According to a Reuters news peace about the state of China’s military training, China’s official military newspaper in 2014 claimed that China’s weak military training poses a threat to the country’s ability to fight and win a war. Does this still hold true?
How strong is China’s army? In assessing the capability of an army, one might think that it is most obvious to take material factors into consideration, like numbers of tanks or soldiers.
Judging by statistical data on battle tank fire power, by Global Firepower, in 2017, China indeed ranks No. 2 ahead of the United States and the United Kingdom, topped only by Russia.
Brute force or quality?
When it comes to manpower, China ranks first overall before India and the U.S..
But, is that really all it takes to make a strong army?
History shows that material factors are not a very reliable prediction for the outcome of a war, or the capability of a military to use its firepower to its advantage.
According to a statement by the Los Angeles Times on China’s military strength: “ It’s much more about how militaries are trained and organized, and the quality of people they have.”
How good is China’s so-called People’s Liberation Army in terms of it’s training, organization, and the quality of its people?
An implication from inside the red curtain, made by Party leader Xi Jinping, adds weight to the assumption that China’s military is in need of a total overhaul. Xi Jinping pointed out that the biggest problem of the People’s Liberation Army is that it cannot fight, it cannot fight to win.
A number of retired Chinese officers and state media question whether the People’s Liberation Army is too corrupt to win a war.
China might not be the only nation with a large but somewhat ineffective military force. According to a Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper, China dares not engage in a war.
Based on an analysis, the newspaper named several reasons:
- There is no certainty that China could win. In case of a loss, the price and precedent for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would be too high.
- There is doubt about whether the Chinese army could actually hold up in a hard battle.
- Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xi mentioned publically several times that the Chinese military “must be able to fight and to fight to win.”
Critics remark that corruption is also eating away at the quality of the Chinese military.
In the 20 years that former Chairman Ziang Zemin was in charge, the military was given authority to be run like a business, which led to a deep establishment of corruption.
As a result, its internal structures became corrupt, and many officers and their favors could be bought or sold for a price. Over the decades, the corruption slowly chewed its way through China’s military body, like worms in an apple.
The buying and selling became so popular during the Ziang Zemin era that: “You had to pay to become a soldier. When you got promoted, you had to pay again. The buying and selling of posts was very popular. Even the rank of captain could be purchased for a few hundred thousand. Not to mention the rank of general, which started at 20 million. The army is totally rotten from top to bottom,” said political commentator Chen Pokong.
In war, an army is like a spear. All parts form a whole that follows the spearhead. But who do the single parts follow if the majority are corrupt? Can such an army really be trained to achieve a high enough standard to prevail in an actual combat scenario?
It is mostly values and military discipline to obey orders that drive a soldier to perform for his country and fellow landsmen. Who does a corrupt soldier fight for? What values will keep his standing firm and allow him to hold his ground?
Taking all of the above into consideration, is it really surprising that the current CCP leader and Chairman of the Central Military Commission would call for reform of the Chinese military?