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Navy's reforms aim for strength, modernity

By ZHANG ZHIHAO | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-25 05:01

Navy's reforms aim for strength, modernity

President Xi Jinping, who also is chairman of the Central Military Commission, greets officers of the People's Liberation Army Navy on Wednesday during his visit to naval headquarters in Beijing. ZHA CHUNMING / XINHUA

President calls commanders patrolling at sea from headquarters

President Xi Jinping on Wednesday urged the Navy to accelerate reforms and strive to become a strong and modern force.

The People's Liberation Army Navy is a strategic combat force that has great importance in national security and overall development, he said during a visit to Navy headquarters in Beijing.

A strong and modern navy is a crucial symbol of a world class military, as well as the strategic support for a maritime power, said Xi, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission.

He has required the Navy to be more combat-oriented and insist on live drills and joint exercises. The Navy should improve its systematic combat capability on all fronts, from digitization to far-seas operations, and to be more innovative and train more high quality talent, he said.

Xi also has required the Navy to absolutely uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China and tighten its grip on corruption.

Since late 2012, Xi has shown that he cares deeply about the Navy, attending many related events, according to the Ministry of Defense. During Wednesday's visit, Xi met with representatives attending the Navy's 12th Party congress as well as many senior naval officers.

At the naval command center, Xi called to send his regards to officers onboard the PLA Navy Task Group 150 — a trio of Chinese warships that is conducting goodwill visits around the world and is now on a four-day visit to Bangladesh. The task group has visited five countries since departing Shanghai on April 23.

Xi also called the No 538 frigate, patrolling in the Yellow Sea, to learn of their routine combat readiness duties. "You have battled through winds and waves, fighting hard constantly. We thank you for your hard work," Xi told the commander. "We hope our comrades will continue to carry out their duties diligently, and live up to the expectation of the Party and the people."

In a decade, the Navy added 100 advanced ships and submarines and a large number of new aircraft. It commissioned about 40 new ships in the past two years, and is believed to have developed several new-generation nuclear submarines, according to the Navy. It now has a carrier battle group built around CNS Liaoning. A new aircraft carrier — Type 001A — was launched on April 26, too.

Major General Ma Gang, a professor at the PLA National Defense University, said the Navy has become a representative of the military due to extensive interactions and exchanges with other militaries.

"China's marine interests are growing fast, and it needs a strong Navy to safeguard those interests. A modernized navy also allows China to shoulder more responsibilities, such as peacekeeping and escort missions, and maintain regional and world peace."

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