China military: Xi Jinping stresses need for hi-tech training for troops

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  • Xi Jinping
    Xi Jinping
    General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and paramount leader of China

In his first order of the year to China’s two million-strong military, President Xi Jinping stressed the need for the People’s Liberation Army to adopt the latest technologies in its training so it can win future wars, state media reported on Tuesday.

Xi, who is also the chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), the top command body of the PLA, ordered that the military “must grasp the changing landscapes of national security and combat circumstances accurately and follow the evolution of technology, warfare and rivals closely”, as China’s armed forces started this year’s training and exercises.

In a brief two-paragraph order, Xi also directed the armed forces to double their efforts to “better combine training with combat operations” as well as strengthen systematic training and the use of technologies to develop “an elite force that is capable of fighting and winning wars”, according to state news agency Xinhua.

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This is the fourth time Xi has signed such an mobilisation order as the top commander of the PLA since the CMC issued a regulation governing military training in 2018 to improve the PLA’s readiness by focusing on actual combat requirements.

Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has carried out aggressive reforms of the military, including reorganisation of its command structures, army consolidation, and increased funding for the navy, air force and rocket division to strengthen China’s strategic outreach capability.

Xi Jinping orders China’s military to be ready for war ‘at any second’

Xi’s latest order did not elaborate on the changes facing China’s national security and combat circumstances, but last year the PLA stepped up exercises and fly-by operations targeting Taiwan, as its navy continued to counter US Navy patrols in the South China Sea, and tensions between Beijing and Washington continued to rise.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently called China’s testing of a hypersonic missile capable of evading American nuclear defences “very close to a Sputnik moment” for the United States.

Additionally, China and India continued to lock horns in a prolonged stand-off in the frozen Himalayas in 2021, after their worst border skirmish in decades in 2020, with more than 20 Indian deaths and an undisclosed number of Chinese casualties.

Military experts said the fact that Xi’s latest training order was substantially shorter than a similar one in 2021 indicated the PLA’s top command saw no need to divulge too many details on its training directions, especially regarding technologies and strategies.

President Xi inspects troops of the People’s Liberation Army during a military parade to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA on July 30, 2017. Photo: Xinhua via AP
President Xi inspects troops of the People’s Liberation Army during a military parade to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA on July 30, 2017. Photo: Xinhua via AP

Leung Kwok-leung, a military commentator in Hong Kong, said that the multiple hotspots surrounding China would require the PLA to develop a combination of military strategies and capabilities.

Leung, former chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Strategic Studies, said the PLA now faced multidimensional challenges from the “land, sea, sky, space, cyberspace and electromagnetic fields”.

He said Beijing was confronting a difficult geopolitical environment and “it needs a different combination of strategies, manpower and weapons in different directions.

“There is no way that it will disclose such information in details.”

Song Zhongping, a former PLA instructor and Hong Kong-based military affairs commentator, said Xi’s order underscored his ambition to build the PLA into an “modern and agile military force”.

“The key word this year is ‘change’. As the opponents are changing their strategies, and the military technology and warfare are also changing, the PLA must respond to these changes quickly as an agile force,” Song said.

He added that the PLA would continue to focus on building “joint operations capability” across its different units as “an important part of its training and mobilisation through the new year”.


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