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Xi's naval visits show great attention

By ZHAO LEI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-04-23 06:59
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President Xi Jinping talks with officers aboard a submarine during an inspection of a submarine unit in Qingdao, Shandong province, in June 2018. LI GANG / XINHUA

President Xi Jinping's close attention to the People's Liberation Army Navy can be traced back to his first days as general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee in late 2012.

On Dec 8, 2012, less than a month after Xi was elected the Party's general secretary and the military's commander-in-chief, he boarded a guided-missile destroyer that took him to the South China Sea.

It was his first inspection of a PLA unit as the armed forces' top commander. In the next nine months, Xi paid two visits to separate PLA Navy units, boarding new naval vessels such as a new-generation nuclear-powered submarine and the aircraft carrier CNS Liaoning.

In May 2017, Xi visited the PLA Navy headquarters in Beijing. He said that the Navy should continue to speed up its transformation into a world-class force, ordering all Navy commanders to honor their mission of building a modern and strong force.

During the inspection, the president said that the Navy's development is strategically important and crucial to national interests and security. He asked the Navy to focus on strengthening its combat capabilities and carry out joint operation exercises in line with modern naval warfare. He called on the Navy to use systematic thinking in making development plans.

Innovation in science and technology must be used to inject momentum into the Navy's sustainable growth, he said.

In April 2018, Xi presided over his first sea parade, which took place in the South China Sea. Addressing more than 10,000 naval personnel from a giant combat ship, he ordered the Navy to seize every minute and second and spare no effort to become a world-class force, because the country needs a powerful navy as an essential pillar of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Xi told the Navy to continue to focus on combat training and stay on high alert to safeguard national interests and make more contributions to the peace and stability of the region and the world.

Two months later, during an inspection tour of the naval headquarters under the PLA Northern Theater Command in Qingdao, Shandong province, the president said that the Navy should use allout efforts to improve its combat readiness and focus on operational planning, training, hardware development and optimization of its command chain.

Navy units should carry out more large-scale exercises on combat capabilities and enhance targeted and realistic training, he said.

Moreover, Xi stressed that the Navy should take advantage of the country's military reform to implement its transformation and beef up the construction of elite combat units. He asked the Navy to give attention to building naval aviation forces.

During the inspection tour, the president visited a submarine unit and boarded a new-generation nuclear-powered submarine that participated in the sea parade in the South China Sea.

Talking with the submarine's crew, he said submarine forces must be given priority and make big strides in their development. He said that the sea-based nuclear force should achieve stronger growth.

During his most recent inspection tour of a Navy unit in October 2020, Xi visited the headquarters of the Marine Corps in Guangdong province.

The commander-in-chief urged the Marine Corps to turn itself into an elite force that must be integrated, capable, flexible and fast-responding.

He said that to achieve this goal, the Marine Corps should fully implement the Party's military thought and strategies for the new era, study and explore its own management and operational patterns, speed up its transformation and improve its combat capabilities.

National sovereignty

He said that the Marine Corps bears significant responsibilities in terms of safeguarding national sovereignty, territorial integrity, marine rights and overseas interests.

The president ordered that the Marine Corps must enhance strategic planning for its growth and ensure that it can better serve the country's development, security and military strategies. He added that the force should keep pace with the PLA's modernization endeavors, the interservice joint combat system and the Navy's transformation efforts.


Dec 2012 South China Sea

May 2017 Navy headquarters in Beijing

Apr 2018 South China Sea

Jun 2018 Qingdao, Shandong province

Oct 2020 Guangdong province

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