China is about to undergo a comprehensive reform of its military and national defense. This measure is to be steered by none other than Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi in his capacity shall oversee a group responsible for planning and executing such reform measures. In addition, the president is also the chairman of the national Central Military Commission. This is a powerful body and as chairman, Xi effectively has entire control of the chinese military. The president’s role in overseeing these reforms was confirmed by Chinese state media last Saturday.
The group responsible for this reform is known as the National Security Commission. It was created by Xi who chaired its first meeting recently. In addition to this group, Xi also chairs committees responsible for internet security, and economic reform. Likewise many observe this as a move by the president to quickly consolidate his power in the country.
During the National Security Commission’s meeting Xi stressed the need for the nation to build a strong army and that the country’s new comprehensive reform policies were primarily aimed at achieving this. A strong army would mean a more modern one. So far Xi and no other government official has gone on record for either the state media or another news agency and explained how he aims at bringing about this reform of the military.
Xi has stated that military and national defense reform were important symbols and equally important parts of the overall reform in China. Without disclosing details Xi reiterated this aim saying that the goal of the military was to not only engage in combat but to also win battles. Some of the reform measures would include improving combat preparedness and eradicating weaknesses that compromised combat effectiveness.
According to Xi, a modernized Chinese military would have a “sound work style,” and would obey the party’s high command. Earlier this month the country had announced the biggest rise in military spending in three years. Effectively the country has increased its military spending by 12.2 percent which would amount to 808.23 billion yuan or $131.57 billion.
This military budget is second to only the United States in the world. This year’s hike is not unusual as the country has had double-digit hikes in military spending for almost two decades. With the present budget increase, the country aims to increase its coastal and air defense capability. In addition, there are plans to acquire sophisticated weapons. This year’s military budget increase is Xi’s first since he assumed office last year.
This increase in spending reflects Xi’s call to build a rejuvenated and strong nation. The country’s comments over border disputes with Japan and other neighboring countries have reflected a change in tone which is both aggressive and assertive. Xi has urged the military leaders to get the country’s sole aircraft carrier combat ready. In addition to developing high-tech weapons, the country aims at developing the capability to build stealth fighters that would be able to shoot down satellites. In his bid to enact a sweeping reform of the military in China and to assist President Xi Jinping are General Fan Changlong and General Xu Qiliang who have both been designated as deputy’s of the national security committee.
By Unni K. Nair