PLA allows civilian firms to supply kit
Companies will be able to bid to provide training equipment to military units
The PLA, the world's largest standing army, has relaxed its rules to allow civilian companies to supply some of its training equipment for the first time.
The PLA Daily said 108 types of military kit used in drills and exercises could now be made by civilian firms.
The aim is to increase innovation and improve the quality of equipment provided through competition.
The vast majority of PLA equipment is produced by its own manufacturers.
"The public procurement of 108 defence-purpose products is unprecedented in the history of the development of the PLA," an officer from the military's General Staff Headquarters told the PLA Daily.
The move will raise the "effectiveness of military expenditure, optimising military resource allocation and boosting national defence modernisation".
The PLA's General Staff Headquarters released details of the procurement plan at a military training equipment exhibition.
Some 117 companies, including private firms, have submitted proposals for 106 procurement contracts.
Xu Guangyu , a retired PLA major general, said the move would allow the military to tap into the huge amount of design talent in the civilian sector.
It would also reduce costs, promote competition, encourage innovation and was in line with a government plan to have greater input from the civilian sector in the military, he said.
The PLA would also have to ensure that any civilian contracts did not pose a threat to security, Xu said.
"To avoid leaks of military secrets and potential disputes over intellectual property rights, companies will have to sign a series of confidential agreements, contracts, or memorandums," Xu said.
Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong said the PLA was copying the US and other Western countries by letting private companies take a greater role in supplying the country's military.
The government said in March that it would spend 808 billion yuan (HK$1 trillion) on the PLA this year. That is an increase of 12.2 per cent on the previous year.
President Xi Jinping spoke in August about the need for the military to become more innovative to bridge the gap with other countries' forces.