Carry Forward the Red Tradition Safeguard Peace and Security – Celebrating the 94th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Liberation Army of China
China’s Defence Attache to the UK Major General Su Guanghui
24 July 2021
In just a few days, we will celebrate the 94th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army of China. On 1st August 94 years ago, the Nanchang Uprising marked the birth of a people’s army under the command of the Chinese Communist Party. Over the past 94 years, this people’s army has held fast to its revolutionary ideals above all else, displayed its bravery and courage and lived up to its mission. In defiance of the dangers of war and various obstacles and challenges, this people’s army has demonstrated its utmost loyalty to the Party and the people with great sacrifice. It has made indelible contribution to the liberation of the nation, the development of socialism and the cause of reforms. It has achieved tremendous victory in safeguarding national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity. Over the past 94 years, this people’s army, guided by the Party and with an aim to serve the people, has grown from small to big, from weak to strong. It has vigorously forged ahead, resolutely performed its duties, and advanced modernization by following the trends of world military development and responding to China’s national security demands. The past 94 years unfold a magnificent scroll depicting China’s determined efforts to build a stronger military.
These were 94 years of struggle and glory, and 94 years of unwavering pursuit of the original mission. Guided by Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening the military, the PLA in the new era has been stepping up its efforts to fully transform into a world-class military and made remarkable achievements. As President Xi points out, “all that CCP do is to seek happiness for the Chinese people, rejuvenation for the nation and peace and development for the whole humanity.” As an armed force created and led by CCP, the PLA will always remain true to its original aspiration, keep its mission firmly in mind and assiduously fulfill the tasks entrusted by the Party and the people so as to make further contributions to safeguarding people’s happiness, supporting national rejuvenation and promoting world peace and security.
Firstly, China’s military will always be the solid pillar for safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests. The Chinese people and the CCP have learned from a century of experience that a strong military must be built so as to provide strategic support for national rejuvenation. Peace has not come easy and must continue to be safeguarded. The world is now in the midst of eventful years far from peaceful, with diversified instabilities and security threats lingering on. China is confronted with increasingly complicated external obstacles and challenges that may undermine its stable development. Internally, a handful of rampant separatist and hostile forces are undermining China’s national security. Keenly aware of the utmost importance and urgency to safeguard national security, China’s military constantly strengthens its consciousness of dangers, crises and its mission, prepares for the worst, and remain as vigilant and ready as a strained bow for potential combat, which, when necessary, will immediately respond, fight and win. In particular, on issues concerning China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity, China’s military will take all necessary measures at any cost to safeguard national unity with stronger determination, greater capacity and more reliable means.
Secondly, China’s military will always provide strong support for building a community with a shared future for mankind. As President Xi points out, “to build a community with a shared future for mankind so as to pass on the torch of peace from generation to generation, to sustain development and to make civilization flourish is what people of all countries long for and the irreversible trend of world development today.” Guided by this thinking, China’s military in the New Era takes on a vision featuring common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. It earnestly fulfills its international responsibilities and obligations as a big country, further deepens bilateral and multilateral military and security cooperation and proactively provides more public security goods to the world. Notably, since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, China’s military has faithfully implemented the concept of building a community of common health for mankind proposed by President Xi, and in an effort to protect the health and life of people all over the world, has deepened cooperation with foreign militaries in covid-19 prevention and control, making important contributions to the building of a community of common health for mankind. So far, China’s military has provided assistance materials including face masks and ventilators to over 50 countries such as Mozambique, Serbia, Cuba and Laos, sent medic expert teams to 4 countries such as Cambodia and Pakistan, and held on-line experience sharing meetings with nearly 20 militaries and international organizations such as Russia and Singapore. With utmost sincerity for cooperation and efforts to overcome hardship, China’s military has honoured its commitment and contributed positive energy to the joint efforts of the international community in combating the rampant pandemic.
Thirdly, China’s military will always be a powerful force for peace and stability in the region and the world. President Xi emphasizes that “peace, concord, and harmony are ideas that the Chinese nation has pursued and carried forward for more than 5,000 years; the Chinese nation does not carry aggressive or hegemonic traits in its genes.” Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China has unswervingly pursued a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. The active defence principle is clearly enshrined in China’s National Defense Law, and serves as a fundamental policy that is firmly and constantly followed by China’s military. Since the beginning of the new century, China has had no part in any war or armed conflict taking place around the world, nor has it created any crisis in any region. Moreover, China voluntarily reduced the size of its armed forces several times, and signed and accessed to dozens of multilateral treaties on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. China’s military has always been a vanguard force in safeguarding regional and international peace. In the area of UN peace keeping operations, China is the second largest contributor to both peacekeeping assessment and United Nations membership fees, and the largest troop-contributing country among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, sending over 50,000 peacekeepers to nearly 30 UN peacekeeping missions. China’s armed forces have expanded the composition of their peacekeeping troops from single service to multiple military branches, enabling Chinese peacekeepers to perform diverse tasks in addition to enabling functions. The objectives of China’s peacekeeping efforts have extended beyond conflict prevention to building lasting peace. As a result, the peacekeeping capacity of China’s armed forces has been further strengthened. For safeguarding the safety of maritime routes, China’s military dispatches naval ships to carry out regular vessel protection operations in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the coast of Somalia. In the past decade, 37 convoys, each consisting of three to four ships, carried out vessel protection operations, having provided security protection for nearly 7000 Chinese and foreign ships. In counter terrorism, China actively holds bilateral consultations with relevant countries, strengthens multilateral cooperation within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and conducts joint counter-terrorism exercises and exchanges. Moreover, China’s military takes an active part in the international humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Military professionals are dispatched to conduct disaster relief operations in affected countries, providing relief materials and medical aid. In recent years, the PLA Navy’s hospital ship Peace Ark has visited more than 40 countries and regions, having provided medical services to over 230,000 people. All these examples and statistics demonstrate China’s role as a confident and responsible country and illustrate the approach of China’s military to protect world peace and security. History has proven and will continue to prove that no matter how strong China’s military becomes, China will never seek hegemony, expansion or spheres of influence. China’s military will always be a staunch force for regional and international peace and stability.
At present, our world has entered a special period of time in history. It is facing the combined challenges of a global pandemic and major changes, both unseen in a century, and witnessing a serious contest between multilateralism and unilateralism and an intensified resurgence of various conflicts, confrontations and governance dilemma. International peace and security encounter serious challenges like never before, which cannot be tackled without strong and joint response from the international community. China’s military is ready to work with UK counterparts and armed forces from all over the world, to maintain communications and exchanges, and to strengthen coordination and cooperation so as to forge a strong security shield for world peace, development and prosperity.
Firstly, we should respect and trust each other. Mutual respect and mutual trust are the foundation for exchanges between different countries and militaries. At all times, China underscores that all countries are equal, regardless of their size, strength and wealth, and stand against imposing one's own will on others, interfering in other countries’ internal affairs, and the practice of the strong bullying the weak. When conducting military exchanges and cooperation, China will never meddle in issues concerning sovereignty and internal affairs of other countries. Likewise, China will never accept any foreign infringement on Chinese sovereignty and interference in China’s internal affairs. China, as always, holds that bilateral relationship between countries should be based on equality, mutual respect for core interest and major concerns. Only in this way can any bilateral dialogues and cooperation be relevant. Only in this way can people enjoy the fruits of healthy and stable bilateral relations.
Secondly, we should promote cooperation and pursue win-win results. Global security and development challenges have become increasingly complicated. All countries, especially big ones, shoulder a historic responsibility to safeguard international and regional peace and stability. This however cannot be achieved without worldwide solidarity and cooperation. China’s military will, as always, actively promote constructive military to military relations with other countries and advocate, safeguard and practice multilateralism. China opposes any act of isolation, exclusiveness, “zero sum” game and putting one’s own interests before others. China endeavors to conduct sincere communication and take pragmatic measures to build up win-win military-to-military relations that will grow strong, mature and prosperous through cooperation.
Thirdly, we should properly manage differences and disagreements. History and reality keep reminding us that a world of division and confrontation cannot cope with humanity’s common challenges. The international community must categorically oppose the acts of inciting bloc confrontation and creating geopolitical separation. Countries of the world should bridge the divide that hinders peace and justice, instead of driving countries further apart. Therefore, China, in a spirit of seeking common ground while reserving differences, hopes to transcend historical, cultural and ideological divergences, and work with UK as well as other countries to follow the trend of the times, remove various obstacles and make joint efforts to build a security architecture featuring equality, mutual trust, fairness, justice, joint contribution and shared benefits so as to strive for a better world of lasting peace and common security.