With China's development interests growing alongside the country's peaceful development, it has more and more overseas interests, including strategic transport lanes and Chinese citizens overseas and investments, which could be vulnerable to terrorism, regional instabilities as well as hostile attacks and lockdowns.
By October 2020 China was considering amendments to its Law on National Defence amid profound changes in the world over the past two decades by adding key formulations, including threats to the country's development interests, as reasons for defense mobilization, and involvement in global security governance.
Domestic development interests include the likes of economical operation, and if these normal activities are contained or sabotaged by external forces by, for example, severe trade blockades, it should be viewed as a serious threat. Overseas development interests include China's overseas economic activities including investments and cooperation, such as China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. China will need to make countermeasures if these operations are intentionally blocked by regional warfare or lockdowns.
In another proposed addition to the law, the draft amendment said that China could use its armed forces to protect overseas Chinese citizens, organizations, units and facilities, thus safeguarding China's overseas interests, and participating in activities including UN peacekeeping missions, international rescues, maritime escorts, joint exercises and anti-terrorism operations following the basic rules of international relations based on the principles of the UN Charter.
If China's overseas interests are seriously threatened, China would be able to use its military capabilities to effectively safeguard its overseas citizens and organizations so the country's interests are not harmed.
Since the Gulf War in 1991, China has accelerated the mechanization of the army while absorbing the experience and lessons of the Gulf War. For more than 30 years, the mechanization of the Chinese army had been continuously improved, and the new equipment has continued to equip the army. The overall performance has reached the level of the US military in the same period. The main work is to expand the coverage of equipment, reorganize the organization system and improve joint combat capabilities.
In the 1990s, with the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, China's national security situation and environment changed significantly. The combat mission of the Chinese military also changed from "fighting against invasion by strong enemies" to "national unification under the background of strong enemy interference".
The “Three Steps Forward” military development refers to China’s three military goals for 2010, 2020, and 2050. In the first step, China preliminarily developed a force with more advanced weapons and operational systems. In the second step, China enhanced the quality and quantity of its weapon systems and optimize its military structure. In the third step, China aimed to achieve overall informationalization of its defense force.
The report of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China clearly stated: “Building a consolidated national defense and a strong army that is commensurate with China’s international status and commensurate with national security and development interests is a strategic task for China’s modernization drive.” It is necessary to adhere to the country’s core security needs as the orientation and make overall plans. Economic construction and national defense construction, in accordance with the "three-step" strategic concept of national defense and military modernization, step up to complete the dual historical tasks of mechanization and informatization construction, and strive to basically achieve mechanization by 2020, and major progress has been made in informatization construction. "
By year 2027, which marks the centennial of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China will build a fully modern military, a goal that is in alignment with the national strength and will fulfill the future national defense need, Chinese analysts said 21 October 2020, after the Communiqué of the fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) set the development goal of the PLA in following years. According to the Communiqué of the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee released Thursday, the country’s national defense capabilities and economic strength should be strengthened at the same time and reach the centennial goal of building a modern military by 2027.
According to the Communiqué, with the aim of building a modern military as the centennial goal by 2027, China’s military will accelerate its integrated development in “mechanization,” “informatization” and “ntelligentization,” comprehensively strengthen military training and preparation. By then, the strategic ability to defend national sovereignty, security, and development interests will be largely improved, the Communiqué says.
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