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Military modernization not a threat

By Liu Qiang | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-01 07:34

A formation of People's Liberation Army Air Force takes part in a military parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China in Beijing, Oct 1, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

National defense and military development were included in the report of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October, which said that more quickly elevating the armed forces to world-class standards is a strategic task for the country's modernization.

This has drawn a great deal of attention and comment outside China because it is a major emerging country and its military development is a sensitive subject.

But there is no benefit in repeating the "China threat" theory without a clear and objective understanding of the report.

The report states that the country's military capabilities will be strengthened through reform, science and technology and personnel training. This is a natural response to practical security demands in a changing world and reflects the transparency of China's defense development.

National defense and military development are basic requirements for a safe and stable environment on which a country's development depends.

The development of the People's Liberation Army over the past 95 years has not been enough to ensure it is at the world-class level, while the challenges for China have increased. The world is faced with multiple problems such as economic recession, geopolitical conflicts and rising nuclear risks. Some countries have been so disturbed by China's rapid development that they have formed cliques with the aim of hindering it.

Therefore, China needs a world-class military to protect its sovereignty, security and development interests.

Stressing to "intensify troop training and enhance combat preparedness across the board to see that our people's armed forces can fight and win" is not a signal that the country intends to wage a war but about enhancing the fundamental capabilities of the armed forces. Meanwhile, "deploying our military forces on a regular basis and in diversified ways" and ensuring they can remain "both steadfast and flexible" in carrying out their operations are basic requirements for any military today.

Military training and combat preparedness are carried out by all countries. And it is China's way to always remain vigilant and be prepared to respond to any challenges. As the report states the preparedness of the military is a fundamental pillar for building a modern socialist country.

Military development should keep up with the great changes in forms and patterns of war as technology develops, and the report called for establishing a strong system of strategic deterrence and grasping the characteristics of modern informatized and intelligent warfare.

Improving military governance is another important task for the modernization of the military. In addition to addressing misconduct and corruption, the report set the goals of improving the structure and composition of the armed forces and refining the framework of military policies and institutions.

The command system is the key to the efficient operation of the military. The report outlines the command systems to be improved so that modern joint operations can be carried out effectively. The systems and capacity for reconnaissance and early warning and integrated logistics support will be enhanced. All of which are essential requirements for a modern military.

To regularize the armed forces also requires improving the law-based administration of military affairs, so reforms to improve the structure and composition of the armed forces will continue to be carried out to improve the performance of the military system, and put defense resources to better use.

The congress report highlights that the modernization of China's armed forces is not just to defend China's sovereignty, security, and development interests but also so that China can shoulder its responsibilities as a major country to help safeguard world peace and regional stability by means of international security cooperation.

Something that has been ignored amid the scaremongering of those opposed to China's rise is the report also provided specific approaches to secure international security by "building a world of lasting peace through dialogue and consultation, a world of universal security through collaboration and shared benefits, a world of common prosperity through mutually beneficial cooperation, an open and inclusive world through exchanges and mutual learning".

China plays an important role in global peacekeeping, and the report stressed that the Chinese people have "the confidence and the ability to make yet greater contributions to world peace and development".

A country's culture shapes its choice and behaviors. Believing "harmony is the most precious", China adheres to an active defense policy and proposes joint efforts to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Viewing China's military modernization objectively will prevent any misunderstanding of China's national defense policies. The report to the 20th National Congress of the CPC offers a perspective for doing so.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

The author is director of the academic council and a senior research fellow at the Shanghai Centre for RimPac Strategic and International Studies.

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