China’s Xi Jinping urges need for ‘world-class’ army loyal to Party

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China’s President Xi Jinping addresses 12,000 troops during an unprecedented display of China’s military muscle in Inner Mongolia.

BEIJING (AFP, REUTERS) – Chinese President Xi Jinping touted the need to build a “world-class” army capable of “defeating all invading enemies” at a military parade held Sunday (July 30) to mark the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Since coming to power in 2012, the president has trumpeted building a stronger, combat-ready army, while leading efforts to centralise the ruling Communist Party’s control over the PLA, the world’s largest standing military.

Sunday’s procession – including 12,000 service personnel and about 700 aircrafts and pieces of ground equipment – marked the first time Xi has observed a parade of this size staged in the field, according to the ministry of defence.

“The world is not all at peace. Peace must be safeguarded,” Xi, wearing a camouflage military suit, 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.”

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.”

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Defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement that the parade was intended to create a “good atmosphere” ahead of an important party congress later this year when Xi is expected to further consolidate his grip on power.

China’s armed forces, the world’s largest, are in the midst of an ambitious modernisation programme, from restructuring to troop cuts and investment in technology and equipment upgrades, such as acquiring stealth fighters and aircraft carriers.

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Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops march in formation Sunday, July 30, 2017 as they arrive for a military parade to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA on Aug. 1 at Zhurihe training base in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. (Ju Zhenhua/Xinhua via AP)

Xi inspected troops from the back of a jeep and the event was carried live on state television.

Travelling down a long strip lined with tanks, missile launchers and other military vehicles, Xi greeted thousands of troops.

Xi, who oversees the PLA in his role as head of the powerful Central Military Commission, repeatedly shouted, “Hello comrades!” and “Comrades, you are working hard!” into four microphones fixed atop his motorcade as martial music blared in the background.

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People dressed as Red Army soldiers carry flags as they march to mark the 90th anniversary of founding of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), in Ruijin, Jiangxi province on July 28, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

The troops bellowed back: “Serve the people!”, “Follow the Party!”, “Fight to win!” and “Forge exemplary conduct!”.

Tanks, vehicle-mounted nuclear-capable missiles and other equipment rolled by, as military aircraft flew above, including H-6K bombers, which have been patrolling near Taiwan and Japan recently, the J-15 carrier-based fighters and new generation J-20 stealth fighter.

It was the first time China has marked Army Day, which formally falls on Aug 1, with a military parade since the Communist revolution in 1949, state news agency Xinhua said.

China’s military is more nimble and technologically proficient following reforms to make it more compact and responsive, rather than just relying on strength of numbers, Xi said last week.

China has not fought a war in decades and the government insists it has no hostile intent, simply needing the ability to properly defend what is now the world’s second-largest economy.

But China has rattled nerves around Asia and globally with its increasingly assertive stance in the East and South China Seas and its military modernisation plan.

The military reforms have not been uncontroversial, with unease in particular about the 300,000 troop cuts Xi announced in 2015 at a massive military parade through central Beijing to mark 70 years since the end of World War II.



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One Response to “China’s Xi Jinping urges need for ‘world-class’ army loyal to Party”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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