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China to Reduce Army's Strength by 200,000

September 02, 2003|From Times Wire Services

BEIJING — China announced plans Monday to cut 200,000 soldiers from its People's Liberation Army as part of efforts to modernize its armed forces, the world's largest military.

The move would reduce the army's strength to 2.3 million troops, the official New China News Agency said, and will coincide with the introduction of more high-tech battle systems.

"With the introduction of new technology -- especially information technology -- international competition in the area of military affairs is getting hotter," said former President Jiang Zemin, who still heads the government and Communist Party commissions that control the military.

By reducing manpower, China can "maximize the use of its limited strategic resources and speed up information technology development in the military," Jiang said at 50th anniversary celebrations for the National Defense Science and Technology University.

China's military is still oriented toward ground combat, with huge numbers of troops.

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