Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Xi Orders Pace of PLA ‘Reforms’ Intensified following Adverse South China Sea Ruling

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(Photo : Getty Images) China's Xi Jinping

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) remains unfit to fight and Chinese President Xi Jinping is ordering it to speed-up reforms so it can cope with international events moving against China that might lead to a future conflict.

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"Further military reform is needed to cope with changing international situation and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics," said Xi, who has constantly urged military reform to build a stronger PLA.

The Chinese leader made this remark two weeks after the historic July 12 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that handed a major victory to the Philippines by rejecting with finality China's claim to most of the South China Sea.

The court said China's territorial claims in the South China Sea have no legal basis under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) China ratified in 2006.

"Reform is a comprehensive and revolutionary change, and obstacles and policy issues that may hold back reform measures must be addressed so as to build a strong armed forces commensurate with China's international status," said Xi at a seminar of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that focused on national defense and military reform.

He noted the CPC has constantly reformed and improved the PLA, which owes its loyalty to the CPC and not to the Chinese state. Xi is the General Secretary of the CPC.

Xi's critics, however, noted Xi's reforms in the PLA are focused mainly on ensuring the armed forces' loyalty to the CPC and not towards increasing its military professionalism. The "reforms" that date back to 2014 have increased the amount of time devoted to teaching communist ideology to the officer corps.

It must be remembered the primary mission of the PLA is to protect the Communist Party's civilian leaders against its enemies, especially those within China, and not to defend the Chinese people. It is for this reason the Communist Party spends more for internal security than it does for external defense.

New training regulations from the People's Liberation Army General Political Department remind soldiers to attend communist party activities and lectures, and to pay their party dues.

The goal of the communist ideology-oriented military training doctrine is to build an army that "obeys the Party's command, is capable of winning battles and has a sound work style," said Xinhua, the Communist Party propaganda mouthpiece.

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