China's military development is key to its own defense, but also indispensable for global security
Liu Qiang
The 41st Chinese naval escort taskforce set sail for the Gulf of Aden, May 18, 2022. /CFP

The 41st Chinese naval escort taskforce set sail for the Gulf of Aden, May 18, 2022. /CFP

Editor's note: Liu Qiang is Vice Chairman, Director of Academic Committee and Senior Research Fellow of Shanghai Center for RimPac Strategic and International Studies. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

A responsible great power shoulders the dual mission of maintaining national stability to ensure that people live and work in peace and contentment, and promoting a safe, stable and peaceful world. As one of the world's major powers, China has been advancing such a philosophy with concrete actions despite the fact that it is still a developing country.

Military strength stands at the heart of a country's hard power, and plays a unique role in maintaining national and global security. In a world with a constantly changing strategic landscape, the question of whether and how to further strengthen China's armed forces is of significant strategic relevance and therefore must be answered.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, pointed out a clear direction for China's military development by commenting that efforts must be made to act on the CPC's philosophy on strengthening the military for the new era, to unswervingly stride forward along the path of building a powerful military with Chinese characteristics, to firmly adhere to the Party's objective of strengthening the military under new circumstances, and to develop the People's Liberation Army (PLA) into a world-class military. This is necessary for at least three reasons.

First, China needs a powerful military to navigate the world's most complicated geopolitical environment ridden with interwoven security concerns and looming security threats. In a world where the law of the jungle is gaining traction rather than fading out of history, a powerful military serves as a bulwark for the national security of China, a populous country with a vast territory that is yet to be completely unified.

In particular, as the "Taiwan independence" forces both outside and inside the island ratchet up their separatist attempt, the importance of forbidding military strength cannot be overstated in executing counteractions and maintaining China's territorial integrity.

Second, only with a modernized military can China safeguard its national security and development interest. In recent years, with the resurgence of the Cold War mentality, the West increasingly sees China as a threat while turning a blind eye to the peaceful nature of its development. Some countries have gone all out to encircle and contain China, posing formidable challenges to its national security and development interest.

A mixed fleet of Chinese and Russian naval vessels passed through the Tsugaru Strait on the voyage of the first China-Russia joint maritime patrol, October 18, 2021. /CFP

A mixed fleet of Chinese and Russian naval vessels passed through the Tsugaru Strait on the voyage of the first China-Russia joint maritime patrol, October 18, 2021. /CFP

Without a powerful military, safeguarding national sovereignty, territorial integrity and the people's wellbeing would be an incredibly daunting task. While size is an important indicator of a military's strength, what is more important is quality. Although China has made significant strides over the years in improving the quality of its military forces, thanks to its rapid technological advancement, it still has some way to go to build a completely modernized military that is on par with its U.S. counterpart.

Seen by the U.S., as well as its allies, as the "biggest threat," China needs to step up its effort in building a modernized military in order to strike a balance of power between the two sides, and protect its national security and development interest.

Third, in a complex and turbulent international security environment, responsible military powers are needed to tackle traditional and non-traditional security threats. China's military forces have made great contributions to maintaining global peace and security by actively participating in peacekeeping, anti-terrorist, vessel-escorting and humanitarian operations, but many problems and challenges remain unsolved.

To be an even greater defender of world peace and stability and a more adamant advocate for the concept of "community of shared future for mankind," China needs to build a more potent and modernized military that has a global vision and is quicker in response.

China's military strategy of active defense is peaceful in nature. Therefore, the development and strengthening of its armed forces is a boon rather than a bane for the security of China and the world as a whole. 

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