Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that the 2.3-million strong People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest, will be cut by three lakh troops.
Xi made the announcement while speaking at the parade being held to commemorate 70th anniversary of the victory against Japan in the World War II.
This is part of the PLA’s efforts to streamline its force as it undergoes unprecedented modernisation with new weapons and technology. The PLA currently has an annual defence budget of $145 billion, the second highest after the US
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) which was 4.5 million strong till 1980 was first re-sized to 3 million in 1985 and later to 2.3 million.
The proposed cut of three lakh troops comes in the backdrop of a massive anti-corruption drive being conducted by Xi who, beside being the President, is also the chief of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and the head of the military.
About 40 high ranking military officials, including two former Vice Chairmen of the Central Military Commission (CMC), are facing anti-corruption probes.
After taking over in 2013, Xi placed greater emphasis on revamping the military, at a time when China is locked in a stand-off over maritime disputes in the South China Sea with several East Asian countries backed by the US, as well as in the East China Sea with Japan.
On the ground China is locked in a border dispute with India and Bhutan even though it settled border issues with 12 other countries.