technology.
Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC, told a group of NPC deputies representing central China's Henan province that the national legislature would continue to improve itself and constantly expand democracy and the rule by law.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, meanwhile, told NPC deputies representing east China's Jiangsu province that governments at all levels must serve the people wholeheartedly and improve their style of work, and build clean and efficient governments.
During his discussion with a group of deputies representing Taiwanese people residing on the mainland, Jia Qinglin, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, said the mainland respects the aspirations of Taiwanese compatriots for democracy.
Jia said the mainland firmly opposes the use of "referendum" by the Taiwan authorities to engage in separatist activities for independence.
"We know only too well the value of peace and meanwhile we are shouldering the heavy duty of safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity and in no way shall we allow anybody to separate Taiwan from China by any means," he stressed.
Jia expressed the conviction that the great cause of reunification of the motherland is sure to be accomplished with the unremitting efforts by the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation.
Also joining NPC panel discussions Thursday were Vice President Zeng Qinghong, Vice Premier Huang Ju and the Party's chief discipline inspector Wu Guanzheng.
(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2004)