Reform to make PLA match China’s new international status
China is preparing to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army of China (PLA) which falls on August 1, with experts saying that the anniversary also marks the important fundamental reform and strategic transformation of China's military forces.
On August 1 1927, the Communist Party of China (CPC) organized a military uprising in Nanchang, East China's Jiangxi Province, seen as the starting point of the CPC leading military struggles against the Kuomintang administration. The day was later recognized as the birth of the PLA, led by the CPC.
China's Ministry of National Defense on Friday released a video with an English voice-over titled "The Chinese People's Liberation Army of 2017" on its website to demonstrate the prowess and achievements of the PLA.
The video has been reposted by mainstream State-own media on their websites and social media platforms.
The 16-minute video briefly introduces PLA history and the latest developments of the PLA's five services, the army, air force, navy, Rocket Force and the Strategic Support Force.
It also displays advanced military equipment, including the J20 stealth fighter jet, Type 99A main battle tank and two aircraft carriers, while stressing that "safeguarding peace is where our mission lies."
"The 90th anniversary of the PLA is in the midst of China's fundamental military reform and strategic transformation, so apart from commemorating its history, it's also a new start for the PLA," said Song Zhongping, a military expert who formerly served in the PLA Rocket Force.
The reform and strategic transformation will make the PLA match China's most recent international status and national interests, and although the change is not easy, the CPC Central Military Commission is firmly pushing it, Song said.
For instance, the army will be downsized and the navy, the Rocket Force and the Strategic Support Force will be boosted. The air force will remain the same, reported Jun Zhengping Studio, the WeChat account of the PLA Daily.
"In the past, the army was the absolute main body of the PLA, but since China's national interests are expanding quickly overseas and there are more requests from other countries for China to share more of the global security burden, China has many more new missions that are beyond the army's capability," said Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.
On July 11, two navy vessels carrying Chinese military personnel left from Zhanjiang, South China's Guangdong Province for China's first overseas support base in Djibouti.
"This kind of move will help China better guard its overseas interests and fulfill its international responsibilities, and more overseas bases will be built in other countries around the globe," Xu said.
City of heroes
Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi Province, is also known as the "City of Heroes" for its role in the founding of the PLA, and it is preparing for the celebrations.
According to the Jiangxi Daily, the official newspaper of the provincial Party committee, a square beside the Ganjiang River in Nanchang which will have huge statues depicting the story of the PLA's founding, will open on August 1, with construction almost complete.
The Nanchang Military Theme Park will also open on the same day to promote military education among the people, the Jiangxi Daily reported. This theme park will display many types of PLA military equipment, including tanks, fighter jets, bombers, frigates and artillery, and it also has other activities like shooting practice, tank driving and war game competitions.