PLA must improve its combat ability
Ninety years ago, on August 1, just after bloody battles during the Northern Expedition (1926-28), the Communist Party of China initiated the Nanchang Uprising in 1927 to counter the anti-communist purges by the Kuomintang. That was the beginning of the CPC’s efforts to build an army aimed at serving the people, and establish a government of the people and for the people.
The CPC then established a revolutionary base in the border region of Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi provinces. After that, led by the Party, the army initiated the land revolution and embarked on the Long March (1934-35), whose longest route was about 12,000 kilometers from Jiangxi to Shaanxi.
The Japanese invasion of China, which began in 1931, eventually led to the establishment of the Second United Front between the Kuomintang and the CPC in 1937, with the Eighth Route Army and New Fourth Army emerging victorious in many battles in northern and southern China. The CPC-led armies were not only supplementary forces on the battle frontlines in the early phase of the war against the Japanese invaders, they also played the bigger role in guarding the nation against the invaders in the later stage of the war.
The People’s Liberation Army, a term first used in 1945 and formally adopted by the Party in 1948, developed rapidly and fought bravely to liberate the people from the corrupt Kuomintang government in the years following Japan’s surrender in World War II in 1945, paving the way for the establishment of New China in 1949.
Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the PLA has been the mainstay of national defense and the pillar of national development and security. The PLA has always put the fundamental interest of the nation and people first, exhibited a strong fighting spirit and made great sacrifices to defend the nation’s sovereignty and integrity.
In the Korean War (1950-53), the Chinese People’s Volunteers Army, a special wing of the PLA, bravely fought against troops armed with more sophisticated weapons and equipment, and consolidated China’s s regional strategic position.
In the Sino-Indian border war in 1962, the PLA defended the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and since then has maintained stability in border regions.
Decades of defending the country has taught the PLA to keep modernizing itself and improving its ability to deal with any eventuality to maintain a peaceful environment. As a result, the PLA has transformed into a modern military capable of both attack and defense. In the ever-changing strategic environment, the PLA has maintained its composure, characteristics, people-oriented work and has accepted the Party’s absolute leadership and served the people wholeheartedly.
The PLA shoulders the responsibility of safeguarding the nation, and dealing with increasingly severe challenges, territorial disputes and maritime interests. It has also actively participated in rescue and relief operations during natural disasters, countered terrorism, and maintained cyber and space security.
Besides, the PLA carries the hopes of the people and will continue to improve its capability to counter security threats based on the principle of building unity between the military and civilians.
The PLA should now endeavor to become a higher-caliber military, conduct training under computer-simulated conditions, and enhance its integrated combat capability based on extensive application of information technology. To meet new challenges that have emerged due to various national strategic factors and maintain domestic stability, the PLA needs new contributions, which will also help it to safeguard regional security and world peace, combat terrorism, and deal with natural and other disasters.
In the 21st century, the PLA has been participating in many United Nations peacekeeping missions in some of the most dangerous countries and regions of the world. China today accounts for the highest number of peacekeepers among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. PLA soldiers protect local residents’ life and property in these countries and regions, tirelessly build roads and bridges, and provide humanitarian aid and medical treatment for the local residents.
The PLA Navy has cooperated with other countries’ navies, sent its fleets to escort ships in the Gulf of Aden, thwarted piracy and guarded international navigation routes. The China International Search and Rescue Team has selflessly provided aid for people and countries struck by natural disasters, and won their trust and friendships. In some areas of conflicts, the PLA has cooperated with the troops of other countries, rescued migrants and accomplished humanitarian missions, and ensured the safety and security of civilians, winning great honor for China.
With the global strategic environment changing and China’s comprehensive power growing, the PLA is prepared to cope with the new challenges of security. Under the able leadership and guidance of Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, the reform of national defense and the modernization of the military have deepened. And thanks to such efforts, the PLA has transformed from a quantity-oriented to a quality-conscious force.
The reform of national defense has also helped the PLA carry out major changes in various fields to make the management of troops more scientific and reasonable, the security system and policies more effective, military and civilian integration smoother, national defense resources more integrated, and the national defense mobilization system more comprehensive. Military colleges and military scientific research institutions now have to work with each other to meet the needs of national defense construction and help prepare the PLA for modern combat.
The PLA will stay true to its mission and keep improving its ability to deal with eventualities through innovation and practice. And as a force built by the people, for the people, the PLA will more steadfastly safeguard national security and interests.
Decades of defending the country has taught the PLA to keep modernizing itself and improving its ability to deal with any eventuality to maintain a peaceful environment.
The author is a professor at the National Defense University of the PLA.