As Chinese Military Reduces Its Troop Size To 20 Lakh, Let’s Know In Detail -The World's Largest Military Force


New Delhi:China, the world's largest military, has reduced the size of its 2.3-million People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to just two-million-strong force by decommissioning 3 lakh troops, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced on Monday.

The move came as part of China's goal of making the world’s largest army a mightier force capable of winning modern wars. Premier Li Keqiang made the announcement in his annual work report to the National People’s Congress (NPC).

China also aimed to restructure its command system and refocus its spending on modernising the military and therefore it has announced a defence budget of $175 billion for this year.

Li said the military had completed its goal of slashing three lakh troops, reducing the size of the 2.3 million PLA to just two-million-strong force. The PLA Daily, official newspaper of the Chinese military, has said that non-battle personnel were downsized. The troop cut was announced by President Xi Jinping in 2015.

The troops cut also came in the backdrop of massive anti-corruption drive carried out by Xi, who also heads the military, in which over 3,000 personnel including over 50 top Generals were removed and punished. “We will stick to Chinese path in strengthening our armed forces, advance all aspects of military training, war preparedness, and firmly and resolvedly safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests,” Li said.

He also said the military should function strictly under the command the ruling Communist Party and the Central Military Commission, (CMC) headed by Xi. Commenting on the troops cut, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times that “the military can allocate resources more efficiently and form a stronger battle capability. The key point will now be quality instead of quantity.”

“But that is an inevitable trend and the key to current military reform. The good ones will stay, and the unqualified ones will leave,” he said.

The PLA which was 4.5-million strong till 1980 was first resized to three million in 1985 and later to 2.3 million.

It also announced last year that it would reduce its grounds troops to less than a million as part of Chinese military modernisation under which the navy has been given a greater role to expand China’s global influence.

Few things to know about world's largest military force:

China's 0.18 per cent population is a part of their military force.

The Chinese military has grown rapidly in terms of both size and capability in the past few decades. In terms of raw manpower, with a strength of 2,285,000 personnel, China flaunts the world's largest military force. It also has the second largest tank fleet behind Russia and the second largest submarine fleet behind the US.

There are five branches under PLA- the Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, and the Strategic Support Force. People's Liberation Army was founded in 1927 and was called Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army.

During the Nachang uprising, in 1927, the Communist soldiers seized the southern Jiangxi provincial town from Nationalist Party armies.

The former CMC chairman Hu Jintao stated the missions of the PLA as: -

To consolidate the ruling status of the Communist Party

To ensure China's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and domestic security to continue national development

To safeguard China's national interests

To help maintain world peace

PLA is the armed wing of the Communist Part of China and aims at enforcing its rule. Many individual officers have asked to transform it into a national army, but no change was initiated.

The Chinese army has not fought a war since 1979. Its last war was with Vietnam in 1979 in which both sides claimed victory. After the 1962 war, the closest India-China got to a war was in 1986 when General K. Sundarjiheli-lifted a mountain brigade to face off against a PLA incursion which had built a road into Arunachal Pradesh. The Chinese troops remained there until 1993 then PM PV Narasimha Rao's visit to Beijing.

President Xi's military reforms have focused on rapidly modernising, commissioning new arsenals and enabling greater integration through a newly set-up joint operations command system.

Last year’s PLA parade is the biggest since 2015 despite a reduction of military personnel by 3,00,000.

China also boasts the second largest defence budget in the world. But, the US Department of Defence has often argued that China does not report its real military spending which according to them is higher than the official budget.




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