On the 9/3 China military parade, Xi announced that 300,000 troops will be cut from the 2.3-million-people Chinese military. This is not the first time of Chinese army disarmament. In Mao, Deng, Jiang and Hu periods, Chinese army was cut by 5 million, 2 million, 500,000 and 200,000 respectively.
Although the total number of Chinese military is to be reduced, observers believe the reduction will help People’s Liberation Army (PLA) become a more effective army, and quality of China military instead of quantity will be more emphasized.
It is estimated that RMB 60 billion yuan will be saved annually, which can be used to build two Liaoning Aircraft Carriers.
Experts also believe that China don’t have to maintain such a large number of military in the current time, and the United States has also been cutting troop numbers in recent years. Even South Korea announced in 2014 that it will reduce its troop from 498,000 to 387,000.
Since the 21st century, China has been increasing investment in its military, its ground force, air force, navy and missile army are all being upgraded, most of their weapons are believed to be next only to US military.
In recent years, the system of Chinese military is undergoing fundamental changes. China military is required to adjust structure, optimize units, weaken army tradition, enhance joint commanding, changing arms proportions, etc.
According to China’s national defense white paper in 2012, China military now owns 2.3 million people, including 850,000 in army, 235,000 in navy, 398,000 in air force and over 200,000 in missile army. Besides, about 500,000 belongs to local troops of provincial military regions, logistic, technical, medical, art performance and sports units, which are predicted to be the main part for the military reduction.
Chinese military analyst Ma Dingsheng thinks the 9/3 Chinese military parade had revealed that the mechanization of Chinese army has exceeded Russia and close to America, so infantries need to be reduced. Besides, self propelled artilleries have increases fighting capacity of China military for times, so thousands of cannons could be cut. And pilots for bombers and fighting bombers can also be reduced, as conventional missiles and guided bombs have replaced ordinary bombs. Even crews for nuclear submarine and destroyers could be cut due to higher automation degree. He also thinks that loyalty index of units in People’s Liberation Army will also be considered as an important factor in the military cutting, for in history, loyalty has always been a critical power for China military.
Other observers think the seven large military regions have lost their significance due to circumstances faced by People’s Liberation Army. At present, each coastal direction is guarded by an army group, which can be aided by elite troops mobilized by the central, so the military reduction will create conditions for revocation of the seven Chinese military regions.
Chinese military expert Xu Guangyu said in an interview that personnel in military of China will be cut based on “joint operation” concept, and the proportions of army (including missile army), navy and air force will probably be 50%, 25% and 25%.
And news spokesman of the Department of Defense Yang Yujun said the key point will be “cutting troops with old arms, reducing institutional and non-operating personnel, and adjusting and optimizing structure of China military, which will be completed by 2017.”
Xu Guangyu also analyzed that commanding system will be adjusted to improve efficiency and accuracy, and non-combat personnel will be reduced to focus on joint operation.
But he also said it will be a complicated process for the military of China to make such adjustments, for the reduced personnel needs to be arranged properly, and it will be hard to determine who or which units exactly should be cut.
However, Xu also pointed out that for China military, the 300,000 reduction is an excellent pieces of news, which indicates that Chinese military has made great progress in modernization of weapons. This was well proved on the 9.3 military parade, along with appearance of DF-21D and DF-26 anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM), new type ZTZ-99A Main Battle Tank, ZBD-04A IFV, Chinese homemade gunship WZ-10 helicopter, Changjian (CJ-10) Cruise Missile, etc.
Besides, sincerity of maintaining peace is reflected. The force density of China is only 17/10000, but that of US military is 45/10000, but density of Chinese military will be reduced to 14.6/10000, which proves that China is a responsible great power in the world.
Xu said the current proportions of People’s Liberation Army of 70-70-30 cannot satisfy modern joint combat, so a more proper 50-25-25 will be achieved, just like armies of USA, Japan, Britain and France.
Chinese military expert Chen Zhou said the cutting of Chinese army this time is different from before, and it most prominent feature is that it is guided by the positive defense strategy under the new circumstances of China military. So as a part of national defense and military reform, it is unprecedented in both width and depth.
In as early as 2013, Xi had pointed out four disadvantages of military of China: unscientific leading management system, incomplete joint combat commanding system, unreasonable strength structure and lagging politics system reform.
Xi’s words and latest call for cutting military indicate Chinese military reform in four fields: management system, joint commanding system, strength structure and politics system of China’s military.
It is also forecast that China military cadre evaluation system will be an emphasis, upgrading will be based on capability of military officers, so those with determination, wisdom and ability of military reform might be put in important positions.