The PLA has expressed confidence in its ability to win a hi-tech war.
A meeting of the policy-setting Central Military Commission endorsed President Jiang Zemin's instruction that the PLA must have firepower and expertise befitting a 'great power'.
At the meeting which ended this week, the commission also took steps to rejuvenate senior officers at central and regional levels.
A military source in Beijing said yesterday Mr Jiang stressed two points in his address to the meeting: the PLA must be able to win a war under hi-tech conditions and its officers must be able to withstand the temptations of a market economy.
Senior staff, including Commission Vice-Chairman General Zhang Wannian and Chief of Staff General Fu Quanyou, cited the importance of upgrading hardware 'in the post-Kosovo era'.
This was a reference to the PLA's need to catch up with American technology, particularly in the fields of missiles, aeronautics and information warfare.
The development of major weapons systems in the air force, navy and missiles corps in the coming five years was discussed.
Commission members went over preparations for the possible use of military tactics against Taiwan.
Yesterday's Liberation Army Daily quoted General Fu as telling a meeting of the General Staff Department that PLA officers must remain in unison with the party leadership with Mr Jiang as its core.
Apart from the modernisation of weaponry, General Fu underscored the importance of education in 'Marxist materialism, atheism, and revolutionary ideals'.
Analysts said this was a reference to preventing soldiers from succumbing to corruption or to the beliefs of sects such as the banned Falun Gong.
The commission meeting vetted the promotion prospects of a number of central and regional officers.
Lieutenant-General Wu Shuangzhan, a vice-commander of the People's Armed Police, is tipped to be made commander. He will replace General Yang Guoping, who has reached the retirement age of 65.
Personnel reshuffles have also been planned for the military regions of Chengdu, Jinan and Guangzhou.
Central Military Commission