The PLA is lobbying for a bigger say in foreign affairs - including policy on Taiwan. Speaking on the eve of the August 1 Army Day, Defence Minister Chi Haotian said a strong Army would enable Beijing to pursue its foreign and Taiwan policy more effectively. 'The People's Liberation Army has consistently been implementing the Chinese Government's independent foreign policy of peace,' said General Chi, who is also a Central Military Commission Vice-Chairman. He revealed that the PLA would boost its programme of 'military diplomacy' - the placement of high-level army delegations around the world. On Taiwan, General Chi said the PLA would deal a major blow to 'conspiratorial activities' within the island aimed at independence. 'On no account shall we commit ourselves to abandoning the use of force [against Taiwan],' the minister said. 'We have the will, capabilities and ways and means to defend state sovereignty and territorial integrity so as to accomplish the great cause of reunifying the motherland.' Military analysts said the PLA had been aggressively lobbying the leadership for bigger budgets to procure arms and to strengthen training. In his address, General Chi expressed confidence in building a 'crack force of well-trained, well-equipped and disciplined officers and men with up-to-date military theory, appropriate size, and scientific and effective organisations'. PLA commissars have also taken advantage of Army Day festivities to play up the importance of President Jiang Zemin . The Liberation Army Daily reported yesterday that a new book on Mr Jiang's five-point exhortation had been published. The book chronicles PLA achievements achieved using the President's slogan of spiritual guidance, first coined in late 1990. But military analysts pointed out that the fact PLA propagandists still had to remind officers and soldiers to study the six-year-old motto every day showed that Jiang Zemin Thought had hardly taken root in their hearts. Meanwhile, the two senior military commission vice-chairmen, Zhang Zhen, , 81, and Liu Huaqing , 79, have markedly cut down their public appearances. This is generally seen as a harbinger of the imminent retirement of the two Jiang foes.