Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged breakthroughs in reform of the country’s armed forces by 2020, vowing to reorganize the current military administration structure and military command system.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the remarks at a meeting on reforming the armed forces which was held from Nov. 24 to 26.
FROM MILITARY COMMANDS TO BATTLE ZONE COMMANDS
A new structure will be established, in which the CMC takes charge of the overall administration of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Chinese People’s Armed Police and the militia and reserve forces; battle zone commands focus on combats; and different military services pursue their own construction, Xi said.
While urging the PLA to maintain “correct political direction,” Xi outlined “a series of designs and arrangements” to consolidate the basic principle that “the Communist Party of China (CPC) has absolute leadership of the armed forces.”
According to Xi, the CMC’s “centralized and unified” leadership should be strengthened to ensure that supreme administration and command status belong to the CMC and the CPC Central Committee.
Xi cited measures designed to “integrate the administrative system and the joint battle command system,” including a general command center for land forces and enabling the CMC to directly administer and command various military departments.
The current regional military commands will be adjusted and regrouped into new battle zone commands supervised by the CMC, Xi said.
The reform will establish a three-tier “CMC – battle zone commands – troops” command system and an administration system that runs from CMC through various services to the troops.
Currently, a majority of Chinese troops consist of 850,000 land forces, which are deployed in seven military area commands headquartered in Shenyang, Beijing, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Lanzhou.
The CMC, the top leadership organ of the Chinese military, exercises command and control over the seven military area commands, the Navy, the Air Force and the Second Artillery Corps through the four general headquarters.
REFORM KEY TO BUILDING A STRONGER ARMY
Xi said deepening defence and military reforms are a crucial step for the military’s future, a sure path to a strong military, and a call of the time to realize the Chinese dream as well as a strong military dream.
He called on the military and related sectors to rally behind the strategy of strengthening the military through reforms.
The move to deepen defense and military reform is aimed at breaking down systematic, structural and policy barriers, modernizing the organization of the military, further unleashing the combat capacity and vigor of the military.
It should also aim at building a firm defense and strong military commensurate with China’s international standing and interests in security and development.
Xi said, the history of the people’s army is one of reform and innovation. “Under the leadership of the Party, the army has gone from small to large, from weak to strong, and from victory to victory,” Xi said.
The reason why the military has stayed vigorous is that it has kept pace with times and never ceased reforming itself, Xi added.
“Now, as the country progresses from a large country to a large and powerful one, defense and military development stands at a new and historic starting line, Xi said.
Taking into consideration the world’s larger picture as well as profound and complicated changes in the international landscape, “We must deepen defense and military reforms with greater wisdom and courage,” Xi said.
Xi stressed the importance of regulating power within the military, demanding a strict system to regulate and supervise the use of power.
“Decision-making, enforcement and supervision powers should be separated and distributed in a manner that ensures they serve as checks and balances on each other but also run in parallel,” Xi said.
Solving the problem of weak discipline enforcement and inspection, auditing and judicial supervision processes of the military are paramount, Xi said, pledging to eradicate the “soil” of corruption with stricter rules and systems.
A new discipline inspection commission will be established within the CMC and disciplinary inspectors will be sent to CMC departments and zone commands.
The CMC will have an audit office and a political and legal affairs commission. The independent and fair exertion of judicial power by military courts and procuratorates will be ensured with adjustments to the military judicial system.
The structure of troops will be optimized to improve the quality and efficiency of the army. A “revolution” of the management of the military will be rolled out with modern management techniques so that the army is managed professionally, Xi said.
STREAMLINING, PERIPHERAL REFORMS
China will also cut its troops by 300,000. Administrative and non-combat personnel in the military will be downsized. The proportion and structure of forces among different services will be streamlined to suit new security needs and operations.
Xi urged the military to “stand at strategic commanding heights” in future competitions and promote new ideas to drive the army’s fighting capability, calling for more to be done in developing national defense science and technology, including frontier research in both major technology and new concepts.
Military personnel management should be streamlined in adherence with the CPC’s leadership so that the military’s human resources can help improve the army’s capability in combat, Xi said. Reforms will improve in the management of all personnel, as well as medical care, insurance, housing and payments for servicemen.
The management style should fit the professional traits of military members and the sense of honor, pride and morale, Xi stressed.
Xi said it is important to promote the integrated development of both the military and non-military sectors, and of the economy and defense.
To this end, he required a management and operation system that integrates state leadership, coordination between the military and non-military sectors, as well as the market rules.
He called for strengthening the militia and reserve forces and national-level efforts to enhance management of and security to veterans.
Xi also noted the transfer or retirement of military personnel, saying special policies for arranging jobs should be given to them.
The military must resolutely terminate all paid services, Xi ordered.
Xi highlighted a timeline for achieving concrete results in the reform, saying breakthroughs in overhauling the leadership and joint command system must be made by 2020.
To finish the task, Xi said high-ranking military officers must take the lead to support the reform and defend the authority of the central leadership. Common soldiers should be guided to embrace the reform.