While the Indo-China border dispute in Sikkim has been raging over the last few weeks, China, which is known to have the world's largest army, is set to downsize the number to under one million. This is set to be the biggest downsizing exercise until now.
While the move has raised quite a few eyebrows with many wondering about the timing, Jun Zhengping Studio, PLA Daily's WeChat account, said in an article that the restructuring process was being carried out by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to boost other sections of the forces.
"The old military structure, where the army accounts for the vast majority, will be replaced after the reform," the report said, according to the Press Trust of India.
"The reform is based on China's strategic goals and security requirements. In the past, the PLA focused on ground battle and homeland defence, which will undergo fundamental changes," the report said.
"This is the first time that active PLA army personnel would be reduced to below one million." Earlier the PLA had a strength of about 2.3 million personnel but the number came down after it announced a cut of about 3,00,000 troops in 2015.
China is now said to have taken the decision to downsize the PLA in a bid to boost its navy strength. The move is also set to increase the number of personnel in PLA Strategic Support Force and the PLA Rocket Force. However, the air force will remain unaffected.
"This reform will provide other services, including the PLA Rocket Force, Air Force, Navy and Strategic Support Force (mainly responsible for electronic warfare and communication), with more resources and inputs, and the PLA will strengthen its capability to conduct overseas missions," Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times.
By increasing its naval strength the PLA intends to be able to handle "overseas threats" much before they can enter the country's territorial waters. "The PLA must be capable of spotting overseas threats and destroying hostile forces thousands of kilometers away before they enter our 12 nautical mile territorial waters. China's overseas interests are spread around the world and need to be protected. These are beyond the army's current capabilities," Xu added.
Meanwhile, the Chinese media has in the last few days said that China is more powerful than India in economic as well as military terms. An editorial in the Global Times even went on to say that India should withdraw its troops from the border or the Chinese People's Liberation Army will "kick" them out.
India currently has 13,25,000 active military personnel and about 490 million people who are fit to join the forces. China is said to have about 619 million people who are fit to join the army.
About 46,35,000 military personnel are currently serving in the Chinese military, and 34,68,000 are a part of the Indian military.