III. Modernization of the People's Liberation Army
Over the 60 years and more since its founding, the PLA has made great achievements in its modernization. It has grown from a single service into a strong military force featuring a range of services and arms, and is now beginning to make progress towards informationization. In recent years, the PLA has enhanced its comprehensive development in accordance with the principle of integrating revolutionization, modernization and regularization, and continuously accelerated revolution in military affairs with Chinese characteristics.
History of the PLA's Modernization
Following the founding of the New China in 1949, the PLA set a general guideline and objective of building outstanding, modernized and revolutionary armed forces. It built the Navy, the Air Force and other technical arms, and developed mechanized weaponry and equipment, as well as nuclear weapons for the purpose of self-defense. It established regularized military rules, formed a system of institutional education, and strengthened ideological and political work. It carried out a series of reforms in military command, organization and structure, training, and regulations. The PLA began to develop from a primary to an advanced level in mastering modern military science and technologies.
Under the new historical conditions of reform and opening-up, the PLA embarked on a road of building a streamlined military with Chinese characteristics. As its guiding principle for military build-up underwent a strategic shift from preparations for imminent wars to peacetime construction, the PLA advanced its modernization step by step in a well-planned way under the precondition that such efforts should be both subordinate to and in the service of the country's overall development. The PLA underwent significant adjustment and reform in accordance with the principles of making itself streamlined, combined and efficient, downsized in scale, upgraded in quality, and boosted its capability of self-defense in modern conditions of warfare.
Adapting itself to new trends in world military development, the PLA, by following the general requirements of being qualified politically and competent militarily, and having a superior modus operandi, strict discipline, and reliable logistics support, strengthened its overall development, regarded revolution in military affairs with Chinese characteristics as the only way to modernize the military. By adopting a strategy of strengthening the military by means of science and technology, the PLA gradually shifted its focus from quantity and scale to quality and efficiency, from a manpower-intensive to a technology-intensive model. It laid down a three-step development strategy and adopted a step-change approach which takes mechanization as the foundation and informationization as the focus. It took preparations for military struggle as the driving force for its modernization, and enhanced its capability in defensive operations in conditions of informationization.
To meet the new and changing needs of national security, the PLA tries to accentuate modernization from a higher platform. It strengthens the building of a new type of combat capability to win local wars in conditions of informationization, strengthens the composite development of mechanization and informationization with the latter as the leading factor, focuses informationization on raising its fighting capabilities based on information systems, and enhances the capabilities in fire power, mobility, protection, support and informationization.