China to trim its army

OFFICIAL media outlet of People’s Liberation Army (PLA),China’s armed forces, announced that it would rebalance the two million-strong forces by downsizing its army while boosting its navy, missile force, and strategic support force. According to PLA Daily, mouthpiece of the military, number of PLA Army personnel will be reduced to below one million for the first time in its history.
Other countries of the world have been making hollow claims and promises about reduction in their troops and cutting their defence budgets but China has taken the lead in implementing the measure. The PLA’s size has been cut several times since 1980s — by one million in 1985, 500,000 in 1997, 200,000 in 2003, and, most recently, an announced cut of 300,000 in 2015. No doubt, the plan is meticulously being implemented and is aimed at rebalancing of resources with more focus on PLA Navy, Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force. This will allow China to better tackle emerging security challenges, including those in maritime and cyber domains. But reduction in the level of troops is also a message to outside world that China harbours no aggressive designs against any country. The latest reports of cuts come in the wake of tension with India but Chinese are putting across the message that they believe in cooperative diplomacy and relationship and don’t want to antagonise others especially neighbouring countries. The plan also has lessons to learn for countries like Pakistan where there have been consistent complaints that Air Force and Pakistan Navy are not getting necessary funds to modernise them and take care of challenges on sea-lanes and skies of the motherland. Chinese are also cutting non-combatant and non-essential personnel to reduce their overall spending on military and are focusing more on training and skill development. Being a poor nation we should also avoid luxuries and reduce manpower like provision of orderly, which is nothing but a remnant of imperialist era.

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