Re­form ad­vis­ers come into view

Top think tank’s mem­bers emerge as PLA over­hauled

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHANG YUNBI zhangyunbi@chi­

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

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