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Cutbacks make China's army responsive
Updated: 2006-01-09 14:09

China's military has cut back its troops by 200,000, the official newspaper of the People's Liberation Army said on Monday.

The Liberation Army Daily said the two-year program to slim China's military was finished on schedule at the end of 2005, and troop numbers were down to 2.3 million.

A tank of the Chinese People's Liberation Army joins an exercise in this file photo. [PLA Daily]
China had 2.5 million serving military in 2003 when the cuts started. In 1987, it had about 4.2 million.

The reforms included reducing layers in the command hierarchy, cutting non-battle units such as schools and farms, and rearranging officer duties.

"The personnel system reforms have brought heartening changes to our military development. They've compressed troop numbers and optimized the personnel structure," the paper said.

"Our military is marching toward the goal of an appropriately sized, structurally balanced, lean, command-responsive fighting force."

After the cutbacks, the proportion of military serving in the infantry had fallen to a "historic low," while the share in the navy, air force and Second Artillery Corps -- which maintains China's nuclear missiles -- had risen, the paper said.

The paper also said that "high-tech" forces had increased. China has accelerated developing or buying several advanced weapons, including surveillance satellites, missiles, and "blue water" naval vessels and submarines.

"(The Central Military Commission) Chairman Hu Jintao's instructions set a clear direction for completing adjustment and reform of the military personnel system," it said.

Last week, Hu visited the Liberation Army Daily and told its staff to "adhere to a correct political orientation."

China's military budget in 2005 was about $30 billion, a 12.6 percent rise on the previous years.

The Liberation Army Daily said more reforms to China's military were planned for 2006, including further reducing officer numbers.

In order to concentrate on economic development and improve the quality of the Chinese military forces, China decided to cut the size of its military forces by 1 million in 1985. By the end of 1987, the cut was completed, bringing the size of the Chinese military forces down to 3.238 million.

And by the year 1990, the size of the miliary forces was further trimmed down to 3.199 million.

In 1997, China announced it would cut another 500,000 troops in three years, and the number of the Chinese military was down to 2.5 million after that cut.

And in 2003, another cut of 200,000 would be made in two years, and the size was lowered to 2.3 million at the end of 2005.

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