Reform advisers come into view
Top think tank’s members emerge as PLA overhauled
A mysterious think tank behind China’s substantial military reform has emerged into public view, amid President Xi Jinping’s calls for stronger armed forces.
As the country began a major overhaul of the People’s Liberation Army in 2013, the Central Military Commission — China’s top military organ — set up a leading group for deepening national defense and military reform.
Since then, massive reforms have occurred in the PLA, including the introduction of five theater commands covering five parts of the country.
Cai Hongshuo, deputy head of the expert advisory panel to the military’s leading reform team, briefed leaders during a study seminar on Wednesday held by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, the Party’s top organ, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The seminar focused on national defense and military reform, and Cai “delivered a lecture on the issue and offered some suggestions” before key members of the Party, including Xi, according to Xinhua.
The current rank of Cai, previously known as a researcher with the Central Military Commission’s General Office, is not clear. Cai is the first member of the advisory body to appear on China Central Television’s prime time news.
Another team deputy, Liu Jixian, a retired lieutenant general and former vicepresident of the PLA Academy of Military Science, first made his current title public last year when he wrote a foreword for a book about military reform.
Yang Zhiqi, 70, another retired PLA lieutenant general and former assistant general chief of staff, emerged as the team’s chief at a meeting in Beijing in March about defense industry integration, according to an online report by China Securities Journal.
Yin Zhuo, director of the Expert Consultation Committee of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, said one of the priorities of military reform is to seek greater advantage in military technologies and to increase the contribution of technological innovation to combat capabilities.
Li Chen, an expert on strategic issue studies at Renmin University of China, said the emergence of the team’s members “will help the outside world better understand the ongoing military reform”.
“Their previous posts are important. Taking Liu as an example, his PLA Academy of Military Science is a leading think tank for the Central Military Commission. ... Their career backgrounds offer a wide range of relevant studies and practices on the front line,” Li said.
Li also noted that the expert team is only one of the brain power sources supporting the military reform, and that many seminars have been held.
PLA Daily, the military’s official newspaper, unveiled some details about the intended role of the advisory team in December.
The overall plan for the reform “combines both decision-making by the leaders and assistance by the experts”, and ideas have been solicited from more than 900 retired officers and experts, the PLA Daily report said.
Their career backgrounds offer a wide range of relevant studies and practices on the front line.”
Li Chen, an expert on strategic issue studies at Renmin University of China