A PLA special unit on a training exercise in Shandong province, Nov. 15, 2013. (Photo/CNS)
The large-scale military exercise dubbed "Mission Action 2013" involving 40,000 soldiers of the People's Liberation Army in October was personally approved by President Xi Jinping to prepare his troops in the event of war, according to a strongly worded commentary published Saturday on the website of the official Xinhua news agency.
The long-winded 7,500-word piece said Xi, who also heads the Communist Party and is chairman of the Central Military Commission, has repeatedly emphasized the goal of building a strong army since ascending to power at the 18th National Congress last November — a goal which has become more important since that time due to major changes in China's international strategic situation and its national security situation. These include rising tensions with Japan over the Diaoyutai islands (Diaoyu to China, Senkaku to Japan) in the East China Sea, strained relations with the unpredictable North Korea, concerns over the increased US military presence in the Asia Pacific, and a slate of violent incidents at home involving ethnic minorities which have been labeled terrorist attacks.
During a visit to Guangzhou, the capital of southern Guangdong province, to witness a naval exercise last December, Xi told his troops of his dream of rejuvenating the "great Chinese nation," which he said cannot be achieved without a powerful army with Chinese characteristics.
The commentary said it was important to develop the country's military through proper propaganda and education, the clarification of ideas and implementing strategies in every aspect of army building in a realistic and pragmatic manner. The PLA must persevere to modernize as well as expand and strengthen its military strategies to deepen preparations for potential conflict to ensure that the troops are ready if called upon not only to fight, but to win, the article added.
Noting that the pivotal third plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee last month is incorporating national security and military reforms into China's overall reform strategy, the commentary said that the fundamental goal of the reforms is to increase the efficiency and battle-readiness of the military. Major goals of the reforms include fully bringing China's military into the information age, revamping the command system for joint combat, and reforming the leadership structure.
Other reform goals include optimizing the size and structure of the army, adjusting and improving the proportion between various troops, and reducing non-combat institutions and personnel.
The commentary highlighted a number of Xi's visits to various PLA military zones across the country over the past year, saying that it illustrates his affection and care for the troops. In particular, Xi visited the Beijing Military Region on Aug. 1 this year to celebrate the founding of the PLA, and two months later personally oversaw "Mission Action 2013," the large-scale joint military exercise in which 40,000 troops maneuvered over 30,000 kilometers by road, rail, sea and air to test the logistic capabilities of the PLA in real war situations.
To demonstrate that he is serious about reforming China's military, Xi has also included high-ranking PLA officers in his ongoing anti-corruption sweep, increased supervision of PLA activities and cut down on excess and extravagance within the army, the article said.
Xi Jinping 習近平