Posts Tagged ‘China’s armed forces’

China’s military flexes muscles for domestic objective: more funding

February 28, 2018


BEIJING (Reuters) – With stealth jets entering service, leaked pictures of new high-tech naval artillery and proud reports of maneuvers that “dare to shine the sword,” China’s armed forces are putting on a show of power as they lobby for greater defense spending.

Although it is the world’s largest military, the People’s Liberation Army has been privately unhappy that it got less than double-digit funding increases the past two years. It has recently been making the case that it needs more money to deal with increased global uncertainty, diplomats and several sources with ties to the armed forces say.

In the run-up to the defense budget’s release at the annual meeting of China’s parliament next week, state media outlets have been filled with coverage of military drills, advanced new equipment and thrilling tales of derring-do in a new film very loosely based on China’s evacuating people from Yemen’s civil war in 2015.

The overall message is clear: China faces serious challenges, from U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats of force against nuclear-armed North Korea to an increasingly tense border dispute with India and what Beijing sees as efforts by self-ruled Taiwan to assert its sovereignty.

Confronting those challenges requires cash, a point the military is now trying to drive home.

“If you keep telling your people China is facing all these threats, you have to be able to back it up to show you are spending enough,” said a senior Beijing-based Western diplomat.

President Xi Jinping promised in his keynote speech to the Communist Party Congress in October to make China’s armed forces world-class by the middle of the century. The military has deployed an increasingly sophisticated propaganda machine to make sure that promise stays top of mind.

Image result for China’s armed forces, pictures

A professionally shot air force video released to celebrate the Lunar New Year this month entitled “New fighters of the great power to safeguard the new era” led with footage of the latest fighter to enter service, the J-20 stealth jet, designed as a counterpart to the radar-evading the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.

“It looks like they are making the case for a large rise in defense spending,” said an Asian diplomat, speaking of the recent uptick in military-related stories in China.

Image result for China’s armed forces, pictures


China’s defense spending is only about one-quarter that of the United States, if official figures are accurate. China has repeatedly said that it has no hostile intent, that its military is for defensive missions, and that defense spending is transparent.

Many of the country’s neighbors beg to differ, calling out what they see as Chinese sabre-rattling as it ramps up drills in the region.

Vietnam, one of the most vocal opponents of China’s South China Sea claims, has tightened its military relationship with the United States. Taiwan has pledged to grow defense spending, and wants to buy new, advanced U.S. equipment.

The official People’s Liberation Army Daily said this month that although China was committed to a defensive military policy, it had to “dare to shine the sword” with air patrols far from China’s coast, whether close to Taiwan or over uninhabited islets disputed with Japan in the East China Sea.

Such flights, it said, protected China’s “bottom line” on strategic issues.

One source with ties to the military said another pressing area for more spending was salaries, which have not kept up with those of private-sector workers.

“Simply relying on ‘the great Xi to lead us to victory’ won’t cut it,” the source said, referring to efforts to recruit the best and the brightest into the military by appealing to national pride.


The defense budget will only disclose a top-line number, with a percentage comparison to the previous year. No breakdown on spending is provided.

Last year, China’s parliament did not initially release the figure, sparking questions over transparency. But when it did, the budget increase was 7 percent, the smallest in more than a decade.

The budgeted increase of 7.6 percent for 2016 was the lowest in six years and the first single-digit rise since 2010, following a nearly unbroken two-decade run of double-digit increases.

Experts say the true figure is likely much higher than what is officially reported, with money for some military projects included in ostensibly non-military spending.

“Particularly given China’s civil-military integration, it is difficult to know where defense spending ends” and civilian research and development begins, said another Western diplomat, who analyses China’s military.

Some defense experts say that China is eroding the United States’ military technology dominance and that the People’s Liberation Army could surpass the U.S. military in artificial intelligence capabilities, which have become a spending priority for Beijing.

But in the absence of transparency about new technologies, such as an experimental electromagnetic railgun state media suggested this year was being tested aboard a Chinese warship, there is skepticism about their combat readiness.

China has not fought a war since 1979, a brief invasion of Vietnam that ended badly for China.

China’s Defense Ministry declined to comment ahead of the figure being released by parliament. The general percentage rise is typically given the day before parliament opens, and the raw figure the next day. Parliament opens March 5.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina; Editing by Gerry Doyle


Djibouti: China’s armed forces send message of combat readiness at China’s only overseas base

September 26, 2017

China’s armed forces send message of combat readiness to Djibouti militants and other potential attackers, observers say

By Minnie Chan
South China Morning Post
Monday, 25 September, 2017, 11:28pm

Troops from China’s only overseas base have staged their first live-fire drills in what military analysts said was a major show of combat readiness.

The exercises in Djibouti on Friday involved dozens of officers and took place at the country’s national gendarmerie training range, the People’s Liberation Army Navy said in an online report.

Troops arrived at the base – China’s first overseas garrison – less than two months ago and the drill was meant to test the personnel’s capacity to handle a range of weapons and tasks in extreme heat, humidity and salinity, the report said.

Temperatures in the African nation routinely rise above 40 degrees Celsius at this time of year.

“This is the first time our soldiers stationed in Djibouti have left the camp to conduct combat training,” base commander Liang Yang was quoted as saying.

“The live-fire training will help explore a new training model for the [Chinese] overseas garrison.”

Image result for Djibouti, map

Footage aired by state-run CCTV showed PLA marine corps using various weapons – from pistols to automatic rifles, sniper rifles and machine guns – to fire at targets.

Beijing-based military expert Li Jie said the troops had to be on combat alert at all times because of the region’s complex political conditions and Djibouti’s geographic importance.

 The drills were designed to test the personnel’s capacity to handle a range of weapons and tasks in extreme heat and humidity. Photo: Handout

The African nation is at the southern entrance to the Red Sea along the route to the Suez Canal, and Eritrea and Somalia. It also hosts US, Japanese and French bases.

“The PLA troops based in Djibouti should be able to protect themselves and resist attacks from terrorists, pirates, local armed forces, or even foreign troops,” Li said.

China’s Procuratorial Daily, the top prosecutor’s official newspaper, reported earlier that a Japanese naval vessel sent divers to approach a Chinese warship as both vessels were docking at Djibouti. Without specifying the time of the encounter, the report said Chinese naval troops used “a strong light and a verbal warning” to drive away the Japanese divers.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force established a base in Djibouti in 2011, and Tokyo said last year it was considering expanding the facility.

China began building what it describes as a logistics base in Djibouti last year, but docking facilities for navy ships, barracks and other military equipment are still under development.

The 36-hectare base will resupply vessels taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia.

 The exercises were the first time troops had left the facility for combat training. Photo: Handout

Beijing-based military commentator Zhou Chenming said the high-profile drills were a message to local militants “not to harass” the PLA troops.

“Since the political situation in Djibouti is very unstable, the troops need to let local armed groups know of their combat strength. They need to tell them that the Chinese forces are there not only to set up the logistics base but must also be able to deal with all kinds of security challenges,” Zhou said.

South China Sea: Recent Developments Reviewed After South Korean Coast Guard Vessel Rammed and Sunk by China in the Yellow Sea

October 10, 2016

A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest key developments in the South China Sea, home to several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.



The Philippine defense chief said he told the U.S. military that plans for joint patrols and naval exercises in the disputed South China Sea have been put on hold, the first concrete break in defense cooperation after months of increasingly strident comments by the country’s new president.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also said that 107 U.S. troops involved in operating surveillance drones against Muslim militants would be asked to leave the southern part of the country once the Philippines acquires those intelligence-gathering capabilities in the near future.

President Rodrigo Duterte also wants to halt the 28 military exercises that are carried out with U.S. forces each year, Lorenzana said. Duterte has said he wants an ongoing U.S.-Philippine amphibious beach landing exercise to be the last in his six-year presidency as he backs away from what he views as too much dependence on the U.S.

In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. government is not aware of any official notification on curtailing military exercises. He said the U.S. remains focused on its security commitments to the Philippines, with which it has a mutual defense treaty.



Indonesia’s air force flew over the South China Sea in a show of its determination to prevent foreign encroachment into territory rich in energy and fishing resources.

Dozens of aircraft including fighter jets and helicopters and more than 2,000 air force personnel joined in the operation Thursday near Indonesia’s Natuna Islands. The intended audience appeared to be China, whose claim to virtually the entire waterbody stops just short of the islands.

Although it does not claim disputed territory in the South China Sea, Indonesia has shown a growing determination to confront Chinese and other foreign ships poaching fish in the area, destroying dozens of them in recent months.

Chinese fishing boats are frequently assisted by the country’s coast guard and navy and some operate as a form of seagoing militia. China considers the area its traditional fishing ground.

China’s Foreign Ministry released a statement of protest in June after the Indonesian navy fired on one of its fishing vessels, saying it had “abused its military force.” It said one fisherman was injured in the incident.

Indonesia responded by saying it would continue to take “decisive” action against foreign ships operating illegally in waters under its jurisdiction.



The South China Sea dispute is overshadowing an international military forum in Beijing that China hopes will boost its regional influence in military affairs.

The seventh Xiangshan Forum gets underway Monday with a keynote address by a member of the Central Military Commission that oversees China’s 2.3 million-member armed forces. While China generally tries to avoid friction at such events that it hosts, the three days of meetings will offer plenty of opportunities for discussion of the dispute.

Adding to its anger over a ruling by an international arbitration panel favoring the Philippines in its challenge to China’s territorial claims, Beijing is now feuding with Singapore over a Chinese state newspaper’s accusations that the city-state is becoming inappropriately involved in the dispute.

Singapore accused the Global Times, a nationalist Chinese state-run newspaper, of fabricating details in a report that it said falsely depicted the city-state’s conduct at a recent summit in Venezuela.

The report triggered an unusually public dispute between Singapore’s ambassador to China and the chief editor of the tabloid newspaper, which is published by the ruling Communist Party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily.

The forum also comes less than two weeks after South Korea announced the site for an advanced U.S. missile defense system, further stoking outrage in Beijing, which says the system’s radars can peer deep into northeastern China, threatening its security.

China hopes the Xiangshan Forum can be a challenger to the annual Shangri-la Dialogue held in Singapore. Its theme this year is “Build a New Type of International Relations through Security Dialogue and Cooperation.” Topics for its panels include increasing maritime security cooperation and counter-terrorism work.


South Korean coast guard vessel sunk by China in the Yellow Sea


Seoul said it has lodged a formal complaint with Beijing accusing Chinese fishing boats of ramming and sinking a South Korean coast guard vessel.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said it summoned a senior Chinese diplomat and complained about the sinking last Friday.

Seoul said the incident happened when the coast guard vessel was trying to stop Chinese fishing boats from fishing illegally off South Korea’s west coast. No injuries were reported.

South Korean media reports said coast guard officers fired shots at the Chinese fishing boats as they approached the South Korean vessel.

The coast guard confirmed that warning shots were fired into the sky, but said it does not know if any were fired at the Chinese boats.


Associated Press writers Teresa Cerojano in San Antonio, Philippines, and Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.


South Korea complains to China over sinking of coast guard vessel

Mon Oct 10, 2016
This photo released by South Korean Defence Ministry shows South Korean soldiers on a patrol boat conducting an operation to drive out Chinese fishing boats from neutral waters close to the disputed sea border with North Korea on June 10, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
This photo released by South Korean Defence Ministry shows South Korean soldiers on a patrol boat conducting an operation to drive out Chinese fishing boats from neutral waters close to the disputed sea border with North Korea on June 10, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Seoul says it has lodged a formal complaint with Beijing over the alleged sinking of a South Korean coast guard vessel by Chinese fishermen.

The incident reportedly took place on Friday when the South Korean coast guard said its forces were trying to stop Chinese boats from allegedly fishing off South Korea’s coast.

The guard said one of its 4.5-ton speed boats was sunk when a 100-ton Chinese boat intentionally rammed it.

No causalities or injuries were reported, according to South Korea’s coast guard.

“The incident is regrettable,” South Korean presidential spokesman Jung Youn-kuk told reporters during a regular briefing on Monday.

On Sunday, the South’s Foreign Ministry and its Coast Guard separately summoned senior Chinese diplomats based in Seoul to lodge formal protests over the incident and urge Beijing to prevent recurrences.

This photo released by South Korean Defense Ministry on June 10, 2016 shows South Korean patrol boats forcing Chinese fishing boats from disputed waters.(Photo by AFP)


The Chinese side expressed regret over the incident, according to the ministry.

An official in Beijing said Chinese authorities were still looking into the incident and called on South Korea to exercise restraint over the incident.

“We hope the South Korean side can bear in mind the large picture of the bilateral relationship and regional peace, and handle the case reasonably with a level head,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a regular briefing.

South Korean military boat: North Korea abandons truce as tensions rise over nuclear test

A South Korean military boat (lower) powers out of its sea base off Yeonpyeong Island in disputed waters in the Yellow Sea Photo: AFP

Numerous incidents have occurred in recent years between South Korea’s coast guard and Chinese fishing boats venturing across international waters in search of fish.

Recently, three Chinese fishermen died after their fishing boat was set on fire by South Korean coast guards who threw grenades into their vessel.


 (The Philippines seems to be siding with China, Russia and Iran)


China’s military hospitals offer illegal experimental cures

July 11, 2016


Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:06am EDT

For student Wei Zexi, the lure of a miracle cure was hard to resist: he was dying from a rare cancer and a well-known Beijing hospital was offering treatment with an 80 percent chance of success and no side effects. It was, the hospital said, the ideal choice.

There was a problem: The military-run hospital did not have regulatory approval to offer the immunotherapy course it sold to Wei at a steep fee. The treatment itself – while promising – is widely considered by global cancer specialists to be at the experimental stage.

Wei died at the age of 21, and the outcry his case provoked has thrown a spotlight on hundreds of hospitals run by branches of China’s armed forces.

Reuters’ interviews with patients, doctors and lawyers show that military-run medical facilities across the country regularly provide – and advertise – treatments that are not approved by the Chinese Health Ministry.

Among a sample of around two dozen of the hundreds of military hospitals around China, Reuters found roughly four-fifths offered some kind of immunotherapy on their websites. Some of them said they had used it to treat thousands of patients.

The ready availability of unapproved treatments at major hospitals around China underlines serious regulatory blind spots in a healthcare system treating 1.4 billion people and which is the world’s second largest drugs market behind the United States.

Military authorities have acknowledged fault at the Second Hospital of Beijing Armed Police Corps, where Wei was treated. They would not comment on practices at other facilities. The hospital itself did not respond to requests for comment.

China’s health ministry said that, while immunotherapy had great potential, there were still question marks around safety and effectiveness. It has never been approved for commercial clinical use in China, the ministry said in a statement to Reuters. Immunotherapy is classed as a category three treatment, meaning it is “ethically problematic”, “high risk” or “still in need of clinical verification”.

However, China’s health ministry has little oversight over military hospitals because its jurisdiction largely concerns the civilian health system. The military facilities come under the control of the armed forces.

Lawyers involved in the healthcare sector say the combination of military oversight and the frequent civilian use create gray areas about whether national laws apply and how they should be enforced.

The health ministry would not comment on the wider issue of regulation of military hospitals. The defense ministry referred Reuters to a statement made at a regular news briefing in May in which it acknowledged the hospital in the Wei case had acted illegally. It said oversight of such hospitals would be improved, but did not say how.

The Reuters review also showed that many of the hospitals surveyed offered patients stem cell therapy, a treatment which is only approved in China for clinical trials. The health ministry said in August last year research into stem cells to treat or prevent diseases was developing fast, but it was concerned some hospitals were violating government regulations to offer such treatments to boost profits.

Shanghai-based Yuan Liming, a partner at law firm Jones Day, said there is another problem: military hospitals often allow third-parties to operate clinics within the hospital grounds. The health ministry told Reuters it was illegal for hospitals to sub-contract certain therapies to private clinics and that it would investigate any public hospitals doing so. “It clearly violates Chinese law, but it’s common,” said Yuan.


Some military hospitals are regarded, alongside university hospitals, as among the country’s best medical facilities.

They are overseen by military bodies such as the People’s Armed Police, a paramilitary force that answers to the powerful Central Military Commission headed by President Xi Jinping.

“Military hospitals, generally speaking, are not subject to administration and monitoring by the health ministry, but are subject to supervision by the Central Military Commission,” said Yuan.

There is no indication any of the military hospitals contacted by Reuters had special exemption to offer immunotherapy treatment. The Second Hospital of Beijing Armed Police Corps was not approved.

Another hospital, the General Hospital of Shenyang Military, said on its website it treated more than 1,600 people with a number of immunotherapy treatments. No one at the hospital was willing to comment.

Others, including the 302 Military Hospital of China in Beijing, the 101st People’s Liberation Army in Wuxi, the Nanjing General Hospital and People’s Liberation Army No. 202 Hospital said on their websites they had used immunotherapy treatment.

Repeated calls to the Nanjing hospital and the No. 202 hospital went unanswered. The 302 Military hospital and the 101st PLA hospital said they had stopped offering the therapy and declined to comment further.

Gong Xiaoming, a senior Beijing-based gynecologist and former physician at the prestigious Peking Union Medical College Hospital, said the main problem was the small private clinics used by military hospitals. Without tighter regulation the illegal provision of immunotherapy and other banned treatments would likely continue, he said.

Such clinics, though separate businesses, often operate on a hospital’s premises and under its license, putting them in another regulatory gray area, say lawyers and doctors.

“It’s like guerrilla warfare,” said Gong. “Every few years they change location or change name and emerge once more.”


In Wei’s case the hospital had contracted Shanghai-based private immunotherapy technology company Shanghai Claison.

Claison was not available for comment and a guard who answered the phone said everyone had “gone on holiday”.

Other patients complain of being given pricey and unnecessary treatments by military hospitals.

A receptionist at a steel trading company, who asked to be identified only by her family name Xu, went to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) 411 Hospital in Shanghai in 2014 seeking treatment for ovarian cysts, a common condition.

The doctor suggested infra-red therapy and she underwent three days of treatment at 700 yuan ($105) per session, eventually spending a total of 8,000 yuan.

Concerned with the ongoing treatment, she went to another doctor and was told she had only needed a small surgical procedure costing 500 yuan. That treatment was successful, she said.

“Everyone trusts doctors,” Xu, 25, told Reuters. “With this infrared therapy, they make you do it every day, and every day they charge you hundreds of yuan. It’s all about making money. “The PLA 411 Hospital said it was not aware of the case and hadn’t heard of any other patient complaints.


Before he died, Wei accused the Second Hospital of Beijing Armed Police Corps, and the search engine Baidu Inc that he had used to find it, of misleading advertising and disseminating false medical information.

China’s health ministry said an investigation after Wei’s death revealed “serious problems” at the hospital. It was found to have been illegally working with a private healthcare partner, unlawfully advertising services and using unauthorized clinical technology, the ministry said.

The hospital did not respond to repeated calls seeking comment.

China’s cyberspace regulator has since imposed limits on healthcare adverts carried by Baidu, which controls 80 percent of the Chinese search market, and the company’s CEO has called on employees to put values before profit.

Baidu, which has since cut its revenue forecast, has said it accepted the regulator’s decision and it would implement the requirements placed on it following the investigation.

As with other forms of immunotherapy the treatment given to Wei, known as “DC-CIK”, uses the patient’s own immune system to fight disease.

Archived articles and posts on the official website of the hospital that treated Wei, currently blocked, describe the treatment as well-proven. One, dated Aug. 12, 2013, said the success rate was more than 80 percent.

In another article, dated Sept. 26, 2015, it wrote that immunotherapy treatment had saved a late-stage cancer patient who had been given six months to live. Another patient with kidney cancer was completely cured.

Doctors questioned by Reuters, however, said the claims made by Wei’s hospital overstated the potential effects.

“Response rates to DC-CIK which are not approved – and in fact to all current immunotherapy – are modest,” said Andrew Furness, an immunotherapy expert at University College London.

“Patients coming towards the end of their life or having exhausted all treatment options should not be given false hope,” he said.

($1 = 6.6881 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Additional reporting by SHANGHAI newsroom and BEIJING newsroom; Editing by Alex Richardson and Martin Howell)


Will China’s Military Stay Loyal To Xi Jinping?

September 21, 2015

By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) – Bitterness is growing within China’s armed forces to President Xi Jinping’s decision to cut troop numbers by 300,000 and considerable effort will be needed to overcome opposition to the order, according to a source and commentaries in the military’s newspaper.

Xi made the unexpected announcement on Sept. 3 at a military parade in Beijing marking 70 years since the end of World War Two in Asia. The move would reduce by 13 percent one of the world’s biggest militaries, currently 2.3-million strong.

One government official, who meets regularly with senior officers, said some inside the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) felt the announcement had been rushed and taken by Xi with little consultation outside the Central Military Commission. Xi heads the commission, which has overall command of the military.

File photo of soldiers of the People's Liberation …

“It’s been too sudden,” the source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“People are very worried. A lot of good officers will lose their jobs and livelihoods. It’s going to be tough for soldiers.”

China’s Defence Ministry, in a statement sent to Reuters, said the “broad mass” of officers and soldiers “resolutely endorsed the important decision of the (Communist) Party center and Central Military Commission and obey orders”.

It has said the cuts, the fourth since the 1980s, would be mostly completed by the end of 2017.

Experts say the move is likely part of long-mooted rationalization plans, which have included changing the PLA command structure so it less resembles a Soviet-era model and spending more money on the navy and air force as Beijing asserts its territorial claims in the disputed South and East China Seas.

Chinese troops on parade in Beijing, September 3, 2015

Soon after Xi’s announcement, the official Xinhua news agency published a long article quoted soldiers as supporting the decision.

Each branch of the armed forces believed the cuts would raise quality standards, Xinhua said.

Commentaries in the PLA Daily newspaper have since warned that the reductions would be hard to carry out. Chinese state media often run commentaries that reflect the official line of the institution publishing the newspaper.


The cuts come at a time of heightened economic uncertainty in China as growth slows, its stock markets tumble and the leadership grapples with painful but needed economic reforms.

China has previously faced protests from demobilized soldiers, who have complained about a lack of support finding new jobs or help with financial problems.

A protest by thousands of former soldiers over pensions was reported in June, although the Defence Ministry denied any knowledge of the incident.

The PLA is already reeling from Xi’s crackdown on deep-seated corruption in China, which has seen dozens of officers investigated, including two former vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission.

Barely a week after the Beijing parade, the PLA newspaper said the troop cuts and other military reforms Xi wished to undertake would require “an assault on fortified positions” to change mindsets and root out vested interests, and that the difficulties expected would be “unprecedented”.

If these reforms failed, measures still to come would be “nothing more than an empty sheet of paper”, it said.

It did not give details on the planned reforms.

But state media has said they will likely involve better integration of all PLA branches. As part of this move, China’s seven military regions, which have separate command structures that tend to focus on ground-based operations, are expected to be reduced.

There had been no previous suggestion big troop cuts were planned.


Another commentary in the PLA Daily published a week later detailed the kind of opposition Xi faced.

“Some units suffer from inertia and think everything’s already great. Some are scared of hardships, blame everyone and everything but themselves … They shirk work and find ways of avoiding difficulty,” the commentary said.

A second government source, who is close to the PLA, said military song and dance assemblies, which traditionally entertain troops, would be the first to go.

“The defense budget will not be cut. It will continue to gradually increase,” the source added.

China’s military budget for this year rose 10.1 percent to 886.9 billion yuan ($139.39 billion), the second largest in the world after the United States.

Some retired Chinese generals have supported the troop cuts.

“A bloated military can only cause ineffectual expenditure and forfeited battles,” retired Major-General Luo Yuan, a prominent Chinese military figure, wrote in the Global Times newspaper three days after Xi’s announcement.

Major-General Luo Yuan

Xu Guangyu, a retired major general and now a senior army arms control advisor said: “Our country’s military needs to take the path of modernization … These force reductions are an effort to stay on this path and increase quality not numbers.”

($1 = 6.36 Chinese yuan)

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina and Benjamin Kang Lim; Editing by Dean Yates)



Chinese military paper warns a corrupt army does not win wars

August 2, 2015


Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

Former Chinese Central Military Commission vice-chairman Guo Boxiong. Reuters photo

BEIJING (REUTERS) – The Chinese military’s official newspaper warned on Sunday that a corrupt army would not win wars, three days after the government announced a former senior officer would be prosecuted for graft.

Serving and retired Chinese military officers as well as state media have questioned whether China’s armed forces are too corrupt to fight and win a war.

President Xi Jinping has made weeding out corruption in the armed forces a top goal and several senior officers have been felled, including two of China’s most senior former military officers, Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong.

The government said on Thursday that it would prosecute Guo for corruption. Xu died of cancer in March.

“If we allow the growth and spread of corruption, the guns will rust, the pillars will collapse,” the People’s Liberation Army Daily said in a front-page editorial. “History has repeatedly proven that if corruption is not eliminated, we will defeat ourselves even before a war.”

High-ranking officers such as Xu and Guo affected the morale of the people and had a severe impact on the soldiers’ beliefs and convictions, the paper said.

State media had previously focused on how corruption was a key reason for China’s defeat to Japan in the waning years of the Qing dynasty.

China stepped up a crackdown on corruption in the military in the late 1990s, banning the People’s Liberation Army from engaging in business.

However, analysts have said the military has been involved in commercial dealings in recent years due to a lack of checks and balances.

The buying and selling of senior jobs in the military, an open secret, has worried reformers who say it leads to those with talent being cast aside and damages morale.

Xi’s graft crackdown has coincided with increased efforts to modernize forces that are projecting power across the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas, although it has not fought a war in decades.

China military to investigate who owns its land

June 26, 2015

China doesn’t care much when Vietnam or the Philippines or Japan complains about China’s apparent illegal land seizures. But now China has so many unhappy Chinese citizens complaining that their land was stolen by the Communist nation that the government has promised to investigate…


China’s military has launched a three-year project to try to work out who owns the land it uses after finding that a quarter of it lacked ownership documents, which has led to disputes with civilians, the Defense Ministry said on Friday.

China’s armed forces, the world’s largest, have become a focus of President Xi Jinping’s campaign to root out deeply-ingrained graft including bribery, which often takes the form of lavish gifts to officials or extravagant spending of government funds.

The military has warned repeatedly that buildings on its bases must be simple, cheap and unostentatious.

“Just like a citizen must have an identity card and a household registration documents, military land also needs its own ‘proof of identity’,” the ministry quoted an unidentified officer in charge of base and barracks building as saying.

With a quarter of land the military uses lacking such documentation, this has led to ownership disputes, the ministry added.

“This not only involves the legal use of land resources, but it also affects the harmonious relationship between the military and the government and the military and the people,” it said.

These issues are “extremely sensitive”, the ministry added.

The anti-graft drive in the military comes as Xi steps up efforts to modernize forces that are projecting power across the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas, though China has not fought a war in decades.

China intensified its crackdown on corruption in the military in the late 1990s, banning the People’s Liberation Army from engaging in business. But the military has been involved in commercial dealings in recent years due to a lack of checks and balances, military analysts have said.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

China detains 10 people for spreading rumours damaging military’s image

May 2, 2015


China tells military to be on guard against “liberalism”

April 16, 2015

Chinese soldiers attending a winter training session in freezing temperatures in Heihe, north-east China’s Heilongjiang province, on Jan 28, 2015. China’s military ordered its forces on Thursday, April 16, to be on guard against “liberalism” and ensure their loyalty to the ruling Communist Party, the latest battle in President Xi Jinping’s war against corruption in the services. — PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) – China’s military ordered its forces on Thursday to be on guard against “liberalism” and ensure their loyalty to the ruling Communist Party, the latest battle in President Xi Jinping’s war against corruption in the services.

The People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest armed forces, “must put the orders of the party into action, must maintain and uphold the correct political beliefs, must guard against and rectify political liberalism”, the military said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

Financial rules must be followed and the promotion of officers must avoid any hint of corruption, as nobody was above the law, the statement added.

“Eliminate any thought or reality of there being special rights” for those who can get away with breaking the rules, and give the corrupt no place to hide, it said.

Xi has made weeding out corruption in the armed forces a top goal, and several senior officers have been felled, including one of China’s most senior former military officers, Xu Caihou. He died of cancer last month.

China Doubles Its Amphibious Infantry — Taiwan invasion? Amphibious assault on disputed islands?

January 9, 2015

China’s PLA amphibious assault troops training with Russia during a 2005 exercise


China’s military has doubled the size of its Amphibious Mechanized Infantry Division (AMID) from about 30,000 to 60,000 men for a potential conflict in the East and South China seas as well as with Taiwan, according to Taiwan-based news site Want China Times. The AMIDs are fit for a large-scale amphibious invasion, but China still lacks the conventional amphibious transportation required to cross the Taiwan Strait, according to a 2014 Pentagon report on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

“An attempt to invade Taiwan would strain China’s armed forces and invite international intervention,” the report stated. “The PLA is capable of accomplishing various amphibious operations short of a full-scale invasion of Taiwan. With few overt military preparations beyond routine training, China could launch an invasion of small Taiwan-held islands in the South China Sea such as Pratas or Itu Aba. A PLA invasion of a medium-sized, better defended offshore island such as Matsu or Jinmen is within China’s capabilities.”

East China Sea: These islands known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyus in China are in dispute between the two nations.

Although each of the now-four AMIDs are equipped with 300 armored and amphibious transport vehicles, these vehicles cannot cross large areas of water like the Taiwan Strait. China would have to use its amphibious assault ships, such as the new Type 071 transport ship, which can carry between 15 to 20 armored vehicles and 500 to 800 troops. But all of these ships combined could not carry and resupply a single AMID along with provisions across seas, according to the Diplomat.

However, reports in 2013 claimed that China is building its first amphibious assault ship capable of transporting multiple hovercraft and helicopters, according to Japan’s Kyodo News International. A 2008 Pentagon report said the Chinese military was increasing its mobility in the event of a conflict with Taiwan, according to the Want China Times.

Taiwan’s former marine corps colonel Yi-Jia Shiah told the Want China Times that doubling the AMIDs is not necessarily a greater threat to the island, because the PLA’s AMIDs and marine corps have yet to establish a joint command system. As a lone unit, the AMIDs have insufficient battle experience at sea and cannot rely on their current amphibious assault fleet. The marine corps, however, is focused on “sea-to-sea” warfare. Thus, cooperation between the two units will be closely watched, Shiah told the Want China Times on Sunday.

Three of China’s Yuzhao Class amphibious transport dock ships

Mainland China has eyed the island of Taiwan and other strategic isles in the region for decades.

The Republic of China (ROC), a nationalist government, lost the Chinese Civil War against the Communist Party in 1949. The ROC fled to the island of Taiwan while the Communist Party took control of mainland China, establishing the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The ROC currently governs Taiwan and surrounding isles as well as islands in the South China Sea. However, the PRC has for long claimed sovereignty over Taiwan as its twenty-third province and refuses to recognize the ROC as Taiwan’s governing body.

The PRC has threatened military force if peaceful unification is ultimately rejected or if official Taiwanese independence is declared, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Historian.


Want China Times

The People’s Liberation Army has doubled the size of its Amphibious Mechanized Infantry Division (AMID) to boost its combat capabilities in the event of a conflict with Taiwan or in the East or South China seas, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.

The PLA originally had two AMIDs — one in the Nanjing Military Region and another in the Guangzhou Military Region — comprising a total of 26,000-30,000 soldiers. Between 2007 and 2012, Nanjing’s 31st Army Group’s 86th Motorized Infantry Division and Guangzhou’s 41st Army Group’s 123rd Mechanized Infantry Division were both reformed into AMIDs, doubling the total personnel to 52,000-60,000.

The four AMIDs will reportedly strengthen China’s combat power as they can cooperate with the 20,000 troops from the PLA Marine Corps to conduct landing assault operations. Each AMID has three battle groups and can carry up to 300 amphibious transport vehicles.

Yuzhao Class amphibious transport dock ship

The PLA appears to be looking to diversify the capabilities of its amphibious ground forces as opposed to simply fortifying its Marine Corps as a means to strengthen its authority in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, where it is embroiled in a number of territorial disputes.

A Pentagon report on the Chinese military from 2008 noted that the PLA has been increasing the mobility of its troops in the event of a conflict with Taiwan. The idea of boosting amphibious battle capability was raised in the 2014 version of the report, which said that one of the PLA’s strategy options is to quickly take over Taiwan before other countries can intervene.

However, not everyone is convinced that the doubling of AMIDs will necessarily pose a bigger concern to Taiwan. Former Republic of China Marine Corps colonel, Yi-Jia Shiah, said AMIDs are fundamentally different to marines and that the threat is not as serious as publicized, though increased cooperation between the two units will have to be closely monitored.

The PLA’s AMIDs and Marine Corps have not yet established a joint command system, he said, adding that in a potential conflict with Taiwan, command of the AMID will still belong to its military region to as opposed to the PLA Navy, which controls the Marine Corps.

The AMIDs also have insufficient battle experience on the seas and cannot simply rely on their ZBD-05 amphibious assault vehicles to cut cross the Taiwan Strait, he said, adding that the PLA will still need its Navy’s Type 071 Yuzhao class amphibious transport dock and Type 081 landing helicopter dock or amphibious assault ships to carry out a proper landing assault.

The AMID’s development is based on “coast-to-coast” warfare such as crossing rivers, lakes and difficult terrain while still maintaining its combat power, he said, while the Marine Corps is focused on “sea-to-land” warfare, which is more concerned with how to project the military’s combat power across the seas.


Yi-Jia Shiah  夏宜嘉

The “well deck” of a Chinese amphibious assault ship, with amphibious landing craft in view



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