China to shake up military to have leaner army

2015-11-25 17:05
Chinese President Xi Jinping. (AP)

Chinese President Xi Jinping. (AP)

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Beijing - The top ranks of China's enormous military machine have been told to brace for reform orders aimed at streamlining the force, a news report said on Wednesday.

The overhaul would include a geographical reorganisation, with the current seven military commands re-divided into four strategic zones, the South China Morning Post cited unnamed sources as saying.

The top officers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) were told on Tuesday the reforms had been launched at a session attended by President Xi Jinping, the report said.

Xi urged the assembled commanders to comply with the extensive reforms, the report cited its source as saying. 

"It's a long-anticipated overhaul for grass-roots soldiers because it's a practical push to turn the PLA into a real modern army of international standard," the source told the South China Morning Post.

"However, it's also a setback for some senior officials who lost out in the reform. That's why Xi has ordered them to obey discipline."

During the past year, Xi has overseen a crackdown on corruption in the military. Top brass have been reshuffled amid corruption investigations against dozens of senior officers.

In September, Xi also announced plans to reduce military ranks by around 300 000 personnel, from an estimated 2.3 million troops.

The Defence Ministry said the cuts, due by 2017, were aimed at "expressing China's responsible attitude to support global arms control" and "to make the Chinese army more efficient and modern".

At the same time, the overall military budget will increase, it said.

"Breakthroughs must be made in reforming commanding and joint operational systems," Xu Qiliang, vice chairperson of the Central Military Commission, wrote in the People's Daily on November 12.

China intends to "establish more power over the ocean, space and cyberspace" as these are key areas of military competition, he wrote.

A recent report from RAND Corp, a California-based research group, said the PLA suffers from the "potentially serious weaknesses" of an outdated command and control structure, lack of professionalism, and corruption.

Jean Pierre Cabestan, director for government and international studies at Hong Kong Baptist University, told dpa it is this lack of readiness which is why the leadership thinks of the PLA as a potential obstacle to the maintenance of its power. 

Read more on:    china  |  military

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