Chinese President Xi Jinping told officials on Tuesday to transform the army into an effective fighting force and retain absolute loyalty to the Communist Party of China (CPC).
China’s armed forces, the world’s largest by troop numbers, are in the midst of a modernization which includes deep reform and investment in technology and new equipment, Xi, also the general secretary of the CPC’s central committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), said.
He was speaking at a grand gathering in Beijing to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Just two days ago, the chairman presided over a large-scale military parade at Zhurihe, the country’s largest military training base in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Wearing military fatigues and a field cap, Xi reviewed thousands of troops in the grand field parade.
He said, “Hello comrades!” and “Salute to your dedication!”
The troops greeted back, “Hello Chairman!”, “Serve the people!”, “Follow the Party!”, “Fight to win!” and “Forge exemplary conduct!”.
It was the second time the PLA used the title of “Chairman” instead of “Commander” to greet the head of the army, after the same term was heard during Xi’s inspection of Hong Kong’s PLA Garrison marking the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s founding.
Strong army part of ‘Chinese Dream’
Xi reviewed the PLA’s evolution during Tuesday’s speech, noting that 90 years ago the PLA was founded on the August 1 Nanchang Uprising (1927) at the start of the CPC’s independent leadership of the revolutionary war.
One of the major reasons that the PLA could defeat oppression and invasion in modern history was a strong and disciplined army with resolute loyalty to the Party and unyielding fighting spirit, he said.
He told assembled military officials that building world-class military might is central to the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
On Sunday, the PLA displayed its military readiness to the world. Unlike the massive 2015 parade through central Beijing, thousands of troops marched in combat garb, not dress uniforms, and vehicles kicked up clouds of dust as they rounded sections of the base’s track.
Tanks, vehicle-mounted nuclear-capable missiles and other equipment rolled by, as military aircraft flew above, including H-6K bombers, the J-15 carrier-based fighters and new generation J-20 stealth fighters.
Party absolutely controls army
Xi on Tuesday reaffirmed the Party’s absolute leadership over the army.
“Always listen to and follow the Party’s orders, and march to wherever the Party points,” Xi reiterated.
He stressed the role of Party leadership and Marxism in the country’s development. Citing Deng Xiaoping, one of the country’s great military strategists, Xi said it is the faith — strong fighting spirit, Marxism and Communism — that make China’s revolution a success and that lead its efforts of defending national sovereignty and territory, safeguarding people’s safety and economic interests and contributing to world’s peacekeeping missions.
Speaking after Xi, Premier Li Keqiang told army officials that the country will closely unite around Xi’s core leadership of the Communist Party, and strive for the goal of building a strong army and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Military-Civilian investment and tech
Xi also stressed that military-civilian integration is an important strategy to deal with threats to national security and that the strategy is to advance national defense and weaponry.
In January, the Politburo announced the formation of the Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civilian Development. Chairman Xi will head the commission.
Two main purposes:
To apply military technology to civilian use;
To encourage civilian involvement in the military industrial sector.
The creation of the committee comes as China expands its military hardware and hopes to better tap into innovation, investment and production capacity in the civilian sector.
China’s peaceful rise
Xi reiterated on Tuesday that China will continue to be a responsible player in world affairs, helping to defend the world’s peace and order.
China will always firmly defend world peace and order, and has military cooperation with different countries to increase the capability to deal with threats to world security, Xi said.
China will not allow anyone, any organizations or political parties, to harm its national interests and security, he added.
“China is obliged to contribute to the creation of the community of shared future for mankind.”