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China’s Central Military Commission has decided to speed up the research and development of new weapons and quicken the pace of modernizing the People’s Liberation Army, while warning its military force to “be vigilant in peacetime” while preparing for future war scenarios.

The Hong Kong-based Tai Yang Pao newspaper said the decision was made among the CMC’s leadership during its second meeting this year Feb. 2-3 in Beijing.

Specifically, the committee chose three main tasks for the armed forces in the coming months and years:

 

  • Speed up modernization programs currently under way while safeguarding national sovereign and “territorial integrity” — a statement clearly aimed at Taiwan, analysts said;
  • “Deepen” reforms within the PLA while focusing modernization efforts on “fighting a successful high-tech war;”
  • Step up arms modernization programs by quickening research, development and production of “the new generation of deterrent weapons.”

The paper quoted sources who said President Jiang Zemin, who is also chief of the CMC, noted that while the “current international situation” on whole is easing, “the factors for war still exist” — a condition that should determine the level of Chinese “national defense” construction. Zemin, the paper said, pointed out that the level of construction “must meet the needs of the [international] situation.”

Meanwhile, the CMC’s vice chairman, Zhang Wannian — in Russia this week to sign a new series of defense, military technology and mutual economic agreements — provided details of the mainland’s current combat readiness in regard to building PLA forces, developing new armaments and the research and development of high technology weapons.

The paper said Zhang emphasized that all modernization efforts “must suit the situation of fighting a successful modern war,” which includes “partial, short and high-tech destructive war; all-around medium and long term war[s] of attrition; and a war of annihilation fought with non-conventional weapons.”

He said China should cooperate with “friendly nations” and pool manpower and resources to concentrate on a number of projects based on “new breakthroughs, deterrent strength and world-leading status,” the paper said.

Also, Zhang said that laser and neutron weapons, among others, would be the deterrent weapons in a future conflict. The paper said he recommended that “armaments should be simultaneously researched and developed, tested in actual combat, enhanced and improved, [then] put into production and used to equip” the PLA.

The CMC said its armed forces — the PLA, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and the People’s Liberation Army Navy — should be “vigilant in peacetime,” but clearly “perceive that future wars may include … a war to oppose national separatism and rebellion, a war to opposed armed aggression and intervention in other countries by hegemonist military blocs or a military conflict (war) to oppose a sudden strike by hegemonist military blocs.”

In earlier reports, China has used the term “hegemonist” as a pejorative against expected U.S. and NATO intervention in case Beijing would launch an assault against Taiwan. The terms “national separatism and rebellion” refer directly to Taiwan’s democratic government.

Also, the paper quoted Chinese sources as saying that because of the new directives, an “upsurge” of “actual combat exercises” would likely be undertaken by PLA forces this year, and that a “number of new technology deterrent weapons will make their appearance in the northwest, southwest, and Yellow Sea theaters.”

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