The just-concluded key conclave of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) has finalised plans to build a fully modern military on par with the US by 2027, media reports here said. 2027, which marks the centennial of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China will build a fully modern military, a goal that is in alignment with the national strength and will fulfil the future national defence need, state-run Global Times quoted Chinese analysts as saying on Saturday.
The Plenary session of the ruling CPC headed by President Xi Jinping which held a four-day meeting adopted his proposals for the formulation of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035. While the 14th Five-Year plan envisages massive overhaul of the country’s domestic market to boost consumption in order to reduce China’s reliance on shrinking exports markets, the Vision 2035 visualises a long-term plan, reflecting the development vision of Xi including the military.
Politically, Xi’s Vision 2035 plan sparked speculation that he could continue in power for the next 15 years. Xi, 67, has emerged as the CPC’s most powerful leader after its founder Mao Zedong, holding the posts of CPC General Secretary, head of the military besides the presidency with prospects of a life-long tenure.
A constitutional amendment in 2018 has removed the two-five-year term limit for the President, which would enable Xi to continue in power for life. His second term as the president is due to end in 2022. According to the Communique of the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee released on Thursday, the country’s national defence capabilities and economic strength should be strengthened at the same time and reach the centennial goal of building a modern military by 2027.
The meeting headed by Xi has set a new goal to turn the PLA into a modern military force by 2027, by which time, China aims to build an army on par with that of the US, the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post reported. “With the centennial goal of building a modern military by 2027, China aims to develop the military with the capability to defend national sovereignty, safeguard against security threats posed by the hegemonism in western pacific region and protect overseas development interests as China’s overseas economic presence grows,” Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Global Times.
The centennial goal is in line with national strength, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the tabloid. Hong Kong military analyst Song Zhongping told the Post that the new centennial goal can be interpreted as putting the PLA as a leading modern force in the world, one that can be on par with the US army.
Sunfei Wu, deputy head of Hong Kong think tank Tianda Institute said this is the first time the Chinese leaders have included the military in such development goals. He said the goal was primarily targeted at Taiwan. “Basically, the target is to build PLA’s capability to match the US army by 2027, so It can effectively deter interference by the US Army around the Taiwan Strait,” he said.
Julian Gewirtz, a senior fellow for China studies at the Council for Foreign Relation, said the inclusion of these longer-term goals was significant, though it is hard to say it means Xi will definitely rule until then. “Its important to note that this Plenum isn’t just discussing the next five-year plan,” he continued. “It’s also building out the vision for 2035, spanning greater technological self-reliance and other goals for economic and social development.”
“Why 2035? The easy answer is that it’s the halfway point between the two centenary goals’ of 2021 and 2049. Whether or not Xi rules until 2035, this provides a medium-term frame for the actions under way, especially since the next several years will likely remain very challenging for China,” he said.