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Hasten modernization, PLA urged

By Zhao Lei and Zhao Shengnan | China Daily | Updated: 2014-03-12 07:28

Xi also says military should focus on strengthening its combat capability

President Xi Jinping urged the military on Tuesday to improve its ability to safeguard China's national interests.

Xi, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, said the PLA must "race against time" to push forward its modernization efforts and deepen military reform.

He made the remarks during a meeting with PLA deputies to the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, which is convening its annual session in Beijing.

"We desire peace but will never give up our rights or compromise national interests under any circumstances," he said. "We must dare to take up the historic responsibility of building a strong military."

The president said the PLA should focus on strengthening combat capability and improving its work style.

Obstacles in the military's institutions, structures and policies that hinder the modernization drive must be removed, Xi said, and he asked the PLA to reshape its organizational structure.

He also told military leaders to research the characteristics of modern warfare and ensure the PLA's stability.

In addition, the military must coordinate its work with the economic and social development, and local governments must take the PLA's development into account when restructuring their economies, Xi said.

He also said that the market can play a bigger role in the military buildup.

Military experts said Xi's visit to the PLA delegation and his words have shown that national defense and the military buildup are high priorities of the top leadership, which reflects China's determination to protect its core interests.

Zhang Junshe, deputy head of the Naval Research Institute of the PLA, said the military's ability to "fight and win battles" has improved over the past year as the president has stressed the importance of combat capability several times.

"Building a strong military is the right path for the country to avoid repeating its sad history and being encroached upon again," he said.

Ma Gang, a professor at the PLA National Defense University, said China should have a military that can match its power status, "especially when its sovereignty and maritime interests are being challenged by some countries."

He added: "It is every military's duty to safeguard its homeland, and China is no exception. Instead of posing a threat to the world, the fact that China has a stronger military enables the country to shoulder more international responsibilities such as fighting against pirates and peacekeeping missions."

Xi's words on the role of the market indicate that more opportunities will be given to private enterprises in China that aspire to defense contracts, said Wang Ya'nan, a military observer in Beijing.

"A great number of private companies have been waiting for the top leadership to open more defense market to them," he said. "Now it is obvious that the government is determined to inject momentum into the defense industry and introduce fiercer competition in the market."

Wang added that the move will encourage the private sector to develop more advanced weapons.

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