Modern combat system basis of strong military
Addressing the 13th National People's Congress, China's top legislature, on the last day of its first session on March 20. President Xi Jinping, also chairman of the Central Military Commission, said a modern combat system with Chinese characteristics should be established to safeguard national security.
China needs a modern combat system to build world-class combat capability under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, by integrating advanced theories, efficient operation, a strong military, a powerful mechanism, comprehensive safeguards and great mobilization power. That such a system must be under the Party's leadership is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the cornerstone of the People's Liberation Army.
Advanced military theories in the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics should be innovative, keep up with the times, combine the practical experiences of the PLA by applying information and communications technology (ICT) and deepening military-civilian integration. The theories should help the military to improve future warfare based on ICT. Thus, a more unified mechanism will be established with highly coordinative forces and overall sustainable support to accelerate the pace of and add power to various approaches.
The ICT support should facilitate not only the intensive integration of the military and civilians, and efficient resource-sharing, but also the large national defense mobilization system.
A modern combat system has been proposed to adapt to the trend of a new global military revolution and meet the requirements of national security. In the global strategic game of the 21st century, countries spend a lot more to develop comprehensive strength, as modern warfare will be intricately linked with ICT.
A potential warfare China needs to prepare for is a just and defensive-in-nature modern regional war that is affected by politics, and would depend on information and joint operation of stronger forces. A modern combat system should thus be based on the land forces, whose advantages can help support actions in the waters off China.
China also has to promote comprehensive military modernization to safeguard national security and sovereignty through various necessary military actions and operations other than war. As such, establishing a modern combat system is an important process for China to build a world-class armed force.
Since Xi proposed the development of "modern military forces with Chinese characteristics" at the 18th National Congress of the CPC, China has launched national defense and armed forces reform, leading to a historic breakthrough in military power. The PLA has transformed from a large-scale, personnel-intensive force into a modern military with effective quality and intensive technology.
At the 19th National Congress of the CPC in October, Xi proposed the PLA be further developed by establishing "a modern combat system with Chinese characteristics", giving a detailed procedure to build a strong military for the new era.
The military should be the mainstay of China's national security to ensure social stability, ethnic harmony, and sovereignty and territorial integrity, ultimately leading to the transformation of the PLA into a world-class force by the mid-21st century. And since combat capacity is the sole criterion to evaluate a military, the development of a modern combat system will focus on strengthening the capability to succeed in a real battlefield. The PLA still needs time to become a modern armed force. It has to enlarge and even fill the gaps in the information countermeasures, strategic early warning and delivery systems.
Therefore, China needs to improve the structure and armament of the PLA, by using the power of innovation-driven modern combat system to promote the development of a world-class military force.
The authors are researchers at the National Defense University of the People's Liberation Army.