China reducing army by 300,000 troops as part of modernization plans

– President Xi Jinping’s announcement Thursday that China will cut its military by 300,000 troops was couched in the language of peace. Yet analysts say that it was intended as a move to modernize and strengthen, not diminish, the country’s armed forces.

Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at Australian National University, said however that Beijing may have planned the troop cut “in the name of efficiency and cost saving so that the defense budget can be reallocated to 21st century capabilities.”

“Infantry are no longer a measure of power,” he said. “One metric to watch is overall military spending, which goes up in China by double digits each year — ahead of economic growth. Another metric to watch is the development of new and leading-edge technologies like cyber, hypersonic missiles and submarines.

Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said that Beijing would complete the troop cuts by 2017 “in its latest effort to build slimmer but stronger armed forces,” according to the official New China News Agency. He added that the cuts would target “outdated armaments, administrative staff and noncombatant personnel.”

China has 2.3 million troops, compared with the 1.3 million members of the U.S. armed forces.

China troop reductions