9 September 2015
China mulls space force in most sweeping military reform yet
The Asahi Shinbun


DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missiles are paraded in Beijing by
the People's Liberation Army on Sept. 3. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

BEIJING--China may set up what it calls a "celestial military" to boost its capabilities in strategic space warfare, sources said Sept. 8.

The space troopers are included in plans to structurally reform the People's Liberation Army to rival the U.S. armed forces.

The sweeping PLA reboot will be the most significant since the founding of modern China in 1949 and the aim this time round is quality rather than quantity.

President Xi Jinping announced the reduction of the nation's military strength by 300,000 troops during the Sept. 3 ceremony dubbed the "70th Anniversary of the Victory of Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War." This cutback is part of the reformation plan.

The plan also includes the set up of a "joint operation command system" in the hopes of ridding the military of its rigid administrative structure.

The PLA is comprised of Beijing, Shenyang and five other military regions, which is mainly controlled by the ground force, along with the navy, air force and the strategic missile branch known as the Second Artillery Corps (SAC).

Xi plans to model the reformed PLA after the U.S. armed forces, which has all its branches of service under command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to sources.

Xi instructed the PLA to overcome the inefficient passage of orders from the central government down its chain of command, caused mainly by the significant degree of authority held by the various military regions and the individual branch of services.

The PLA plans to reorganize the seven military regions into four or five "combat regions," which will each contain a command post established jointly by the ground force, navy and air force.

Additionally, the PLA plans to combine the SAC with a newly established "Tianjun" (celestial military) to improve its potential for space warfare.

According to PLA sources, the reduction of 300,000 personnel mainly targets the Ground Force and noncombatants. The navy, air force and SAC are expected to be strengthened. The PLA is especially considering buttressing the navy to strengthen its military grip in the East and South China Seas.

(This article was written by Nanae Kurashige and Nozomu Hayashi in Beijing.)

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