China apparently wants to tell the world that it is ready for war after the country’s massive show of military force on Sunday, which marked the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army.
Held in Zhurihe in Inner Mongolia, the event displayed how the PLA has developed and improved under its current commander, President Xi Jinping, reports the South China Morning Post.
Analysts have noted how the ceremony itself has evolved from just the typical marching troops in battledress, which have been a tradition in Chinese military parades. Observers believe that China intends to show it has embraced the modern changes necessary for battle.
“Be ready to assemble at the first call and be capable of fighting and winning any battle,” Xi told his troops.
The parade also highlights the significance of the role of the PLA as China continues to push its influence in Asia and other parts of the world.
“I firmly believe that … our heroic army has the confidence and capabilities to maintain the nation’s sovereignty, security and development interests,” Xi said.
According to the former vice president of the Defense Institute of China and current think tank for the Chinese military, Major General Xu Guangyu, the parade is a perfect way to test the army’s battle readiness.
“You can’t create a war to test their abilities on the battleground,” Xu said. “But you need to look at how pilots are flying their jets … how soldiers are controlling their tanks.”
Former Chinese president Hu Jintao, whom Xi preceded in late 2012, appeared to be not as involved in the state of the country’s military affairs. Under his term, the Central Military Commission was reportedly plagued with rampant corruption and divided leadership.
This year’s parade ultimately shows off how much Xi has done to improve the military since he assumed office five years ago.
He immediately restructured the PLA by creating the Joint Battle Command directly under the Joint Staff Department and appointed himself as its commander-in-chief. Despite trimming the force by 300,000, Xi compensated by providing the best military equipment money can buy.
In 2015, China’s military spending figure was $146 billion, which saw an 11% increase from its budget of $131 billion in 2014, making the budget the second largest in the world behind the U.S. The budget for 2016 was announced at $147 billion.