Chi­nese Pres­i­dent urges need for ‘world-class’ army loyal to party

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Bei­jing, China - Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping stressed the need to build a world-class mil­i­tary, ca­pa­ble of ‘de­feat­ing all in­vad­ing en­e­mies’ and loyal to the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party, at a ma­jor pa­rade on Sun­day.

The event - fea­tur­ing 12,000 ser­vice per­son­nel and about 700 air­craft and pieces of ground equip­ment - marked the 90th an­niver­sary of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA), now the world’s largest mil­i­tary.

It was the first time Xi has ob­served a pa­rade of this size staged in the field, ac­cord­ing to the De­fence Min­istry.

Since com­ing to power in 2012, the Pres­i­dent has trum­peted the need to build a stronger com­bat-ready mil­i­tary, while lead­ing ef­forts to cen­tralise the Com­mu­nist Party’s con­trol over it.

“The world is not all at peace. Peace must be safe­guarded,” Xi, wear­ing a cam­ou­flage mil­i­tary uni­form, said in a speech at the ex­pan­sive Zhurihe train­ing base in the In­ner Mon­go­lia Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion.

“To­day we are closer than ever be­fore to the goal of the great re­ju­ve­na­tion of the Chi­nese na­tion, and - more than any other time in his­tory - we need to build a strong peo­ple’s mil­i­tary,” he said.

“I be­lieve that our heroic army has the con­fi­dence and ca­pa­bil­ity to de­feat all in­vad­ing en­e­mies.”

Xi also or­dered the PLA to ‘unswerv­ingly stick to... the party’s ab­so­lute lead­er­ship’, say­ing the mil­i­tary should ‘march to wher­ever the party is point­ing’.

De­fence Min­istry spokesman Ren Guo­qiang said in a state­ment that the pa­rade was in- tended to cre­ate a ‘good at­mos­phere’ be­fore a cru­cial party congress later this year, at which Xi is ex­pected to fur­ther con­sol­i­date his grip on power.

At Zhurihe, a base ex­tend­ing more than 1,000sqkm, rows upon rows of sol­diers marched in per­fect uni­son and he­li­copters flew over­head in a ‘90’ for­ma­tion.

The Pres­i­dent stood in an open-top jeep that drove past ranks of troops for his in­spec­tion.

“Com­rades, thanks for your hard work!” he said, to which the troops re­sponded: “Serve the peo­ple!”

China an­nounced in March it would raise its de­fence spend­ing by around seven per cent this year, the slow­est an­nual per­cent­age in­crease since 1991.

Bei­jing is en­gaged in a decades-long build-up and mod­erni­sa­tion of its once-back­ward armed forces, as it seeks mil­i­tary clout com­men­su­rate with its eco­nomic might and in­creas­ingly as­serts its dis­puted ter­ri­to­rial claims in Asian wa­ters.

Xi an­nounced in 2015 that he would cut China’s mil­i­tary by 300,000 - though at its re­duced size of around two mil­lion, it will still re­main the world’s largest mil­i­tary.

The Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) also en­com­passes the navy and air force.

The PLA, orig­i­nally called the Chi­nese Work­ers’ and Peas­ants’ Red Army, was founded in 1927 when Com­mu­nist sol­diers seized the south­ern town of Nan­chang from Na­tion­al­ist Party (‘Kuom­intang’) armies in what is known to­day as the Nan­chang up­ris­ing.

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