Troop cut part of broader military reforms: Beijing

Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army marching in front of a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping during a training session in August. Mr Xi on Thursday announced the unexpected reduction of 300,000 troops, which is said to be part of broader re
Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army marching in front of a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping during a training session in August. Mr Xi on Thursday announced the unexpected reduction of 300,000 troops, which is said to be part of broader reforms to upgrade and further professionalise the military. The armed forces' official paper said the reforms will be "difficult".PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • China's military reforms will be difficult and risky as they require a fundamental change in thinking and could affect special interest groups, the armed forces' official paper has said, following the announcement of a cut of 300,000 troops.

President Xi Jinping announced the unexpected news of the reduction on Thursday, at a military parade marking the end of World War II.

The Defence Ministry said the cut, part of broader reforms to upgrade and further professionalise the military, will be completed by 2017.

The People's Liberation Army Daily said in a lengthy commentary yesterday that the success of deepening reforms will decide the future of China's ambitions to strengthen its forces.

"The difficulty is unprecedented," the newspaper said.

Old ways of thinking were "ingrained" and "it will be very hard to sweep them away from people's heads".

Reforms will also inevitably impinge upon certain interest groups, the newspaper said, without saying who those people might be.

"There will certainly be different understandings of what reform means, and this may even cause a certain degree of risk," the paper said. It did not elaborate.

The military has already been shaken by several high-level corruption scandals, as part of Mr Xi's sweeping campaign against deeply ingrained graft, as he seeks to make the military an effective fighting force.

The troop cut represents a little more than a tenth of the military's 2.3 million-strong forces.

It is the fourth time since the 1980s that China will be reducing its military numbers, as it speeds up an ambitious modernisation programme that has seen the development of stealth jets and anti-satellite missiles.

The focus of the cut will be on phasing out outdated equipment, simplifying administrative and non-combat roles, and "adjusting and improving military structure", the ministry said.

Further military reforms will happen in a "step-by-step" manner and are coming "at the appropriate time", it added.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2015, with the headline 'Troop cut part of broader military reforms: Beijing'. Print Edition | Subscribe