Xi Jinping has made the modernization of China’s armed forces a priority for his administration. The New York Times:
China’s military budget has grown to be the second largest in the world, behind that of the United States, and the country has acquired sophisticated weapons systems. But Mr. Xi has told his commanders that is not enough.“There cannot be modernization of national defense and the military without modernization of the military’s forms of organization,” Mr. Xi told a committee of party leaders studying military reform at its first meeting in March, Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, reported. “There has to be thoroughgoing reform of leadership and command systems, force structure and policy institutions,” he was quoted as saying.
And the Chinese top brass are benchmarking their progress against very specific adversaries:
Japan and its alliance with the United States have become prime strategic interests for China, whose commanders have been referring to their country’s defeat at Japanese hands in 1895 and using that humiliation as a prod for change.
“Japan’s victory was a victory of its institutions,” Gen. Liu Yazhou of the Chinese Army’s National Defense University said in an interview with the Chinese news media last month. “The defeat of the Qing empire was a defeat of its institutions.”
That’s the big news this Memorial Day: China has a leader who understands the importance of military power, grasps that China’s backwards and corrupt military structure can’t serve as the foundation for true great power status, and has the power, the money and the will to do something about it.