PLA Embarks on ‘Long March’ to Build a US-style Professional Armed Forces

By | Nov 29, 2016 11:51 PM EST

PLAAF fighter pilots march like soldiers. (Photo : PLAAF)

The People's Liberation Army (PLA), the armed forces of the Communist Party of China (CPC), on Nov. 24 launched what it termed a "long march of deepening military reform" aimed at giving it professional parity with the United States Armed Forces over the next decades.

PLA propaganda played-up Nov. 24 as "a fresh start" in the history of the PLA, whose commitment "to building a strong military has become stronger."

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The PLA is manned overwhelmingly by poorly-motivated and poorly-educated conscripts, an increasing number of whom are either too fat or are spoiled only children derided as "Little Emperors." In contrast, the U.S. Armed Forces is a professional all-volunteer force that has been in continuous combat since the turn of the century.

One of the more important PLA websites described China as entering "a key stage of transforming itself from a big country into a strong power, which calls for greater courage in advancing military reform."

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in late 2012, the central authority has championed improving combat capabilities as the ultimate goal of building a strong army.

This makes it necessary for the PLA to implement a new round of reforms focusing on removing systematic barriers that hinder military development.

PLA morale was boosted when military flags were conferred on the general command for the PLA Ground Force, the PLA Rocket Force and the PLA Strategic Support Force in December 2015.

That same month, the CPC reshuffled its military headquarters under the Central Military Commission (CMC), the country's top military organ. Last February, CMC reorganized the PLA regional commands into five theater commands.

The PLA said its reforms won't end here. It said China is working hard to boost its military capacity through civilian-military integration and innovation-driven development.

Over the past years, China has striven to develop its national defense technology by harnessing the "Made in China 2025" and "Internet Plus" programs, as well as cutting-edge information technologies such as big data.

Anti-graft efforts have been enhanced, thereby contributing to building a clean military.

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