China Today > Homepage > News > 

Minister Talk: Defense Minister on PLA in transformation

2009-10-10 12:39 BJT

Watch Video

Play Video

The People's Liberation Army has undergone tremendous changes during the past 60 years. It has transformed from a revolutionary army, to a national defense force. It has also shifted its focus from man-power to technology and broadened its scope to meet the needs of national diplomacy. In today's "Minister Talk" series, we spoke to China's Defense Minister, Liang Guanglie.

In 1949, China's national defense did not have the ability to build its own weapons.

It took generations of scientists and engineers to design and develop the country's own arsenals.

In 1958, Liang Guanglie joined the PLA as an ordinary soldier. He said he witnessed most of the defense force's modernization.

China's Defense Minister, Liang Guanglie, said, "There has been an historic leap in the PLA's weaponry. When I joined the army, we used a rifle imported from the Soviet Union. You had to reload after each shot. The canon we deployed also required calculating distances manually. Now the weapons can launch precise strikes hundreds of kilometers away. In the past, warfare often relied on the commander's judgement and experience. Military officers must now understand modern warfare using computers and information driven technology."

Defense forces often drive economic and social development during times of peace. Since the 1950s, the PLA has sent more than 1 million troops to help some of China's largest construction projects. They have also led rescue efforts during natural disasters, including the massive floods of 1998 and the Wenchuan earthquake last year.