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The Chinese army is gaining strength under Xi Jinping

Xi has also embarked on a massive internal reorganization of PLA, streamlined the organization, and firmly controls it.

According to the experts, the slight decline probably avoided the domestic perception that the country's military expenditures far outstripped the general economic growth, which in 2019 is not expected to exceed 6.5%.

While the Chinese army may be one of the world's best-funded armed forces, its budget remains unchanged with the United States. In December, US President Donald Trump agreed to raise $ 750 billion in defense budget funding in 2019.
The US Navy still dominates the world's oceans, far beyond China's logistical capabilities and international reach.

But Beijing is quickly acquiring its American rival, with displacement of naval ships and technological advancement, according to Andrew Erickson, Strategic Professor at the Naval War College College, China.

"No one has led this level of Chinese military development in Chinese history before Xi Jinping," he said.

"Armed forces to be reckoned with"

Direct comparison between all aspects of the military budgets of the two countries is impossible, Erickson said, because the different governments are calculating the spending in different ways.

But according to the US expert, China's military budget was the second largest in the world.

"It is obvious that these armed forces are counting. In many areas, they have weapons systems that only a few other countries have," he said.

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"If you look at where the Chinese army was a few years ago, under Xi development is really huge. Very impressive."

Signs of efforts to modernize soldiers can be found everywhere. According to US government reports, between 2016 and 2017, 32 new ships were commissioned by PLA. By comparison, the US commissioned 13.
China has launched several submarines, warships, amphibious vessels and auxiliary equipment since 2014, as the number of vessels currently operating in the German, Indian, Spanish, Taiwanese and UK navies.

"The Chinese Navy will get warships so fast that Chinese sources resemble the soup soups of dumplings," said Erickson.

The Chinese Air Force also made regular new and improved aircraft and weapons, including the two-engine J-20 stealth fighter.

According to the US Department of Defense, the Beijing Air Force is currently the largest in Asia and the third largest air force in the world and closes the gap with the US "between different capabilities".
However, Xi has also started the military staff emphasizing quality and efficiency over staff. In 2017, Xi has simplified the massive central military committee that it is leading, reducing the number of members and consolidating its control.

In an attempt to professionalize the armed services, several former generals were disciplined or imprisoned for corruption.

Aircraft carriers and corvettes

While the military strength of the United States and China is often compared, the two governments apparently built up their armed forces to serve different purposes.

Washington says that its goal is to reach its army worldwide to protect its allies and American interests internationally.

Beijing claims its interests are closer to home.

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Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the National People's Congress, told reporters Monday afternoon: "China's limited defense spending to protect national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity does not threaten any other country.

"Whether or not a country poses a military threat to others is not determined by the increase in defense spending, but by the foreign and national defense policies it adopts."

The main scenarios that China is interested in military are the so-called "home games, not the game," said Erickson.

The Chinese government has built a navy and armed forces to protect and influence the country in the surrounding region, especially in the East and South China seas.

The evidence is in the military hardware that the two countries focused on.

While the United States has 12 aircraft with nuclear power plants, China hardly has a conventional conventional carrier and the other has wings. Type 001A, the country's first home air carrier, was launched in 2018, but has not yet joined the fleet.

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However, Beijing quickly produced Jiangdao-class corvettes, a small warship that is usually the closest to home fighting. A US Department of Defense report in 2018 said that this move was designed to take a "party" fight or fight near the Chinese shores.

This is supported by Chinese frigate production, another small warship, and the sharpening and expansion of the country's coast guard.

This is reasonable since the Chinese government is focusing on the management of the South China Sea, where militarized artificial islands are built and regularly drilled at sea.
However, this does not prevent the Chinese army from increasing its fleet to expand its global influence. PLA opened its first international base in July 2017 in Djibouti. A third aircraft carrier is under construction with advanced launch capabilities.

"They build strength capabilities that provide greater opportunities for planning the presence and power of the Pacific and Indian Ocean," said Malcolm Davis, senior analyst at the Australian Institute for Strategic Politics.


China has undoubtedly made rapid progress. However, some experts question their ability to fight as a consistent force or experience of their teams.

There are also doubts about the effectiveness of the new PLA technologies. The military analyst Carl Schuster, a former US Navy captain, questioned the alleged promotion of the Chinese army, including the development of a ship-killer ballistic missile.
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Such a rocket could theoretically be based outside the US naval strike forces, distributing Washington's largest assets and aircraft carriers.

But Schuster says a military army has never managed to develop an anti-ballistic missile, and China has not shown that it can actually hit a moving target in the ocean.

The Chinese army is also dissatisfied with the treatment of veterans. The decision made in 2015 to release 300,000 soldiers over three years to rationalize the armed forces has resulted in repeated mass protests in many cities after the government has not paid its full pension.

But Davis told the military outlook The United States is increasingly concerned about the increased maintenance costs and the aging fleet, which may give Beijing the opportunity to catch up.

"It is not clear that the traditional advantage of military technology in the United States remains unchanged," he said.

"Balancing the right to sustainability and modernization is a real challenge for the United States as forces are getting older and older, while Chinese steam moves ahead."

CNN Serenitie Wang and Brad Lendon contributed to the article.

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