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China Signals Stronger Military National Goal

AFP file photo
by Edward Lanfranco
Beijing (UPI) Mar 07, 2005
China's Premier Wen Jiabao has singled out defense and military development as areas of strategic importance for the country's modernization, national security and reunification.

Though Wen highlighted these areas in the waning minutes of his two-hour long "Report on the Work of the Government" delivered at the opening plenum of the National People's Congress on Saturday, they are clearly a high priority for the central government in 2005.

The premier, who is responsible for the daily operations of the central government, ended the section of his report entitled "Improving the Government's Administrative Capacity and Style of Work" with statements pointing toward greater military might to compliment the country's rise as an economic powerhouse.

"Fellow deputies, strengthening national defense and developing the army constitute a task of strategic importance to our modernization drive and an important guarantee for safeguarding national security and reunification," Wen said.

The People's Liberation Army refers to all of China's armed forces, including ground, sea, air, missile and paramilitary units under its control.

Wen stressed the ideological roots of the country's armed forces, saying, "Guided by Mao Zedong's military thinking, Deng Xiaoping's thinking on army building in the new period and Jiang Zemin's thinking on national defense and army building, we will improve army building in all its aspects."

It was the first and only time that Wen mentioned Mao, founding father of the communist regime. Mao's legacy is now limited to his role in the fight for the Communist Party's survival and ultimate triumph in the civil war, winning the mandate of heaven to establish the People's Republic of China in 1949. Maoist economics appear to have been relegated to the trash heap of Chinese history.

The premier said the central government "will enable our army to fulfill its historic mission for the new century and new period, focusing on the two historic objectives of ensuring that the army is capable of winning any war it fights and that it never degenerates."

He added, "We will always assign paramount importance to the ideological and political development of our army to ensure that the orientation of its development is correct."

In 2005 China plans to take "military strategy for the new period as our overall guide," and "actively promote the revolution in military affairs with Chinese characteristics." He also said the army would enhance its ability to use information technology in fighting integrated warfare.

Wen said the military would intensify scientific and technological training for its soldiers, in order "to turn out a new type of highly competent military personnel."

The country has plans to strengthen its defense research, modernize its weaponry and equipment, and develop its technology industries, the premier said.

Wen also promised to reduce the size of the army by 200,000 troops, a goal previously set out in the government's Tenth Five Year Plan (2001-2005).

He also stressed that army personnel would be expected to comply with national laws. The army has a history of questionable involvement in enterprises and commercial activities. State-run Xinhua news agency reported that Liu Guangzhi, president of the Air Force Command College, was one of five members of the NPC expelled by its Standing Committee for "severe economic crimes."

Wen said the People's Armed Police, a paramilitary unit estimated to be a million strong and comprised almost exclusively of demobilized soldiers, would be made more proficient and more capable of responding to emergencies.

China's propaganda machine is likely to be in high gear during 2005, Wen indicated, to generate public support for the nation's military objectives. "We will raise the people's awareness of the importance of national defense, improve the national defense mobilization system and strengthen the army reserves."

Premier Wen Jiabao's final remarks on the military indicated how high a priority the central government places on its defense capabilities as an aspect of its rise as a global power.

"Governments at all levels must vigorously support the development of national defense and army building and strengthen the solidarity between the army and the government and between the army and civilians," Wen said.

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Lifting China Arms Embargo Would Accelerate Asian Arms Race
Washington (AFP) Feb 23, 2005
The lifting of a European Union arms embargo would remove another barrier to an accelerating Chinese military buildup that is rapidly tilting the balance against Taiwan, raising the risk of conflict, US anlaysts said Wednesday.

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