Leaders in China announced troop cuts during Beijing’s WWII parade. Although he did not discuss details, Chinese President Xi Jinping confirmed the People’s Liberation Army will be reduced by 300,000 troops over the next three years.
During the unexpected announcement, Jinping assured residents the troop cuts will not affect China’s military strength. In the opinion of some, the parade itself was planned to underline that specific point.
Los Angeles Times reporter Jonathan Kaiman describes the scene.
“China’s ruling Communist Party staged a massive military parade… sending a stream of goose-stepping troops, tanks, and ballistic missiles down a major east-west thoroughfare as fighter jets zoomed overhead trailing multicolored smoke.”
Although the parade was attended by leaders or representatives of 49 countries, others were conspicuously absent — including Japan and the United States.
As reported by ABC News, the People’s Liberation Army is currently 2.3 million troops strong. Even with the anticipated cuts, China will maintain “the world’s largest standing military.”
It is assumed that China’s troop cuts are being made to save money. However, prior to Thursday’s announcement, China was expected to increase military spending through 2020.
— Voice of America (@VOANews) September 3, 2015
As reported by CNBC IHS analysts predicted, China would increase their annual defense budget by 7 percent each year. The analysts suggested China’s defense budget would reach or exceed $260 billion “by the end of the decade.”
According to Reuters, China’s troop cuts are likely part of the country’s long-term plan to increase spending on high-tech weapons. National security expert Rory Medcalf explains.
“Infantry are no longer a measure of power… One metric to watch is overall military spending… Another metric to watch is the development of new and leading-edge technologies like cyber, hypersonic missiles and submarines.”
The timing of President Xi Jinping’s announcement about China’s troop cuts was unexpected. However, it was obviously not meant to signal weakness.
— Onlinemagazin (@OnlineMagazin) September 3, 2015
Although the People’s Liberation Army has not participated in a major conflict in more than 35 years, China’s increased aggression amid territorial claims is becoming a point of concern.
Despite the increasing unrest, Jinping said the PLA’s main objective is to “uphold the sacred task of ensuring world peace.” The president insists China’s troop cuts will not negatively impact his long-term goals.