Chinese Dream includes strong PLA
Updated: 2013-10-08 07:17
By Meng Xiangqing (China Daily)
The centerpiece of the Chinese Dream is the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and a nation cannot be rejuvenated without a strong military. A backward defense force makes a country vulnerable. This is a lesson that China has learned the hard way over centuries of humiliation at the hands of imperialist powers.
That is why the Chinese people have been focusing on developing the economy and, in the process, endeavoring to build a strong military. The process started after the founding of New China, but it was slow in the four to five decades that followed.
Now, the country has established an independent and integral national defense industry, and completed the structural transformation of the People's Liberation Army - from an army-centric force to one that is also good at joint operations with the special services that include the PLA Navy and the Air Force.
The outbreak of the Gulf War in the early 1990s, which used information technology to great effect, triggered groundbreaking changes in military warfare. Traditional Western powers used to have a distinct advantage over countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America when it came to military machinery. Today, Western military technology includes the expanded use of smart information technology.
Given the revolutionary changes in the military field, China has no choice but to transform the PLA from a labor-intensive force into a technology-intensive fighting machine, from being an armed force of quantity to a defense unit of quality, for which it has to depend on scientific and technological advancement. Without technological progress, the PLA cannot be a competent force always prepared for combat.
In the 21st century, the comparatively stable strategic environment at home and abroad has ushered in a period of strategic opportunity for China. The Chinese nation has never been so close to realizing national rejuvenation, and never before have the Chinese people been so confident in building a strong nation and a strong military.
But it is equally important to beware of the disadvantages inherent in the opportunity. China faces traditional and non-traditional security problems that threaten its development, and national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The persistent pressure from the Western world, complex territorial disputes, and terrorism and separatism threaten to undermine the country's economic and social development.
As President Xi Jinping has said, an important task for the country under new circumstances is to build a strong military that is "absolutely loyal" to the Communist Party of China, will abide by discipline and be ready to ensure victory in any war.
A solid military is a prerequisite for building a well-off society in an all-round way in China and rejuvenating the Chinese nation. As emphasized at the 18th National Congress of the CPC, China has to develop a strong national defense force that would be in line with the country's global standing and meet the needs of national security and economic development.
But the Chinese Dream, especially the dream to build a strong military, is often seen by the West as part of China's attempt to establish military hegemony. The truth is, China has always been a peace-loving country and it firmly pursues the path of peaceful development and will never seek hegemony and expansion.
If the Americans can have an "American dream" and the Europeans a "European dream", there is no reason why the Chinese people cannot have a Chinese Dream.
To realize the Chinese Dream, China has to achieve national development and socialist modernization through peaceful and civilized means. In this context, the West has nothing to worry about the modernization of China's military. Unlike former colonial powers, China has never invaded another country. On the contrary, it has always advocated (and still does advocate) harmonious coexistence, seeking common ground and shelving differences.
The PLA as a pillar of State security follows the trend of the times and follows a principle that is different from colonial aggression and expansion. And China firmly believes in the principles of peace, cooperation and development of military ties with other countries.
Besides, the more than three decades of rapid economic growth that China has experienced was not based on beggar-thy-neighbor policy. Instead, it was based on reform and opening up China's market to the outside world. China's policy has benefited the rest of the world as well as itself.
In recent years, especially after the global financial crisis, China has become the engine of global economic growth. Facts and figures testify that the Chinese Dream, including the dream to build a strong military, is one of peace and win-win development for China and the rest of the world.
The Chinese Dream includes building China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, powerful, democratic and harmonious. It entails the goal of national reunification and requires China to help maintain world peace and facilitate the development of the human race.
It is thus clear that the modernization of China's defense forces is an essential part of national rejuvenation. If its military is strong, China can be on the way to realize the dream of rejuvenating the nation.
The author is deputy director of the Institute for
Strategic Studies at the National Defense University.
(China Daily 10/08/2013 page9)