China overhauls military education, modernizing troops to be ready to fight [VIDEO]

Updated: May 6, 2021

The People’s Liberation Army is revamping its education system, the latest step in China’s military modernization drive.

President Xi Jinping, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, on Monday approved a military education guideline that outlines the new training system. While details have not been released, the guideline demands a holistic approach, combining academic studies, military and vocational training, to prepare future servicemen and women, according to a Xinhua report.

It is a departure from the previous emphasis on non-combat-related aspects of training such as theoretical and political studies, which was not an effective way to prepare soldiers for a more modern Chinese force, according to Zhou Chenming, a Beijing-based military expert.

“China’s military education system has failed to train personnel for the demands of a modernized force, as some universities are teaching general knowledge without a special focus on the military. So when those soldiers are dispatched to the front line, they need to learn from scratch,” he said.

“Some of the education is too academic – it trains soldiers into scientists who don’t understand the actual needs of the fighting force at present.”

Zhou said the training overhaul was the final step in China’s military modernization drive.

China overhauls military education, modernizing troops to be ready to fight

China has been pushing a modernization program since 2017, with the intention of building a world-class army with technology as its key combat strength by 2035. To achieve that, China has poured more money into developing military hardware and more drills are being conducted than ever before to boost combat-readiness.

Xi also repeated his call for troops to be “ready for battle”, at a time when tensions are escalating with the United States, including over Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Shanghai-based military analyst Ni Lexiong said there was now a focus on training to make the best use of the PLA’s new modernized hardware.

“China’s military education system has not kept pace with other changes in the military – soldiers need to have not only the theoretical knowledge, but also knowledge with practical value [in real battle situations],” he said.

Hong Kong military commentator Song Zhongping agreed, saying future officers needed both military and professional training to help build a combat-ready force.

China has two military universities, the PLA National Defence University and the National University of Defence Technology. It also has dozens of other education organisations with a special focus on fields of expertise such as submarines and armored vehicles.

The military also cooperates with Chinese universities such as Peking University and Beihang University to train personnel ranging from fighter pilots to commanders.

Xi highlighted the importance of having well-trained and educated soldiers during a visit to the PLA Army Infantry Academy in Nanchang last year. “The army’s educational institutions were established to study how to fight and win. We must teach with a focus on real combat scenarios and educate more talent,” state broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying at the time.


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