16 August 2015

China Stages Live Military Drills to Sharpen Joint Command

Ting Shi
August 11, 2015

China’s military has begun a series of live-fire drills involving more than 140,000 troops that aim to improve joint operational command.

The four main branches of the People’s Liberation Army have over the past two days launched exercises in the Chengdu and Nanjing military regions, state media said. The drills -- code named Joint Action-2015 -- are among five training sessions involving the army, navy, air force and the Second Artillery Corps, the nuclear weapons unit, the official PLA Daily said.

China plans 100 joint exercises this year as the country’s largely untested military steps up efforts to sharpen combat-readiness at a time of rising tensions over territorial disputes with Asian neighbors. President and commander-in-chief Xi Jinping has boosted military spending and pushed the PLA, the world’s largest military with 2.3 million active members, to enhance its ability to fight and win battles.

Compared with previous drills, this year’s exercises will place more emphasis on improving joint-command efficiency among various branches of the armed forces, with a focus on maritime operational training, according to the PLA Daily. Xinhua also quoted an official from the general staff as saying the drills will also emphasize improving strategic early warning, surveillance gathering, logistical support and developing a new type of combat force -- a reference to cyber warfare.

The PLA Navy last month conducted live drills in the South China Sea, where China has been asserting its claims to more than 80 percent of one of the world’s busiest waterways. China’s construction of an artificial island with a runway capable of landing military jets has riled other claimant states such as the Philippines and fueled tensions with the U.S., which runs regular patrols in the area.

Another military exercise at a base in Inner Mongolia in July included an assault on a building that resembled the presidential office in Taiwan. China still considers Taiwan a renegade province almost 70 years after the civil war that led Nationalist forces to flee across the strait.

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