Chinese Military Conducts Mobility Exercise

by Daniel Russ on August 13, 2009

People's Liberation Army

People's Liberation Army

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) marked its 82nd birthday on August 1, with the Hu Jintao leadership having taken several major initiatives to raise the quality of its senior personnel. President and commander-in-chief Hu has also given a big boost to military modernization by pledging unprecedented civilian support for the PLA’s ambitious goals “in the new century and under new historical circumstances”.

Yet, China’s defense establishment still suffers from enduring problems, ranging from an aging leadership to factionalism. Further, Hu’s re-hoisting of the Maoist standard of junmin jiehe, or “the synthesis of the army and the people”, could exacerbate the privileged “state-within-a-state” status of the armed forces – and

further stoke fears about the “China threat”.

The prediction that the year 2009 could become a watershed for the PLA is supported by growing evidence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership’s eagerness to show off the troops’ state-of-the-art weaponry. During the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PLA Navy back in April, authorities unveiled the first Chinese-made nuclear submarine to an audience that included military delegations from 30-odd countries.

More sophisticated hardware, including jetfighters and missiles, are set to dazzle the world at a gargantuan Tiananmen Square military parade scheduled for the People’s Republic 60th birthday on October 1. There is intense speculation in Chinese online military forums that Hu and his generals want to take advantage of the Barack Obama administration’s just-announced moratorium on the development of high-tech weapons to narrow the gap between the two nation’s combat capabilities.


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