Beijing, July 20 (IANS) It has been a big year for China’s military as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) prepares to celebrate its 90th birthday.
In April this year, China’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier was launched, followed by the debut of its new generation of destroyer in June. In July, the country’s first aircraft carrier allowed visits by the public for the first time.
As the 90th birthday approaches, the country’s army has shown how much its military capacity has grown, reports Xinhua news agency.
The PLA has come a long way since its birth during the armed uprising in Nanchang city on August 1, 1927 when it had only 20,000 soldiers.
Ninety years later, China boasts of two million servicemen, making it the world’s largest military force.
Besides the growth in numbers, the PLA has armed its soldiers with world-class equipment.
During China’s epic V-Day parade in September 2015, the country displayed its Dongfeng-5B intercontinental strategic missiles, designed to carry nuclear warheads, and its Dongfeng-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles, described by some media as the “carrier killer”.
Other cutting-edge weaponry included the PLA’s state-of-the-art tanks, unmanned aerial vehicles and its new generation of airborne early warning and control aircraft, carrier-based fighters and attack helicopters that fly low across the sky.
In April, China launched its second aircraft carrier in a Dalian shipyard in the northeastern province of Liaoning. It is the first carrier designed and built by China.
The country’s first carrier, the Liaoning, was a refitted Soviet Union-made carrier put into commission by the PLA Navy in 2012.
Another Navy development was the launch of a new destroyer, a domestically designed and produced 10,000-tonne vessel.
The destroyer is the first vessel of China’s new generation of destroyers equipped with new air defence, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons.
All this can be seen in a video titled “PLA Today” released by the Ministry of National Defence last week, Xinhua reported.
The 16-minute English-language video, with Chinese subtitles, displayed a host of unmanned “smart” military vehicles, reconnaissance robots and drones, followed by footage of live-fire drills in the South China Sea and the East China Sea in July last year.
“If war is declared, we are ready,” one line said.
The video was not the PLA’s only bid for attention on social media. The military debuted a five-episode live-streaming programme on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service on Tuesday.
The first episode featured China’s airborne troops and showed the tough training soldiers must undergo.
In 2017, China, the world’s second largest economy, budgeted 1.04 trillion yuan ($153 billion) for annual military expenditures.
The figure is second only to the US, which has a military spending budget of $583.7 billion.