China and it’s defence preparedness

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  1. JAYRAM

    JAYRAM 2 STRIKE CORPS Senior Member

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    Jayadeva Ranade | Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s ‘Report on the Work of the Government’ presented on March 5, 2012, to the National People’s Congress (NPC) plenum has, as usual, been studied by Chinese citizens as well as foreign politicians, businessmen and others.

    It identifies the government’s priorities, budget allocations and thinking of the higher echelons of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and government on important issues.

    The portion outlining the government’s views on foreign policy and defence receives special attention. Comments on China’s armed forces and its defence budget are subject to intense scrutiny and, for China’s neighbours, are issues of direct concern

    The report helps to discern the emphasis on military modernisation, defence scientific research and development, and the military’s goals. The 30-page report presented to the last session of the current Eleventh NPC is also important because, to an extent, it reflects areas where the views of the current and incoming leaders converge.

    Significant is that, for the first time ever, China’s officially announced defence budget exceeds $100 billion to touch 670 billion yuan or $106.4 billion. China’s defence budget is now the second largest in the world and by far the largest in Asia.

    While NPC spokesman and former Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, predictably sought to downplay the increase by claiming — quite correctly — that China’s military spending had actually decreased as a proportion of GDP and overall fiscal expenditure, it nonetheless increased by 11.2% over last year.

    This is substantive even accounting for last year’s inflation that averaged just under 5%. The trend of double-digit increases in defence spending, begun since 1994, has also been maintained.

    While Premier Wen Jiabao justified the increase as necessary to enhance the capability of the armed forces to “win local wars under information age conditions”, he omitted any critical reference to Taiwan or any “regional hot spots”.

    The NPC spokesman assured that “China’s limited military strength is aimed at safeguarding sovereignty, national security and territorial integrity and will not pose a threat to other countries.” He said the defense budget would mostly be spent on daily necessities, training and equipment for military personnel and research, experiment, procurement of all weapons and equipment.

    Remarks by senior PLA officers on the sidelines of the NPC indicate that a qualitative upgrading of PLA officers is underway. The PLA is preparing to safeguard China’s expanding interests worldwide and undertake operations to rescue Chinese citizens from war-afflicted zones.

    It will continue to focus on ‘Joint Integrated Operations’ and train for anti-terrorist operations. The Chinese-refitted aircraft carrier that recently conducted sea trials is to be commissioned into the PLA Navy this year, with three more aircraft carriers to be added later.

    The Party’s control over the PLA is critical, but there is a hint this year that the Party might be concerned about some aberrations. As in past years, Premier Wen Jiabao emphasised the importance of ideological and political education in the PLA and its adherence to the principle of “the Party having absolute leadership over the armed forces”. Particularly since Hu Jintao took over as Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, these aspects have received increased emphasis. Since last year, the Party launched additional campaigns insisting that the PLA is the “people’s army” and not of the state.

    Quite unusually, this year for the first time in decades, Premier Wen Jiabao pointedly declared that “we will run the armed forces with strict discipline”. Coming in the wake of General Liu Yuan’s critical observation, made in his speech on Chinese New Year, the Premier’s remarks acquire added significance.

    General Liu Yuan is a ‘princeling’ and son of Liu Shaoqi and is considered a likely candidate for promotion to the Military Commission this year. He is close to Xi Jinping, another ‘princeling’ tipped to take over from Hu Jintao at the Party Congress this October.

    Wen Jiabao’s remarks could presage initiation of an anti-corruption campaign in the PLA, which would be a way of eliminating opposition or signalling dissatisfaction with key top officers. The remarks signal that the PLA has been singled out for scrutiny in the coming months.

    China and it’s defence preparedness - Analysis - DNA
     
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