In A First, China To Slash Military Force By Over 50 Percent

न्यूज़ वर्ल्ड इंडिया | 1
| July 12 , 2017 , 13:48 IST

Currently having the world's largest army, China will likely be slashing its present military force of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) from 2.3 million personnel to 1 million, a complete reduction of 1.3 million in the biggest troop reduction in PLA history.

"This is the first time that active PLA Army personnel would be reduced to below one million," said a report in the PLA Daily on structural reform in the military.

"The old military structure, where the army accounts for the vast majority, will be replaced after the reform," the report said.

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According to the report, as the number of troops in PLA Army is decreased, the number of troops in the PLA Navy, PLA Strategic Support Force, and the PLA Rocket Force will be increased. The number of troops in the PLA Air Force would remain the same.

"The reform is based on China's strategic goals and security requirements. In the past, the PLA focused on ground battle and homeland defence, which will undergo fundamental changes," said the article.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has called for a lean but modernised armed forces. To that end, over the past two years, China has cut down its defence spending with the military budget in 2017 standing at 7 percent, the lowest hike in more than 10 years.

Since China is becoming a major sea power and facing more disputes on seas than land, the restructuring of their armed forces is designed to use their human resources accordingly. From its 14 neighbours China has land disputes only with India and Bhutan.

According to the Chinese Defence Ministry, PLA had about 850,000 combat troops in 2013.

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"This reform will provide other services, including the PLA Rocket Force, Air Force, Navy and Strategic Support Force (mainly responsible for electronic warfare and communication), with more resources and inputs, and the PLA will strengthen its capability to conduct overseas missions," Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, was quoted as saying by Global Times.

"The PLA must be capable of spotting overseas threats and destroying hostile forces thousands of kilometers away before they enter our 12 nautical mile territorial waters," Xu said.

"China's overseas interests are spread around the world and need to be protected. These are beyond the army's current capabilities," said Xu.0

The PLA structure should also fit China's international status, Xu added.