Xi Jinping to lead new agency integrating China's military, civilian resources

China has set up a central commission to facilitate the sharing of technology and resources between the armed forces and the civilian sector. The new agency will be headed by President Xi Jinping.
China has set up a central commission to facilitate the sharing of technology and resources between the armed forces and the civilian sector. The new agency will be headed by President Xi Jinping.PHOTO: REUTERS

As part of ongoing military reforms, China has set up a central commission to facilitate the sharing of technology and resources between the armed forces and the civilian sector.

The new agency, to be headed by President Xi Jinping, will also facilitate the demilitarisation of some of the military's assets, according to regional security expert Li Mingjiang of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

The setting up of the body was announced in a statement yesterday.

It followed a meeting of a top decision-making body of the Chinese Communist Party, the  Political Bureau. 

The commission is "tasked with decision-making, deliberation and coordination of major issues regarding integrated military and civilian development", reported the official Xinhua news agency yesterday evening.

China in May last year announced sweeping military reforms in its 13th five-year military development plan for 2016 to 2020.

It was meant to realise "a significant increase of key combat capabilities", chiefly to allow the armed forces to achieve capability in informatised warfare, Xinhua reported at the time.

The reforms were meant to "lay a solid foundation for the People's Liberation Army to become a world-class military force", the agency had quoted the plan as saying.

China begun streamlining its military from January last year, including reorganising its seven military regions into five theatre commands that are meant to enhance the PLA's readiness and strengthen its deterrence and war-fighting capabilities, according to analysts.

Other reforms included setting up a new logistics support force in September.

"The reforms aim to place the services on a more even footing in the traditionally army-dominated PLA and to enable the military to more effectively harness space, cyberspace, and electronic warfare capabilities," wrote Dr Michael Chase and Mr Jeffrey Engstrom of the US think tank Rand Corporation recently.

These sweeping reforms to modernise the PLA come as the Asian region enters an uncertain period with the new US President Donald Trump appearing to take a more confrontational approach to the US' relationship with China.

Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2017, with the headline 'Xi to lead new agency integrating China's military, civilian resources'. Print Edition | Subscribe