BEIJING, April 16 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government on Tuesday declassified the designations of all 18 combined corps of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) as the latest step to increase transparency of its armed forces.
The designations of the combined corps were provided by China's new national defense white paper, published by the State Council's Information Office.
The combined corps, composed of divisions and brigades, are respectively under the seven Military Area Commands (MAC), according to the white paper, "The Diversified Employment of China's Armed Forces."
The 16th, 39th and 40th Combined Corps are under Shenyang MAC. The 27th, 38th and 65th Combined Corps belong to Beijing MAC.
The 21st and 47th Combined Corps are under Lanzhou MAC, and the 20th, 26th and 54th Combined Corps are under the Jinan MAC.
The 1st, 12th and 31st Combined Corps belong to Nanjing MAC. The 41st and 42nd Combined Corps are under Guangzhou MAC.
The 13th and 14th Combined Corps are deployed in Chengdu MAC.
"Although these designations have been reported in many documents and studies in and outside China, this is the first time for the Chinese government and military to officially confirm and publicize them," said Chen Zhou, a senior fellow with the PLA's Military Science Academy, and also one of the key drafters of the white paper.
The national defense white paper has long been an important platform for China to increase military transparency, Guan Youfei, chief of the foreign affairs office of China's Ministry of National Defense, said in an interview with Xinhua.
Every time China releases a new defense white paper, there are new contents regarding the country's defense policy and military construction, a fact that indicates the country's continuous efforts in promoting transparency in relevant fields, he said.
Guan cited the task set in the report to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China to build a strong national defense and powerful armed forces that are commensurate with the country's international standing and meet the needs of its security and development interests.x "A strong and powerful army ought to be open and self-confident," Guan said, adding that China will steadily enhance the openness of its armed forces.
Yang Yujun, a Defense Ministry spokesman, said at a press conference on Tuesday that while transparency of armed forces includes being open about the military's strategic purposes and capability, China is candid in both aspects.
China has established strategic consultation mechanisms with 23 countries' defense departments, and has explained the country's national defense policies, security concerns and the military's missions via various channels including senior officers' open speeches and interviews as well as the defense ministry spokesperson's comments and the ministry's website, Yang said.
In terms of military capability transparency, China has held a number of joint drills with other countries, and has invited foreign officers and reporters to observe its military exercises and military units. Relevant information can also be obtained through Chinese media reports, the spokesman said.
However, Yang stressed that since military information matters to a nation's security, there is no "absolute military transparency" in any country in the world.
Every country has a "restricted zone" concerning armed forces issues, and the decision of the scope, method, content and timing of a specific country's military information disclosure should be left to the country itself in accordance with its own security interests, he said.
"China has been keeping a high degree of transparency regarding its armed forces, and the practices are in line with the real situation of the country's military, social and economic development," according to Yang.