China’s military has been developing rapidly in the past five years and is attracting global attention, which experts said is necessary to protect the country and its people.
“The structure of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) armament has been completed and rationalized in the past five years since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, meeting the requirements of a large country,” Li Jie, a naval military expert, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The PLA has modernized, and has completed its systematization and informatization, Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times on Sunday.
“The PLA’s armament has made huge strides, for land forces, the navy, air force and rocket force, as well as strategic support forces. Some have even considered the world’s best,” Song added.
China’s second aircraft carrier was transferred from the dry dock to water in Northeast China’s Liaoning Province on April 26. The new carrier, the first domestically-built one, came after the Liaoning, a refitted former Soviet Union-made carrier that was commissioned by the PLA Navy in 2012.
The PLA Navy’s new destroyer, Type 055, a 10,000-ton domestically designed and manufactured vessel, was launched at the Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) in East China’s Shanghai on June 28, and is equipped with new anti-air, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons, Xinhua reported. The ship marks a milestone in upgrading the nation’s Navy armament system and building a strong and modern navy.
Air force upgrades
The PLA Air Force has also been upgraded in the past five years with the “20” series aircraft. The J-20, a stealth fighter jet independently developed by China, was officially commissioned into military service on September 28. The aircraft is the country’s fourth-generation medium and long-range fighter jet, Xinhua reported.
The J-20 first appeared at the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, on November 1, 2016.
Aside from fighter jets, other aircraft like the Y-20 heavy transport aircraft, KJ-500 early warning aircraft and CH-5 surveillance/strike drone were also shown.
The Y-20, a versatile plane with a maximum takeoff weight of about 200 tons, is designed to carry cargo and personnel over long distances in hazardous terrain. It officially entered military service in July 2016, Xinhua said.
On September 2, 2016, then-PLA Air Force Commander Ma Xiaotian said that China is developing a new generation long-range strategic bomber. Chinese military enthusiasts and analysts call it the H-20, which they believe could match the US B-2 stealth bomber.
The Z-20 utility helicopter, which they consider a match for the UH-60 Blackhawk, is also undergoing tests in plateau regions in China, according to anonymous sources from the Aviation Industry Cooperation of China.
In the past five years, two military parades showcased advances made by the PLA, which have been reported and analyzed by Chinese and foreign media, 81.cn reported.
A military parade was held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in September 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, followed by another military parade on July 30 this year to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the PLA at a base in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The next stage of the PLA’s development should further strengthen “informatization” and systematization, and continue to develop attack weapons, Song said.
“In terms of armament, the PLA has entered a balanced and healthy period with great momentum to further develop,” Li said, noting that as China continues to gain greater global influence, the PLA should be prepared to protect China’s overseas interests.