Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, has ordered the country's army of 2.3 million to intensify its "real combat" awareness to sustain military readiness.
Xi made the remarks during an inspection conducted from Saturday to Monday at the Guangzhou military theatre of operations, a term usually used to emphasise the coordination and joint operations by forces in the air, land and sea, according to a news release issued by military authorities yesterday.
Xi also chairs the CPC Central Military Commission, the top decision-making body for China's armed forces.
China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), with 2.3 million enlisted personnel, is the largest in the world.
Xi asked PLA officers and non-commissioned officers to adopt real combat criteria in military training and intensify such awareness among soldiers.
Xi also reaffirmed the PLA's core task of improving its abilities to win regional wars in the information age and conduct diversified military operations.
"Bear in mind that it is the soul of the military to obey the command of the Party without compromise, it is the top priority for the military to be able to fight and win battles, and it is fundamental that the military consolidates itself through governing the troops lawfully and austerely," Xi told officers above the division level of the garrison troops in Guangzhou.
Video footage from Central China Television showed Xi, wearing an army-green suit during his inspection, boarding a PLA Navy destroyer, the Haikou, and having dinner with sailors on the warship. He also examined an armoured vehicle and observed a military drill.
Xi urged PLA officers and soldiers to maintain their loyalty to the CPC by studying and implementing the spirit of the CPC's 18th National Congress.
"The PLA should unconditionally implement the principles to govern the military lawfully and austerely, train the troops through strict discipline, always focus on grassroots units and further improve fighting capabilities," Xi said.
He showed his firm belief that on the way to realising the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the heroic PLA must carry forward the cause, forge ahead into the future and effectively implement the historic mission.
Li Jie, a professor at the Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said Xi's order that the PLA strengthen "real combat" awareness comes at a time when the country faces complicated international situations, particularly tensions in its maritime territories.
"Currently there are many unstable factors in the nation's maritime domain, such as the Diaoyu Islands and the South China Sea. We need to ensure that the PLA is getting prepared for any challenges," he said.
Li said the PLA has not fought for more than two decades. "If you compare the intensity of training between the PLA and the US Army, the PLA lags far more behind and the latter also had many real battlegrounds to fight on over the years," he said.
Li said the emphasis of the rule of law in the army is also necessary.
"It's true that there's a lack of law awareness among some PLA soldiers and officers. We need to enforce law in the army to ensure the authority of the country, as well as the Party's discipline system," he said.
Xinhua News Agency contributed to this story.
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