President Xi Downsizes Military, Focuses on Tech-Based Warfare
Citing the importance of technology rather than relying solely on sheer force of numbers, President Xi Jinping on Saturday announced a further reduction to China's 2.3 million-strong military and pushed for improvement to its combat readiness and capabilities.
Last year, President Xi ordered the downsizing of the world's largest military, cutting 300,000 troops. The move is expected to be implemented next year.
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Xi, in a speech he delivered at a conference on military reforms, said the Chinese military ought to be focusing on acquiring proficiency in information and technology-based new means of warfare and not rely solely on its massive number.
As chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), the overall command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), Xi said China's military needs further reforms to keep up with the modern times.
"This is a major, inevitable change. We must seize the opportunity and make breakthrough," the state-run news agency, Xinhua, quoted the president as saying.
Xi said the "unprecedented" troop reduction is part of Beijing's move to streamline the country's military forces and modernize their capabilities with new weapons and technology.
Ballistic missile tests
President Xi's message comes on the heels of China's ballistic missile tests launched last month which military analysts have called a "display of force."
The Chinese leader emphasized that the troop downsizing must happen in conjunction with improving the combat readiness of the military which means equipping them with the skills and proficiency to handle technology-based new methods of warfare.
"There have been new changes in terms of the military's size, structure and formation, which features smaller in size, more capable in strength, modularization, and multi-functionality, with scientific factors playing bigger roles," Xi said.