China vows to accelerate military modernization on CCP centenary

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Chinese military aircraft leave colorful smoke trails as they fly over Tiananmen Square during celebrations to mark the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party on Thursday in Beijing.

BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to accelerate the modernization of the Chinese military at a ceremony celebrating the Chinese Communist Party’s centenary.

It is thought that China wants its military strength to be on a par with the U.S. military with an eye on realizing unification of China and Taiwan, which is said to be Xi’s long-held goal.

At a ceremony in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Thursday, Xi, who is also CCP general secretary, said, “We must accelerate the modernization of national defense and the armed forces.” Xi had a look of satisfaction as he watched 15 J-20 stealth fighter jets fly over the square during the ceremony.

There was no military parade, which was also the case for the party’s 90th anniversary in 2011, but according to party sources, Xi pushed for the inclusion of China’s cutting-edge fighter jets at Thursday’s ceremony.

“A strong country must have a strong military, as only then can it guarantee the security of the nation,” Xi said in his speech.

Since assuming the military’s top post of chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission at the party congress in the fall of 2012, Xi has pushed forward with what is believed to be the largest-scale military reform since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Corruption was said to be rife in the Chinese military in the past. As Xi pushed ahead with reforms under the slogan of a “military that wins battles,” he exposed the corruption of top uniformed officials and replaced them with senior officers who are close to him or possess strong capabilities.

Of the about 30 generals in the highest-ranking posts in the Chinese military, all but two were appointed by Xi, according to a source close to the military.

The Chinese military belongs to the party and is the largest power base supporting the CCP’s one-party rule. Within the party, it is believed that whoever controls the military has the power. The source said that Xi had completely taken control of the military by 2018.

It seems Xi wants to turn the military into a force comparable to the U.S. military and hasten the preparation for the unification of China and Taiwan, which he positions as “a historic mission” of the CCP.

To prevent the U.S. military from intervening in the event of a Taiwan contingency, China is expected to strengthen the integrated operational capabilities of its land, sea, air and rocket forces, and improve its operational capabilities in the space and cyber domains.