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Crossover: PLA is shifting the balance towards naval and air forces


03-11-2014 20:36 BJT

We now cross to our reporter Han Bin, who’s outside the Great Hall of the People.

Q1, Han Bin, your story mentioned that one of the reasons for increase in the defense budget is the PLA's deep reforms. Give us more details about that.

The blueprint of the PLA's reforms was drawn by the new leadership after a key strategy meeting at the end of last year. Big changes are in store. In the past, funding was allocated almost equally between the army, navy and air forces. The old military concept focused on land forces and coastal defense. But with a growing number of maritime disputes and China's overseas interests, the PLA is looking to shift the balance towards naval capabilities and the air force. More funding will go to the navy and high-tech sectors in surveillance, cyber activities, and space. Reforms will also mean restructuring of the military command structure. That hasn't started yet, but the direction is already clear: to build joint operation systems to improve efficiency and quality. All this requires a lot of money.

Q2, Han Bin, you just mentioned that the PLA is speeding up its reforms. What's the strategic thinking behind all the changes?

China has never been so close as it is now to the center stage of the world. The economy has given it confidence in playing a key role. In recent years, we see the army much more involved in joint international operations and multi-lateral military talks. We also see more transparency in its military build up. Its military strategy has gradually changed from the past "passive reaction", to the current "active engagement". The PLA wants to establish a new world image as a responsible player in the world. A bigger defense budget will help make that possible.


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