Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun has received word from high ranks of the Chinese military that huge changes are in store for the military. First, a joint operations command will be set up to improve orders from various departments. In addition, the current seven military regions will be reduced to five and 300,000 troops will be disarmed. What does the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intend to do with such a huge move?
Yomiuri reports that China plans to set up a joint operations command, including the army, navy, air force and the second artillery force. The CCP previously relied on the army as the main body.
The Chinese Ministry of Defense responded to the English version of China Daily by saying that establishing a “Joint Operations Command” is a basic requirement of the information age, and the military has begun to set up a pilot program for it. China Daily also quoted an official from the National Security Policy Committee who says the CCP will further enhance the high-tech capabilities of naval, air and the second artillery forces. The official said the navy will be the most important, and will include more aircraft carriers.
Wu Fan, editor-in-chief of China Affairs magazine, says Xi Jinping has set up the State Security Committee and is making changes to the military to further control the military. He says Xi’s goal is to deal with external international situations, internal princelings, local governments, and the Chinese people.
“A joint command model will lengthen the distance between local governments and the army. So Xi can strengthen control of the military by asking the military to obey the central command and keep the party safe instead of being a watchdog for the local governments. Thus, a political coup to overthrow Xi is less likely to happen,” said Wu Fan, political commentator.
Wu Fan analyses that a local government leader controlling a large military region can turn him into a powerful prince. That combined with corruption is what makes a Bo Xilai type of rebellion possible. Wu Fan also says that a combination of army, air, sea, undersea, space, and network army is needed for the development of a modern day defense. The army has long dominated the Chinese military, but a lack of combat capability forces the CCP to reorganize the military.
Wu Fan: “After this reform, all the generals with high tech knowledge will come forth to transform the Chinese military inside and out. It’s to adapt to the needs of modern international situations and to deal with challenges from the strategy to rebalance Asia-Pacific by Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, and the United States.”
The Yomiuri report quoted CCP officials who say that within five years, China’s Jinan, Nanjing and Guangzhou military regions will become three theaters (regions for active operations), with the jurisdiction over the Yellow Sea, and the East and South China Sea. Beijing, Shenyang, Lanzhou and Chengdu Military regions will be reorganized into two theaters. The report also says the CCP will likely begin a new round of disarmament, reducing the current 2.3 million troops to 2 million.
U.S.-based China expert Shi Shi says Xi Jinping’s condensing seven military regions into five weakens Xu Caihou’s Northeast Army and Guo Boxiong’s Northwest Army.
Shi Shi commented, “These two forces belong to Jiang’s faction. The Northeast Army has the resources of Shenyang Military Region. If the three coastal military regions stay unchanged and the remaining four military regions merge, the Shenyang Military Region will disappear, surely going to the Beijing region. The Lanzhou Military Region will probably disappear too, going to the Chengdu region, which is responsible for South Gate and India.”
Shi Shi believes the military is the CCP’s trump card, so they handle it very carefully. Before Xi Jinping has totally grasped military power, he will not touch the military. Therefore, it’s likely that a combined Chinese military will not take place within a couple of years.
In fact, signs of the weakening Northeast and Northwest Armies were seen during the CCP’s recent level adjustment of a dozen deputy military generals. Hong Kong’s Ming Pao Daily summed it up by saying that in recent years, large-scale personnel promotions have turned the Jinan Military Region into a new force, which has become a confrontation line with the long dominating Shengang, Northeast and Northwest Military Regions.
Read original NTD report.