PLA’s strength needs to be viewed fairly

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/1 22:48:39

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has come under the global spotlight as Tuesday marked its 90th anniversary. It's interesting to view the Chinese military from an international perspective.

Above all, the PLA is led by the Communist Party of China and serves the people. This characteristic, rooted in the PLA's history, is consistent with China's reality and unique to China. As the cornerstone of China's strength, the PLA has been playing an active role in shaping and implementing the national strategy, and it always pledges loyalty and abides by the discipline.

China's 2017 national defense budget ranks second in the world at $151.4 billion, which is one-fourth of the US' budget and three times India's. China is close to top-notch in heavy industries, space technology and the electronics industry, and leads the world in high-tech research and development. All these form the PLA's strength.

Compared with the US military, the PLA has a much narrower strategic line of defense. China's national defense forces are concentrated in the Chinese mainland and coastal areas. China is building its blue-water navy, but the PLA is discreet in extending its line of defense and won't carry out large-scale external military activities in the foreseeable future.

With a more focused line of defense, China can significantly build up its military strength in the core areas of strategic defense. As the PLA continues its tradition of concentrating its forces, it has an edge over the stronger US military in China's coastal waters and an overwhelming advantage over the Indian army limited by resources.  

The PLA is also characterized by all-around development. To build the PLA into a top-notch military force, China has made efforts to produce a variety of hardware, including satellite navigation systems, warships and warplanes. Hence, the Chinese military's comprehensive capability can be augmented every few years, faster than the others.

Since China hasn't been involved in a war in almost 30 years, Chinese soldiers and mid- and low-level military officers have no combat experience, and the cutting-edge equipment have not been tested in actual combat either. In recent decades, wars have broken out between big and small countries, but not between major powers. Therefore, other countries' militaries have not fought the PLA and do not enjoy a psychological advantage. 

The PLA's mission fits in China's national strategy. As China pursues peaceful development and does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, the PLA has never attacked other countries. But as China's national interests expand, the PLA will take on greater responsibilities. Other countries need to get used to the presence of Chinese forces outside China's coastal waters, whether they like it or not.

Underestimating the PLA's strength could lead to a major mistake. Claiming that the PLA is a threat is also misleading. The PLA has exercised restraint compared with its counterparts from other powers. It is hoped the other countries can learn more and befriend the PLA.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

blog comments powered by Disqus