The pace of reform and modernisation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been unprecedented in the years since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012.
This reflects the great need for change given that the military’s organisation was outmoded, but also Mr Xi’s personal ambition to be the leader who takes China through its final stage towards being a powerful nation, analysts have said.
Much of the troop reduction has occurred in the ground forces while personnel numbers in the navy and air force have been increased with the expansion of China’s defence needs beyond its land borders and near seas to farther afield, as its overseas interests grow in tandem with its rise.
In all, the changes that have taken place in the PLA have been impressive, said Associate Professor Li Mingjiang of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. These are in line with Mr Xi’s emphasis on having a strong military, he said, adding that this was part of the Chinese leader’s personal commitment to “make the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation a reality”.
Last updated on 11/08/2017