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Strengthening security of strategic importance

By He Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-04 07:43

Editor's Note: Three People's Liberation Army officers delivered speeches on Friday and Saturday at the 17th International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Excerpts follow:

To ensure long-term stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region, China has put forward a number of proposals in recent years that have been highly valued by the international community.

Now, I'd like to share with you my views on three other issues of interests.

First, on China's reform of national defense and the armed forces. Since 2015, China has embarked on military reform, which goes roughly through three stages.

The first stage is the reform of the military leadership and command system. The general principle established is that "the Central Military Commission exercises overall leadership, theater commands are responsible for military operations, and military services focus on developing capabilities".

"Four General Headquarters" of the CMC were reorganized into 15 functional organs. We perfected the services' leadership and management system by establishing an Army Leading Organ, the Rocket Force and the Strategic Support Force. We built and perfected the joint operations command system, and resized the seven Military Area Commands and established five Theater Commands: eastern, southern, western, northern and central.

The second stage is to adjust and optimize the size and structure as well as the composition of the forces. We cut the number of active personnel by 300,000, reducing the armed forces from 2.3 million to 2 million. We optimized the proportion of each service and reorganized 18 combined corps into 13. The proportion of the army in the whole armed forces is now less than 50 percent. We streamlined the number of officers and strictly limited the number of administrative organs and personnel. The ratio of officers and soldiers has been significantly optimized.

The third stage is policy and system reform. We will deepen reforms in major policies and systems, such as the officers' professionalization system and civilian personnel system, and promote the transformation of military management. We will run the armed forces strictly according to law, fundamentally transform the way of governing troops, and raise the level of the rule of law in building national defense and the armed force. We will deepen reform of science, technology and industry sectors for national defense, strive for in-depth civil-military integration, and build integrated national strategic system and strategic capabilities.

Through the three stages of reform, the Chinese military will realize system restructuring by 2020. By then, it will not only greatly improve its ability of safeguarding national security, but also shoulder more international responsibilities and obligations, and provide more public security goods.

Second, on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, over the years, China's position has been very clear and consistent. China remains committed to the goal of denuclearizing the peninsula, upholding peace and stability on the peninsula, and resolving the peninsula issue through dialogue and negotiation.

Since the beginning of this year we are pleased to see that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is moving in the right direction of dialogue and political solution. A rare historical opportunity to realize a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and establish a peace mechanism has emerged. It has been proved that saber-rattling and confrontation can only make the issue more complicated. Dialogue and consultation are the fundamental solutions.

We hope the expected summit between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States will take place smoothly and produce positive results, and all parties concerned will value the progress achieved recently, make remarks that are good intentioned and helpful to ease tensions, take more actions that are conducive to furthering dialogue and mutual trust, remain committed to addressing each other's concerns through dialogue and consultation, promote the political resolution process and make more contributions to establish long-lasting peace and security on the peninsula.

Finally, on the South China Sea issue. Recently, the US, in disregard of the facts, hyped up so-called militarization in the South China Sea, and used it as an excuse to renege on the invitation to China to the "RIMPAC-2018" joint military exercise. We consider such moves as neither constructive nor inclusive. China's participation in the RIMPAC military exercises is not only of great military significance, but also of more political significance. It is a symbol of China-US military mutual trust and cooperation. China and the US should respect each other, meet each other half way, and advance toward the grand goal of China-US cooperation.

Nansha Islands are an undisputable territory of China. It is the natural right of China to carry out constructions on its own territory and to deploy necessary defense facilities. It is also a necessary measure to defend China's national sovereignty security, and maintain regional peace and stability.

The current situation in the South China Sea has calmed down visibly as a result of the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries. The US, in the name of "freedom of navigation", sent military vessels and aircraft to the waters off and airspace above the Chinese islands and reefs, challenging China's sovereignty and security. This is real militarization. This is also in contradiction to its consistent claims that on the South China Sea issue, the US does not hold a position and does not choose sides as to the sovereignty of the features in the South China Sea.

As a major power in the Asia-Pacific, China knows that its peaceful development is closely related to the future of the Asia-Pacific. China has always made it its mission to promote prosperity and stability in the region. It pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, and a military strategy of active defense. The Chinese armed forces are advocators and facilitators of, and participants in international security cooperation, and are committed to developing non-aligned, non-confrontational military cooperative relations that are not targeted at any third parties. China's armed forces, as such, have infused strong positive energy into world peace.

The author is a lieutenant general and deputy president of the Academy of Military Sciences.

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