President Xi Jinping says China’s military must be smaller and more skilled. Failure to make changes will risk the military of falling behind, influencing its ability to wage war.
In September of last year, Xi unexpectedly said that he would cut military personnel numbers by 300,000. The reduction came as a shock coming from the world’s largest military, currently 2.3-million troops strong.
The cuts occur at a time of heightened economic concern. With slow growth in China, and the leadership deals with difficult economic reforms. Previously, hundreds of soldiers protested in Beijing in October.
The layoffs are part of extensive reforms to improve the military, veering away from the old Soviet-era command, with more emphasis on advanced high-tech weapons like stealth jets.
Xi said militaries need to adapt with the times and they can’t stick to their old ways. Otherwise, strong armed forces will become outdated and could collapse quickly. He continues by saying that history and reality prove that if a military falls behind on scale and strength, it will also fall behind on war developments, forfeiting strategy, and the right to initiate war.
Xi says China’s military needs to focus more on advancing technology rather than numbers.
China’s military has not fought in a war in decades, and the government swears they have no hostile intentions. However, they say they need to be able to defend the world’s second-largest economy properly.
But China is raising eyebrows around the world with their highly assertive stand in the South and East China Seas, and their ambitious improvement programs including aircraft carriers and anti-satellite missiles.