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Primary Source: Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military (1)
A Vermilion Translation Project
This is our new translation project on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) series, “Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military.” The goal of this project is to educate non-Chinese speakers on PLA ideology and illustrate how the PLA is not a national military, it is the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party.
In its original form, this series delves into the relevance of Xi Jinping Thought to the PLA and discusses how reforms need to be made within the PLA to strengthen commitment to Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party as a whole.
We’ve translated the text from Chinese into English and then from Communist Party jargon into plain text.
VERMILION: What led to “Xi Jinping’s Thought on Strengthening the Military”?
Xi analyzes the current international situation as undergoing “great changes unseen in a century.” While seemingly benign, this refers to the rise of the east (primarily China) and the fall of the west (primarily the US). It is in this context that Xi says China will transition from simply being a large nation to a powerful nation, and in doing so will be able to create an international order in its own image.
Xi believes that China is presently facing unprecedented external pressure as well as the possibility of international systemic shocks. During this transition there will be chaos that produces obstacles and opportunities, and CCP cadres must be ready to seize these opportunities while also being prepared to negotiate any obstacles.
Facing this situation, Xi orders the military to overcome its own legacy hurdles in order to be better at waging modern war and enabling the CCP. Xi believes this presents the Chinese military with a rare and historic opportunity to develop.
Notes: When Xi mentions “Rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” he is not simply referring to increasing the political status of the People’s Republic of China. He is talking about the “rejuvenation” of Han Chinese people as led by the Chinese Communist Party.
1.）How to understand the historic background of the formation of Xi Jinping Thought on strengthening the military?
This idea was formed and developed under the historical conditions of socialism with Chinese characteristics entering a new era and the profound changes in the world situation, national conditions and military situation. It is the theoretical crystallization from the whole practice of the cause of building a strong military in the new era.
The world today is experiencing major changes that have not occurred in a century. This is a major strategic judgment made by President Xi after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China by scientifically analyzing the development and changes of the international situation. This great change is reflected in the profound and complex changes in the international economy, science and technology, culture, security, politics and other patterns, the profound adjustment of the international power balance, the rise of the anti-globalization trend, the acceleration of the reform of the global governance system, and the intensification of the dispute over the development path and development model. Especially under the impact of the epidemic in the 21st century, the changes in the past century have accelerated. The most prominent feature of this great change is "rising in the east and falling in the west". China's development concept, development path and development model are significantly more influential and attractive. China is increasingly playing an important role as a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order. On the whole, peace and development remain the theme of the times, but the world has entered a period of turbulence and change, and the external environment is becoming more complex, severe and uncertain.
China is at a critical stage of development from large to strong. After more than 40 years of unremitting efforts since the founding of the People's Republic of China, especially the reform and opening up, China's economic strength, scientific and technological strength, comprehensive national strength and people's living standards have risen to a new level, becoming the world's second largest economy, the first largest industrial country, the first largest goods trading country, and the first largest foreign exchange reserve country. At present and in the future, China's development is still in an important period of strategic opportunities, but both opportunities and challenges have new development changes. Opportunities are more strategic and flexible, and challenges are more complex and overall. China is facing a more severe national security situation, with unprecedented external pressure. Traditional security threats and non-traditional security threats are intertwined, and "black swan" and "grey rhinoceros" incidents occur from time to time.
▶The world today is undergoing major changes unseen in a century. Such a major change is not a one-time event, one domain or one country, but a change in the world, the times, and history.
▶Leading cadres must have two overall situations in mind, one is the strategic overall situation of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and the other is the major changes in the world that have not been seen in a century.
▶Great changes bring great challenges as well as great opportunities. We must plan accordingly, move in response to the trend, and act according to the trend.
A new round of scientific and technological revolution and military revolution accelerated development. From the perspective of the recent local wars and military operations in the world, the degree of informatization in modern wars has been continuously improved, the characteristics of intelligence have become increasingly apparent, and the concepts, elements and ways of winning have changed significantly. The speed, scope, depth and influence of the world's new military revolution are rare since the end of the Second World War. Major countries have seized the commanding heights of military strategy and strived for new advantages in international military competition. What is particularly noteworthy is that the driving role of the scientific and technological revolution in the military revolution has become increasingly prominent. Some cutting-edge technologies have developed rapidly and may fundamentally change the face and rules of war.
National defense and military construction have entered a new era. The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has launched a new journey to strengthen the country and the military. National defense and military construction stand at a new historical starting point, have a solid practical foundation, and face a rare development opportunity. At the same time, there are many institutional obstacles, structural contradictions and policy problems accumulated over a long period of time, and many new situations and problems are encountered. Over the years, our army has undergone a broad and profound military transformation, achieved the reshaping of political ecology, organizational form, power system, style and image, and made solid steps on the road to building a strong military with Chinese characteristics, and achieved a series of major theoretical, practical and institutional achievements.