China mil­i­tary holds an­niver­sary pa­rade

PLA to up­hold com­bat ef­fec­tive­ness: Xi

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Cao Siqi

The mil­i­tary pa­rade com­mem­o­rat­ing the 90th an­niver­sary of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) show­cased China’s grow­ing mil­i­tary strength and high- lighted the achieve­ments of the coun­try’s mil­i­tary re­form, Chi­nese ex­perts said.

China on Sun­day held the mil­i­tary pa­rade at the Zhurihe mil­i­tary train­ing base in North China’s In­ner Mon­go­lia Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion. More than 12,000 ser­vice per­son­nel

from the army, navy, air force, armed po­lice as well as the newly formed rocket force and strate­gic sup­port troops took part in the pa­rade.

It was the first time for Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping to ob­serve such a large-scale pa­rade staged in the field. The pa­rade also marks the first time that China com­mem­o­rated Army Day, which falls on Au­gust 1, with a mil­i­tary pa­rade since the found­ing of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China in 1949.

Xi, also gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and chair­man of the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion, said on Sun­day the CPC and the Chi­nese peo­ple all take pride in the PLA, and or­dered the coun­try’s mil­i­tary to up­hold its com­bat ef­fec­tive­ness and mod­ern­ize the na­tional de­fense and armed forces.

Xi also stressed that the PLA has the con­fi­dence and ca­pa­bil­ity to de­feat all in­vad­ing en­e­mies and pro­tect­ing China’s na­tional sovereignty, se­cu­rity and in­ter­ests.

“Xi’s speech sent a clear sig­nal that China has the ca­pa­bil­ity of de­fend­ing the coun­try’s ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity and safe­guard­ing its safety and sta­bil­ity. It warned coun­tries not to hold any fan­tasy of [in­va­sion],” Li Daguang, a pro­fes­sor at the Na­tional De­fense Univer­sity of the PLA, told the Global Times.

Shift to prac­ti­cal tests

Dif­fer­ent from pre­vi­ous pa­rades, the pa­rade in Zhurihe did not fea­ture mil­i­tary bands or cho­rus, but in­stead played recorded mu­sic. Sol­diers wore bat­tle fa­tigues in­stead of dress uni­forms. More­over, more than 600 pieces of mil­i­tary hard­ware were dis­played with nearly half of the weapons be­ing new or mod­i­fied ver­sions that had hardly been shown in pub­lic be­fore.

Ex­perts noted that this pa­rade was a test of the re­sult of mil­i­tary re­forms and demon­strated the mil­i­tary’s strong com­bat abil­ity.

“The pa­rade showed that af­ter the mil­i­tary re­form, China’s mil­i­tary is com­mit­ted to be­com­ing a pow­er­ful force that is al­ways ready to fight, ca­pa­ble of com­bat and con­fi­dent to win,” said Xu Yan, a pro­fes­sor at the Na­tional De­fense Univer­sity of the PLA, adding that the pa­rade also de­liv­ered an im­por­tant mes­sage that the pa­rade may be car­ried out more reg­u­larly.

Yang Yu­cai, an­other pro­fes­sor from the PLA Na­tional De­fense Univer­sity, added that the mil­i­tary pa­rade in Zhurihe showed that China is shift­ing its fo­cus from cer­e­mo­nial demon­stra­tions to prac­ti­cal tests.

“China’s mil­i­tary has been un­der­go­ing huge changes in terms of equip­ment and train­ing through years of re­form. The same ap­plies to the mil­i­tary pa­rade,” said Yang, warn­ing that along with the rise of China, the mil­i­tary is fac­ing heav­ier bur­den in safe­guard­ing its rights, and that the coun­try needs a pow­er­ful force to de­ter ex­ter­nal threats.

Cut­ting-edge weapons

The PLA pa­rade troops were com­posed of a for­ma­tion of flag guards, a he­li­copter ech­e­lon of cel­e­bra­tion marks, and nine com­bat groups in­clud­ing land oper­a­tions, in­for­ma­tion oper­a­tions, spe­cial oper­a­tions, air and mis­sile de­fense, naval oper­a­tions, air oper­a­tions, com­pre­hen­sive sup­port, counter-ter­ror­ism, sta­bil­ity main­te­nance and strate­gic strikes.

China’s lat­est J-20 stealth fight­ers made their pa­rade de­but. The J-20 is China’s indige­nous fourth-gen­er­a­tion medium and long-range fighter jet. It made its maiden flight in 2011 and was first dis­played in pub­lic at the 11th Air­show China in Zhuhai, Guang­dong Prov­ince, in Novem­ber 2016.

Be­sides the J-20, J-16 fight­ers and Y-20 heavy trans­port air­craft were also among the new air­craft mak­ing pa­rade de­buts.

Other cut­ting-edge weapons like 8x8 all-ter­rain ve­hi­cles, radar-and­com­mu­ni­ca­tion jam­ming drones and solid-fuel in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal mis­siles were among about 600 pieces of mil­i­tary hard­ware on dis­play.

But the high­light of the pa­rade was the host of con­ven­tional and nu­clear mis­siles from the PLA’s newly es­tab­lished Rocket Force.

They in­clude the Dongfeng-26 bal­lis­tic mis­sile, which can be fired at short no­tice and fit­ted with a nu­clear war­head, the Dongfeng-21D land­based anti-ship bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­scribed by some as the “car­rier killer,” and the Dongfeng-16G con­ven­tional mis­sile de­signed for pre­ci­sion strikes against key en­emy tar­gets.

“Many pieces of mil­i­tary equip­ment dis­played in this pa­rade are suit­able for com­bat in com­plex ter­rain. For ex­am­ple, the in­fantry fight­ing ve­hi­cles, air-de­fense mis­siles and self-pro­pelled guns are suit­able for op­er­a­tion in moun­tain­ous ar­eas. Some of them have al­ready been de­ployed in the Ti­betan Plateau,” Song Zhong­ping, a mil­i­tary ex­pert who served in the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times on Sun­day. Xin­hua con­trib­uted to this story

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