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Xi Jinping prepares for war: adopted the new conscription regulation

Focus on China - Military

G Iuvinale

On April 1, 2023, Central Military Commission (CMC) Chairman Xi Jinping and State Council Premier Li Qiang promulgated Order No. 753 of the CMC called "Regulation on military service". The Conscription Regulations will enter into force on May 1, 2023.

This is the second amendment of the regulations on military service adopted on October 24, 1985. The first revision based on the "Decision of the State Council and the Central Military Commission on the amendment of the regulations on conscription work" dates back to September 5, 2001.

The new regulation intends to standardize and strengthen conscription.

In fact, according to article 3

"Conscription is an important task in ensuring the supply of military personnel and in building and consolidating national defense and a powerful army. This Regulation applies to the work of conscripting citizens into active service according to the needs of national defense."
"Conscription work adheres to the leadership of the Communist Party of China, implements Xi Jinping's thinking on strengthening the military, implements the military strategy for the new era, obeys the needs of national defense, focuses on war preparation, and recruits senior officials quality soldiers legally, accurately and efficiently."

These are the most significant passages of the new law:

  • Article 8: The organs, organizations, enterprises and institutions shall carry out in-depth education on patriotism, revolutionary heroism, the glorious history of the army and the glory of service, and enhance citizens' awareness of national defense and service military in accordance with the law.

  • Article 9: Organizations and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to conscription work shall be commended and rewarded in accordance with relevant state and military provisions

  • Article 63: After the state has issued a mobilization order or the State Council and the Central Military Commission have taken national defense mobilization measures in accordance with the law, people's governments at all levels and military bodies shall organize wartime collection as required.

  • Article 64 paragraph 2: In times of war, as needed, retired soldiers may be recruited primarily to supplement from former active duty units or similar posts.

The new draft regulation places emphasis on the recruitment of highly qualified college students and establishes rules for the recall of skilled veterans during wartime.

This is a necessary move for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) as China deepens systematic reform of the army and improves wartime combat capability in a turbulent world, Chinese experts said.

The amended regulation stresses conscription of highly qualified soldiers with priority placed on college students. It notes that the conscription should be conducted based on the needs of the military.

In order to guarantee the PLA's focus on combat preparation, the new regulation optimizes the process to deploy new soldiers. Local military service authorities should shoulder the main responsibility to recruit new soldiers. The new soldiers can also sign up directly, according to the regulation.

In consideration of guaranteeing conscription during wartime, the newly revised regulation stipulates that, should a state of war be declared, main attention could be shifted to conscript skilled veterans in order to form combat capacity rapidly.

Conscripting soldiers from highly educated college students will help the PLA to increase overall quality and build a professionalized force, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Revision of relevant laws and regulations is a necessary move to guarantee the modernization of the PLA as the country aims to achieve modernization of the national defense and armed forces by 2035, Song said, noting the key is to ensure the military can rapidly scale up combat capacity and make the process more operable and executable given the turbulent world.

China has designed and carried out military reforms since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012 in order to modernize national defense and the armed forces and turn the PLA into a world-class force, which is necessary to safeguard the country's national interests, according to observers.

In 2021, the country updated its military service law with improvement in the welfare of military personnel and the system of registration for military service.

An army of ‘world class’

The new conscription regulation fits into the framework designed by Xi Jinping who wants an army of global significance.

Indeed, according to the US Department of Defense (DOD) “China wants to strengthen the PLA by making it an army of 'world class' by the end of 2049. For the US, Beijing it is the main strategic competitor.”

On several occasions, Xi Jinping has reiterated that it is necessary to "Focus on war preparations and wars."

China maintains that its defense policy aims to safeguard the national sovereignty, security and development interests. Beijing sees these objectives as fundamental to the national strategy and considers them armed forces increasingly a tool to defend global interests in expansion and to achieve foreign policy ends within the framework of Major Power Diplomacy in a New Era The 2019 Defense White Paper identifies also the national defense goals that support these interests:

  • discourage and resist aggression;

  • safeguard national political security, the safety of the people and social stability;

  • oppose and contain the 'independence of Taiwan';

  • crack down on proponents of separatist movements for “the independence of Tibet” and for the creation of “East Turkistan”;

  • safeguard national sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity e the security;

  • safeguard China's maritime rights and interests;

  • safeguard China's security interests in space, in electromagnetic space and in cyberspace;

  • safeguard China's foreign interests;

  • support the country's sustainable development.

In 2017, Beijing announced its goal to transform the People's Liberation Army (PLA) into a military force of "world class" to firmly establish China among the major powers world championships. This goal is guided by the CCP's view that the China is getting closer to the "center stage of the world" and the component military represents a multifaceted goal to achieve a position of leadership.

In its new defense white paper, China's National Defense in the New Era, Beijing sees the international environment as subject to "profound changes never seen in a century" [...] "undermined by growing hegemonism, power politics, unilateralism and constant conflicts and wars regional". For China, global military competition is intensifying and the "major countries" are adapting their security and military strategies through a reorganization of armies and the development of new types of combat forces to “seize strategic heights in competition military".

The PRC's national strategy to achieve "the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation" by 2049 is deeply integrated with its ambitions to strengthen the PLA. In 2017, General Secretary Xi Jinping laid out two PLA modernization goals during his speech to the 19th Party Congress: to “basically complete” PLA modernization by 2035 and to transform the PLA into a “world class” military by 2049.

In 2020, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced a new milestone for PLA

modernization in 2027 broadly understood as the modernization of the PLA’s capabilities to

be networked into a system of systems for “intelligentized” warfare.

If realized, the PLA’s 2027 modernization goals could provide Beijing with more credible military options in a Taiwan contingency.

Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico?

Gabriele e Nicola Iuvinale

ASE 2023

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