Chinese President Xi Jinping, who began his second five-year term as the country’s leader, ordered People’s Liberation Army, its 2.3 million strong military to intensify its combat readiness and also focus on how to win wars. Addressing a meeting of the top military officials on Thursday, Xi asked them to lead the troops according to the strictest standards and also ensure that rules and regulations are complied with.
The once-in-a-five-year Congress of the Communist Party also approved his ideology to be written into its Constitution, elevating 64-year-old Xi on par with modern China’s founder Chairman Mao Zedong and his successor Deng Xiaoping. Following a closed-door vote, Xi was also re-elected as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) for another five-year term as well as Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
Defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang on Thursday said that Xi’s plan to strengthen the military would be fully implemented and his authority would be upheld. During the meeting, Xi asked the military officers to build a strong army with Chinese characteristics. “We should strive to fully transform the people’s armed forces into a world-class military by the mid-21st century,” Xi said.
Xi, who also heads the Central Military Commission, the overall high command of the world’s largest military, asked the officials to keep carrying out reforms in the national defence system and the military, and to carefully consider strategic issues concerning the PLA’s future development. He also said that the troops should obey CPC’s absolute leadership over the armed forces and also innovate its strategy. Senior officers, as the backbone of the campaign to build a strong army, should be loyal and obedient to the party, be good and smart at combat and endeavour to reform, Xi added. The Communist Party Chief is the only civilian leader in CMC, which is otherwise packed with armed forces officials.
The new CMC line-up which earlier included 11 members, is now led by a group of seven officials who head its operations. Earlier media reports also suggested that Xi wanted to reduce the Standing Committee of the party from seven to five. However, he did not succeed because of the fierce opposition from other leaders.
During his previous tenure, Xi carried out widespread reforms of the military including re-configuring the command structure, slashed three lakh troops from 2.3 million, cut the size of the army to a million and made navy more powerful to push China’s influence abroad.