Civil-Military Integration Underway

Hou ruili   2017-08-04 23:06:54

China’s first aircraft carrier, the CNS Liaoning, arrived in Hong Kong on July 7 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland. During the five-day stationing, about 50,000 Hong Kong citizens visited the vessel. Some elderly visitors were thrilled upon seeing the J-15 fighters, the first generation of domestically made carrier-based aircraft.

The first day of August this year marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In retrospect, building this army was synchronized with the development of military technologies. At first, the PLA only had a handful of small arsenals, its first aviation school was set up as late as 1946, and troops with technological training were recruited in the late 1940s. In 1955, the PLA succeeded in making major technological breakthroughs in atom bombs and missiles. By the end of the 1950s, a national defense industrial system had been established, supported by a group of large and medium-sized arsenals of weaponry, aviation, vessels, and electronics.  

Since the beginning of the 21st century, China has made significant progress in such fields as earth-orbit transportation systems, large-scale carrier rockets, high-performance computing, early warning airplanes, and aircraft carriers. An array of high-tech and new-tech weapons have also been introduced as part of the standard equipment list.  

National cohesion is the basis for the advancement of military technologies. Regardless of a period of weak economy or in an era of reform and opening-up, China has been allocating funds to a budget for military technology and creating a pool of talent in this area. The country has now taken a leading role in some key areas. 

As science and technology continue to progress, the line between civil and military technologies has become blurred. Among key technologies listed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Department of Defense respectively, 80 percent are interconnected; and the rate reaches 70 percent in Russia. It is also estimated that, in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, and Japan, 80-90 percent of high technologies for information weapons & military equipment are developed by civil enterprises. All these manifest the arrival of the general-purpose technology era when civil and military technologies become more interdependent and stimulate each other. In this respect, China still lags behind.

As innovation is regarded as the primary driving force of the economy, China has ratcheted up the integrated and concerted development of civil and military technologies, in a bid to build up the defense industry as well as advance its social and economic development. From a historical perspective, China is by no means a nation with an aggressive nature. Building a stronger army is done in order to fight against foreign invasion and secessionist forces, participate in peacekeeping missions and disaster relief, and promote world peace.

In January this year, China established the Central Commission on Civil and Military Integration and Development, marking the entry of civil-military integration into its implementation stage. It is expected to create a market of more than RMB 1 trillion by applying military technologies in civil fields, such as commercial aerospace and general aviation, and soliciting private investment for the R&D of the defense industry. News from a high-level symposium in late June on the civil application of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System said that the original military navigation system will be used in the smart transportation field. On the other hand, private enterprises are encouraged to enter some key military tech areas including informationization, high-end equipment, and new materials. In Mianyang City, Sichuan Province, for example, as many as 10 industrial parks focusing on civil-military integration are underway; the number of enterprises in this sector will surpass 290 at the end of this year, with the output value increasing by 11 percent.

China is marching on in the direction of forming a prosperous society and building a stronger national defense.

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