The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (pla) is undergoing “transformational changes” to greatly boost the size of its navy and air force and to downsize its land-based army by nearly half, the nation’s official Xinhua news agency said on January 20.
“This new data is unprecedented in the history of the pla,” the agency wrote. As a result of the changes, it said, “the Army now accounts for less than 50 percent of the total number of pla troops; almost half of our noncombatant units have been made redundant.”
This “transformational” shift means the Chinese military’s other four branches—the Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force, which focuses on cyber, electronic and space warfare—now comprise more than half of the total pla.
South China Morning Post on January 21 paraphrased Shanghai-based defense expert Ni Lexiong as saying that “the overhaul marked a significant strategic shift from having a homeland-based defensive force to one with the capacity to allow Beijing to flex its muscles beyond its national borders and to protect its interests overseas.”
With 2 million personnel in the ranks, the pla is the world’s largest military force by number of personnel. Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping, who is also the pla’s commander in chief, is making this overhaul “to meet the pressing needs of the changing times,” Ni told the Post.
When placed in the context of Bible prophecy, Xi’s focus on boosting the power of the Chinese Navy is particularly significant. As this expansion in naval power forges ahead, China is also tightening its control on the South China Sea, further developing its first overseas base in the African nation of Djibouti, and laying the groundwork to establish a naval base in Gwadar, Pakistan. China is stealthily building an economic foundation for numerous other naval bases around the world as well. With its increasing focus on naval power, China will be capable of defending and expanding these various hubs.
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has said that China’s rising naval power—in the South China Sea and beyond—should alarm the world because it means “China is steering the world toward war.”