EIGHTEEN helicopters land with a roar at Zhurihe, a military base in Inner Mongolia. Troops pour onto the endless prairie in a mock airborne assault, marking, said China Daily, a state-owned newspaper, “the first time the People’s Liberation Army had presented fighting manoeuvres in a parade” (troops usually just march up and down). Looking on, in combat fatigues, was China’s president, Xi Jinping. The occasion was the 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA on August 1st. The event signalled a new phase in China’s biggest military shake-up for half a century. That shake-up is a case study in Mr Xi’s style of modernisation, and may hold lessons for reform in other areas.
The PLA is officially the armed wing of the Communist Party. For years its main jobs were to keep order at home and protect against an invasion across the border with the Soviet Union. Now Mr Xi wants it to project force abroad, requiring joint operations with the navy, air force and…Continue reading