Troop cuts signal path of peaceful development
President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the Tian'anmen Rostrum before the parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Sept 3, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]
The announcement by President Xi Jinping to cut China's troops by 300,000 ahead of an epic V-Day parade on Thursday proves the nation's resolve to sticking to the path of peaceful development.
The timing of the announcement, which surprised many, demonstrates China's sincerity as the much-anticipated parade was the nation's first one to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War.
The reduction is a consistent move for China, which has been an active force in arms control and disarmament in the global arena.
The cuts, which are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017, will be China's 11th military reduction since the founding of New China on October 1, 1949, and the fourth one since the 1980s.
In 1985, China downsized its army by more than 1 million, the largest cuts ever. After the recent move, China's troop levels will stand at 2 million, compared with 6.27 million in October 1949.
Very few countries have made so many reductions on such large scales.
The scheduled cuts have proven arguments that China meant to showcase its military muscle with the massive parade groundless. Such voices are out of ill intent because they underline a so-called "China Threat" theory which is being hyped up by some western media outlets.
The reductions also show the Chinese government is not chanting empty slogans while saying Thursday's commemoration activities are aimed partly at cherishing peace and opening up the future.
True, even after the reduction, China's military forces will still be the world's largest, but the size, which is kept for defensive purposes, meets the practical needs of the nation, which has a population of 1.3 billion.
Aside from safeguarding national unity and territorial integrity, China needs a military to undertake non-military tasks such as disaster relief, peacekeeping and international rescue.
Official statistics reveal that since a devastating earthquake in 2008, China's armed forces have deployed more than 2.5 million military staff in non-military missions.
On a global stage, about 30,000 Chinese soldiers have so far served in UN's peacekeeping missions, the most among all five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Additionally, China also needs its military to cope with the threat of terrorism, separatism and extremism.
Therefore, keeping an appropriate level of armed forces is necessary for China.
Compared to Japan, which has 250,000 troops for a population of less than 130 million, the 2 million troops remaining is not that large for China, whose population is ten times that of Japan.
Although China will maintain a moderate budget for national defense, the money will be mostly used to meet various needs including expenditure on new armaments, information technology and salaries.
An official budget report revealed in March that China's military expenditure in 2014 accounted for less than 1.5 percent of GDP, well below the world's average of 2.6 percent.[ Editor: meng ]