Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Tuesday, September 02, 2003

China to Cut Troops by 200,000 Before 2005

China plans to cut the People's Liberation Army by a further 200,000 before 2005, said Jiang Zemin, Chairman of the Communist Party's Central Military Commission. China last month began trimming its 2.5 million-strong army by 500,000 over the next two years as part of efforts to make it more efficient.


Jiang Zemin at the National University of Defense Technology
China has decided to further cut its troops by 200,000 to 2.3 million by the year 2005, following the previous disarmament of 500,000 during the period of 1996 to 2000.

The decision, jointly made by the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee and the Central Military Commission (CMC), was announced Monday in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, by CMC Chairman Jiang Zemin at a celebration marking the50th anniversary of the founding of the National Defense Science and Technology University of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

"To shrink China's armed forces is not only in accordance with the world military reform trend but also out of the necessity of the national economic construction," said Jiang.

With the development of modern science and technology, especially information technology, global competition in military affairs has intensified, Jiang said, pointing out the current transformation from mechanized warfare to information warfare, with the information capabilities of the army playing an increasingly decisive role.

China to Cut Troops by 200,000
"Further reducing the scale of the army will help us concentrate our limited strategic resources to quicken the pace ofthe information technology construction of our army," said Jiang.

The decision carries great significance in that it will promoteChina's army construction, accelerate the modernization drive of the army, stimulate the national economic development and contribute to the peace and development of the whole world, said Jiang.

The total force of the PLA, including both active and reserve components, has been maintained below the 2.5 million-strong mark.

According to a white paper on China's national defense issued in December 2002, the Chinese government has always been strict inits control, management and supervision of defense spending, and has formed a complete system of relevant laws and regulations for that purpose.

Based on the continuous economic growth, China's defense expenditure has somewhat increased at a fairly low level, and the increase is basically of a compensatory nature.

According to a budget approved by China's legislature in March,the Chinese government earmarked 185.3 billion yuan for national defense in 2003, a 9.6 percent increase over the figure for the previous year.

However, defense expenditure, which accounts only for 1.69 percent of the country's budgetary expenditure, remains much lowerthan developed nations, neighbor countries, and the world average,which stands at three percent.

PLA's past strategy to trim down
The first instance came in June 1950, when the number of soldiers was to be reduced from 5.5 million to 4 million. Within the year, 239,000 soldiers had been deactivated. But in 1951, when the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea started, the number rebounded to 6.27 million - the largest in the army's history.

Second, in January 1952, Chairman Mao Zedong approved a disarmament plan which resulted in only 4.2 million soldiers by September 1953.

The third disarmament plan was made in December 1953 to decrease the number of soldiers to 3.5 million. The aim was reached by the end of 1954.

The fourth reduction, which was made in January 1957, left the number of soldiers standing at 2.5 million.

During the fifth round of cuts in the middle of 1975, the army decided to deactivate 600,000 soldiers within three years but the plan was aborted because of the "Cultural Revolution (1966-76)."

The sixth, seventh and eighth disarmament periods were undertaken in March of 1980, September of 1982 and late May of 1985, respectively. A total of 1 million soldiers were deactivated in 1985.

The ninth reduction came in 1997, when the army said it would deactivate 500,000 soldiers within three years. The aim was achieved by the end of 1999.

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