China downsizes military force by 300,000 troops to modernise its defence

People's Liberation Army (Photo:

China's powerful military on Thursday said it has completed the target of laying off 300,000 troops and hinted at more reforms to optimise the quality and combat efficiency of the now two-million-strong force.

"Our target of downsizing the military by three hundred thousand is basically achieved," Chinese Defence spokesman Col Ren Guoqiang told a media briefing here, terming it as an "important political decision and political declaration" made by the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and the country.

The plan to downsize the world's largest army by 300,000 was announced by President Xi Jinping at a parade in 2015.

The PLA which was 4.5-million strong till 1980 was first resized to three million in 1985 and later to 2.3 million.

China also hiked its defence budget this year to a whopping $175 billion, three times higher than that of India.

The PLA also announced last year that it would reduce its ground troops to less than a million as part of Chinese military modernisation plan under which the navy has been given greater role to expand China's global influence.

The troops cut also came in the backdrop of a massive anti-corruption drive carried out by Xi, who also heads the military in which over 3,000 personnel including over 50 top Generals were removed and punished.

Xi also carried out a massive restructuring plan integrating several commands and creating a Rocket Force and the Strategic Support Force for the missile launches.

Ren also hinted that reforms of the military will continue.

"However, the comprehensive reform plan is still ongoing," he said, adding that the related information will be released in due course.

The present military reform plan has made "very considerate arrangements to downsize the military", he said.

"At the same time, we are working arduously to build on lean military force," he said.

"We are working to reduce the quantity to improve the quality to optimise our force structure to streamline our headquarters and non-combat staff to phase outdated equipment and to facilitate the transformation of the PLA (People's Liberation of Army) from a military focussed on quantity and scale to the one focussing on quality and efficiency," he said.

From manpower intensive to high-tech intensive was the essence of the modernisation of the defence and the military, he said.

"I also want to emphasise that China has always adhered to path of peace development, defensive policy and it has always been and will always be a force to maintain peace in the world and region," he added.

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