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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

People's Daily Online

Reform to downsize PLA Army, boost navy numbers

People's Daily Online

(Global Times) 10:20, July 12, 2017

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) will downsize its army to under one million, and evenly proportion the PLA army and other services, the PLA's official media said.

Jun Zhengping Studio, a WeChat account run by the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese military, published an article on structural reform in the military on Tuesday, saying that "the old military structure, where the army accounts for the vast majority, will be replaced after the reform."

"This is the first time that active PLA Army personnel would be reduced to below one million," wrote the article.

It added that the number of troops in the PLA Navy, PLA Strategic Support Force and the PLA Rocket Force will be increased, while the PLA Air Force's active service personnel will remain the same.

Ministry of Defense data shows the PLA Army has about 850,000 combat troops in 2013. No official numbers of the total population of PLA Army were released. The total PLA personnel was about 2.3 million before the country announced a cut of 300,000 troops in 2015.

"This reform will provide other services, including the PLA Rocket Force, Air Force, Navy and Strategic Support Force (mainly responsible for electronic warfare and communication), with more resources and inputs, and the PLA will strengthen its capability to conduct overseas missions," Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times.

"The reform is based on China's strategic goals and security requirements. In the past, the PLA focused on ground battle and homeland defense, which will undergo fundamental changes," said the WeChat article.

"The PLA must be capable of spotting overseas threats and destroying hostile forces thousands of kilometers away before they enter our 12 nautical mile territorial waters. China's overseas interests are spread around the world and need to be protected. These are beyond the army's current capabilities," said Xu.

The PLA structure should also fit China's international status, Xu said. "Apart from defending the national interest, the PLA also should be capable of protecting international public security interests, such as counter-terrorism, peacekeeping and disaster relief," said Xu.

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