Before Doklam standoff, Xi Jinping did an overhaul of Chinese Army
Military standoffs between Indian and Chinese forces are not known to extend beyond a couple of weeks in the last several decades. But, Doklam standoff is still going on after a month. Does it have anything to do with the military reforms of Xi Jinping?
The troops of India and China are in eyeball encounter at Doklam in Bhutan. China has accused India of entering a third nation militarily violating the UN charter.
In its defence, India has cited friendship treaty with Bhutan and alleged that China was eyeing Doklam region to alter security scenario in the eastern sector of India-China border. At present, forces are gathering from both sides in the Sikkim sector of the border.
The Chinese assertiveness came as a surprise to many, but it might have been a part of well thought out and concerted strategy. Chinese President Xi Jinping had been working on military reforms since 2012, when he became the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC). He became the President of China in 2013.
Chinese military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) directly reports to and functions under the control of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Xi Jinping has been putting a lot of attention and efforts to make the PLA stronger and cleaner.
MILITARY REFORMS UNDER JINPING ::
Towards the end of 2014 – some five months after the Narendra Modi government was formed in New Delhi – Xi Jinping held a meeting with over 400 senior military officials in a two-day conference in Gutian – the former revolutionary base of the CPC.
On the basis of his consultations with senior military officer at the old revolutionary base, Jinping announce to reduce the number of troops in the PLA from 23 crore to 20 crore, to phase all the outdated military equipment and develop new weapon system.
Since then, the Chinese Army has made transformational changes to adjust with the changing technology particularly in the field of surveillance. Xi Jinping has emphases on improving reaction time of the PLA. The focus has been to make Chinese forces to transform themselves to fight a modern war using modern technology.
China invested about USD 13.5 billion in the US-based starts up working on artificial intelligence for military robots.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) – which tracks military expenditure by individual countries across the globe, China spent USD 215 billion in 2015 on its PLA.
China is the second largest spender on military behind the US. India is the fifth largest spender with less than USD 60 billion.
PLA GETS A LOOK
A series of military reforms were undertaken by Chinese Army in 2015 and 2016. The Central Military Commission (CMC) of China effected fundamental changes to the organisational structure of the PLA.
Earlier, the PLA was divided into four general departments, known as the General Staff, the General Political, the General Logistics and the General Armament. This structure that worked for decades was suddenly considered outdated as the new leadership defined the challenges before the Chinese Army as different from its immediate past.
Now, the PLA was divided into 15 new organs. All organs directly placed under the Central Military Commission controlled by the CPC. These military organs were arranged into six new departments. These departments are called joint staff, political work, logistical support, equipment development, training and national defence mobilisation.
Another wave of structural reforms in Chinese Army was seen in February last year. Earlier, the PLA had seven operational commands called the Military Regions (MRs). Each Military Region was named after its headquarters, which were located at Beijing, Guangzhou, Jinan, Shenyang, Lanzhou, Chengdu and Nanjing.
In place of the seven regional commands, five new ‘theatre commands’ were created. These theatre commands are called Northern theatre command, Eastern theatre command, Southern theatre command, Western theatre command and Central theatre command.
The Southern theatre command is engaged in Doklam with Indian Army. One of the objectives of the military reforms by Xi Jinping is to bring the PLA more in alignment with the Chinese leadership. This explains why unlike previous stand-off with Indian Army, the PLA has not backed off even after a month of engagement.