BEIJING, Aug. 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- A news report by China.org.cn on changes of the Chinese army over 40 years:
August 1 this year marks the 91st anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
Last year, China held a military parade in the Zhurihe training base modelled on real combat scenarios. The new J-20 fighter jet has been officially commissioned while, not long ago, two 10,000-tonne Type 055 missile destroyers were launched in Dalian. Every move China's military makes attracts the attention of the international community.
It was only a few decades ago when the Chinese army was a rather isolated force with outdated management and training systems as well as a lack of sophisticated technology and weaponry. But what about China's military strength today? Why has it concerned the international community in recent years?
Compared with the United States and other world-class military powers, there is still a gap, and the Chinese military has some clear shortcomings. Over recent years, China has carried out several rounds of military reform with a specific objective. That is to enhance the combat capacity and to build a modern military force fit for modern warfare as well as relevant army functions.
In the mid-1970s, the Chinese army was a very large institution with a total number of 6.1 million people, with the ground force being absolutely dominant. Overstaffing was the biggest problem. In 1985, China passed its military reform plan and decided to cut the number of its troops by one million, which caused a stir in the world. This move has reduced the size of the army and improved its quality.
In the ensuing years, China cut its troops by 500,000, 200,000 and 300,000 in 1997, 2003 and 2015 respectively, with the aim of improving the army's ability to conduct information-based operations and shift the army's focus from quantity and size to quality and efficiency, or in other words: "losing fat and building muscle."
In the past two years, China's military reform has been particularly thorough, involving not only the army command and leadership systems, but also the regrouping of five theater commands. The PLA has also formed several new units, including the Rocket Force and the Strategic Support Force, and each theater command is designed to streamline joint operations between army, navy, air and rocket forces. The new structure has systematically reshaped the Chinese army, and thus has improved the PLA's flexibility and overall combat capability.
On the other hand, the research and development and manufacturing of various kinds of advanced weapons and equipment in the new era has also highlighted China's resolve to build strong armed forces through science and technology.
Building more efficient and modernized armed forces to match the scale of national development is needed to protect the achievements of China's reform and opening up in the past 40 years and its modernization drive. Today, China's military cooperation and exchanges with other countries continue to expand. By holding annual joint military exercises with Russia and other countries and carrying out patrol missions in the Gulf of Aden, the PLA is becoming an important force in maintaining world peace.
How has the Chinese army changed over 40 years?
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