China has announced plans to cut the size of its 2.3 million strong military by reducing the number of non-combatant personnel in the People’s Liberation Army.

The number of non-combat personnel in the PLA, the world’s largest military, will be reduced in an effort to optimise its scale and structure, official media reported.

The Chinese military has enlisted singers, dancers as well as athletes in its non-combat units.

The new roadmap stated that China will adjust and improve the ratio of army officers to soldiers and the ratio of combat units to non-combat institutions in order to meet the country’s security demands.

The reforms announced at a key meeting of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) also stipulated that the military functioned directly under the party, not under the government like in others countries.

The reforms approved at last week’s Third Plenum is aimed to build a strong army that “obeys the Party’s command, is capable of winning battles and has a sound work style”, the report said.

Meng Xiangqing, a security strategist at the PLA University of National Defence, told state-run Global Times that the reform is in line with the general principle of the Chinese military, which stipulates that the army must be both “capable and efficient“.

“The urgency of carrying out military reform has much to do with the change of situation both in China and abroad. The Chinese military must carry out the reform as if the army is facing a battle, which is also in accord with the tendency of change in world military powers,” Meng said.

The reform plan also called for innovation in military theory, strengthening military leadership, improving military strategy in the new era, and building a modern military power system with Chinese characteristics.

The reforms will also be carried at the all powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), headed by President Xi Jingping. Leadership system of the army will be reformed and the functional and institutional settings of CMC will be optimised, official reports said.

The reforms also vowed to accelerate building of new combat units and military colleges. A scientific and standard army cadres system will be built, and non — military personnel system will be improved, the plan said.

The plan said that defence research and production, along procurement of weaponry will be reformed, with quality privately — owned enterprises allowed to join the tightly controlled defence industry.

(This article was published on November 16, 2013)
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