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Xi Underlines Innovation, Reform in Defense, Military Upgrade
   2016-03-13 20:45:21    Xinhua      Web Editor: Zhang Peng

President Xi Jinping on Sunday highlighted theoretical and technological innovation as the key to upgrade the country's military and national defense.

Speaking to national lawmakers from the military, Xi, also chairman of the Central Military Commission, said the People's Liberation Army (PLA)'s future hinges on innovation and reform.

He urged the armed forces to fully implement the innovation-driven development strategy, place combat capacity at the center of all their work, and step up theoretical and technological innovation.

Military administration and high-caliber personnel were also identified as areas to be improved. The PLA should focus on priority areas in order to kickstart across-the-board innovation and make the military stronger, Xi said.

He told PLA lawmakers that the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020) is crucial to China's national defense and military development, and urged the armed forces to uphold political integrity, reform and rule of law, and strengthen their military buildup and combat readiness.

Xi's remarks came in the wake of a major military overhaul that saw the inauguration of a General Command for the Army, the PLA Rocket Force and the PLA Strategic Support Force in December, and the regrouping of seven military area commands into five PLA theater commands in February.

Earlier this month, China announced its lowest defense budget increase in six years in the wake of rising economic headwinds.

According to a budget report given to the national legislature annual session, the government plans to raise the 2016 defense budget by 7.6 percent to 954 billion yuan (about 146 billion U.S. dollars). The increase last year was 10.1 percent.

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