Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Outline of China's Military Reform Released, details still to come

Pres Xi Jinping at recent ceremony
As this blog has previously reported, China's Central Military Commission (CMC) issued a framework policy document in late November with principles and targets for reforming the Chinese military and national defense establishment. On the first of January, the Chinese government released the full text . There are two takeaways for readers of this blog:
  • the stress on "legal thinking" as one of the basic principles;
  • reforming the military legal system as the last of ten fundamental areas for reform.
The details are still forthcoming on the reorganization of the military legal system and the persons who will assume leadership roles.

Legal thinking

The principle of "legal thinking" is much the same principle that has been reported earlier in this blog, that is having law setting out guidelines for reform, with the goal of having a legal basis for reforms, legislation and reforms synchronized, and put the reform "train" on legal tracks.

Including it in the framework policy document highlights the importance of law as part of the Chinese leadership's conception of what is needed for a 21st century military force commensurate with their vision of China's place in the world.

Reforms to military legal system

On the reforms of the military legal system, those are summarized in one paragraph, with many of the principles set out in the Fourth Plenum Decision and documents discussed earlier in this blog.  A quick translation follows:

Fully implement the guiding principle [this is Party jargon] of governing the military according to law and governing the military strictly, improve methods of governing the military,  achieve a fundamental shift from simply relying on administrative order to administering according to law, achieve a fundamental shift  from simply relying on working habits and experience to relying on rules and regulations, make a fundamental change in operations from from an assault-style, campaign-style method to operating according to rules and regulations. 

Improve the legal system for the military and military counsel system, reform of the military justice system and Party disciplinary and supervision inspection mechanism, improve the audit system mechanisms,  improve the military legal talent management system, establish a comprehensive organizational law system and and procedural rules improve the organization, comprehensively improve the rule of law competence of national defense and the military.

Some quick remarks

It is clear that China's Party leadership has recognized that law is important in modernizing the PLA and the national defense sector of the economy. As events and systems unfold, we will report on how China's military leadership plans to make those fundamental changes and what its implications are for the rest of the world.

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