MILITARY

PLA urged to reform, upgrade to fight hi-tech wars

Academic says military must prepare to fight hi-tech wars in future, and he confirms that a senior officer faces corruption investigation

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 August, 2013, 4:41am

The Chinese military should spare no effort to wipe out corruption and initiate creative reforms to build a modern army capable of dealing with multiple challenges, a professor at the mainland's leading defence university says.

Those challenges possibly include wars in the South and East China seas, he said.

In a rare online interview on the People's Daily website coinciding with the People's Liberation Army's 68th anniversary on Tuesday, Senior Colonel Gong Fangbin, a professor at the PLA National Defence University, said the armed forces faced new challenges amid the rapid evolution of technology. He said the Edward Snowden case reflected the growing importance of cyberwarfare to global military competition.

"If a war broke out in the South and East China seas, it would certainly not be the kind of battle [the PLA] has experienced in the past, but a hi-tech military operation," Gong said.

If a war broke out in the South and East China seas, it would certainly not be the kind of battle [the PLA] has experienced in the past, but a hi-tech military operation
Senior Colonel Gong Fangbin

It was also urgent for the army to carry out institutional reforms to bring it up to par with international standards, he said. Examples could be establishing fairer personnel policies that fostered and promoted talent; opening up the army's technological development to the private sector; and learning from developed countries how the army could enhance its fighting capabilities and prevent corruption.

In response to the call for the military to be brought under state control, Gong said the PLA should always remain under the leadership of the Communist Party, which established it as a "political tool" to achieve the political goal of seizing power and maintaining the regime.

However, Gong, 51, who served in three border conflicts after he joined the army in the 1980s, recognised today's PLA faced morale problems after 28 years of peace, as well as a lack of religious or other convictions.

In a first public confirmation from the military, Gong said that former deputy chief of the PLA's General Logistics Department Lieutenant General Gu Junshan had been involved in corruption and other crimes. Gu, who oversaw military infrastructure and housing before he was promoted to be deputy department chief, is under investigation for allegedly selling PLA land to developers. Gong said Gu had severely damaged the army's public image.

Caixin.com yesterday quoted mainland police sources as saying that Gu's younger brother, Gu Xianjun , and his brother-in-law Zhang Tao had been on the Public Security Bureau's most wanted list for corruption and bribery since April.

Shanghai-based military expert Ni Lexiong said the tone of Gong's comments indicated that corruption was rife within the PLA.

"The situation is dire enough to push a senior PLA official to speak publicly, which could be seen as a publicity measure to use public pressure to push the army to co-operate with Xi's anti- corruption campaign," Ni said, adding that Xi Jinping , chairman of the Central Military Commission, had already faced resistance to his military reforms.

Macau-based military commentator Antony Wong Dong said Gong also wanted to show support for the military reforms put forward by Xi.