Source: The Hitavada      Date: 14 Jul 2017 11:21:14

THE fact that China is in the process of restructuring its armed forces and would downsize its army 0f 2.3 million persons to less than one million, should make the world sit up and take notice. For, this intended restructuring is being effected with the changing priorities of the global scenario from the Chinese perspective. Obviously, this move would have very wide ramifications in the time to come and might affect the overall global strategic considerations. For, when a country with the world’s biggest standing army decides to downsize its ground forces, it does so with a clear-headed thinking of what it proposes to achieve in the next some time. Obviously, the Chinese leadership has proposed a major boost to the nation’s navy, perhaps the biggest in the world, and the missile forces. The air force is being kept unaltered in numbers, as the proposal reads. This means clearly that China is in the process of redefining the use of its various forces. 

Even as the world came to know of the intended restructuring of the Chinese armed forces, it also got to know that China has moved its troops for its first ever overseas base in Djibouti at the confluence of the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. That is a strategically critical spot whose control may help China to exercise a fair dominance over the seafaring movement in the area. To man such a base, China would need less of its ground forces and more of naval and other forces. In the new condition, Missile and the air forces will have a greater use and value to the Chinese plans rather than ground forces.

In the given geopolitical condition, particularly India to its south, China cannot access the seas directly. Hence the need now is to approach its various projects -- of encirclement of India, so to say -- through the sea route. Hence the new stress on increased naval manpower and firepower and less stress on ground forces, that is military.
Thus, proposed downsizing of the Chinese army, however, will never be a matter to be rejoiced about by other countries.

For, a country of the critical importance as China would never undertake any such exercise without substantial reasons and without ensuring that all its security and strategic perceptions are taken care of. With an increased stress intended on naval and missile forces, it is obvious that many other countries will have to adjust their strategic perceptions accordingly.

This task will not be restricted only to India in the immediate neighbourhood, but also powers like the United States or United Kingdom or Russia or Japan or North Korea, either distant or in the immediate neighbourhood, will have to redefine respective strategic priorities.

The world has watched over time how China has expanded its circle of influence . In its policy of India’s encirclement, China has only added a rather lethal value by establishing connects with the smaller countries in the Indian sub-continent. In order to approach these new connections, China will have to depend more on its naval force, which is being restructured in the new exercise. Thus, in the future not so distant in time, the world will have to cope with newer strategic realities that would emerge from the Chinese drawing board.

When a country like China gets engaged in restructuring of its armed forces, it is time for the world to take notice with great keenness. It is obvious that the Chinese leadership is preparing to launch a new game which the world will have to contend with. It proposes to call the shots in the newer strategic environs whose dimensions it now proposes to control. This is a new assertion that should ring alarm bells the world over. It is obvious that the Chinese have taken a step that would seek to disturb the world’s military equations.
For India, this new challenge is of paramount importance.