Minutes of Symposium on Defense Policy and Military Transformation in a Democratic China
On July 29-30, 2022, Symposium on Defense Policy and Military Transformation in a Democratic China, organized by the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition and co-sponsored by the National Committee of the China Democracy Party, was held in Washington DC, the capital of the United States. Nearly 30 experts and scholars from the United States and China attended the symposium and shared many valuable opinions and suggestions on relevant topics. These opinions have been systematically summarized and consolidated. The basic tenets are hereby presented to those who care about democracy in China and are seeking further enrichment and improvements.
1. The future state of a democratic China shall be a presidential federal republic with a separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers. China is a large country with multiple ethnicities and great differences between regions and cultures. Neither encouraging independence of ethnic groups and regions nor implementing a centralized system will be beneficial to stability and development of the country and the society. The best choice is to adopt the model of the United States by implementing a federal system with provincial autonomy. This will maintain the unity of the country while allowing local governments to enjoy a high degree of autonomy.
2. The democratically elected president of a democratic China shall be the commander-in-chief of its armed forces. A Ministry of National Defense shall be the administrative organ and foreign liaison agency of the military. The nation’s Congress shall establish a military committee, responsible for defense legislation, budgeting and disbursement of funds, and overseeing the building of the armed forces and military operations. An airborne force shall be under direct jurisdiction and command of the General Staff of the armed forces. Military intelligence agencies shall be established under the Ministry of National Defense and the Congress.
3. The fundamental objectives of democratic China’s national defense shall be to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, to repel foreign aggressions, and to ally with other democratic countries in maintaining world peace. The armed forces of democratic China shall be politically neutral and shall subordinate to the democratically elected national government. The military shall not be allowed to participate in politics. Military personnel may not join political parties.
4. The armed forces of democratic China shall consist of a combination of active-duty and reserve-duty troops, and a combination of conscripts and professional service-persons. The existing armed police force shall be abolished. All provincial military districts, military sub-districts, and county-level departments of armed police shall be abolished. The federal government, provinces and municipalities shall each establish a national defense mobilization agency, responsible for reserve management and training and recruiting of troops, etc. A National Guard shall be established by each province from the abolished armed police force with a reduced size, which shall be responsible for actions such as anti-terrorism, disaster relief, and maintaining social order in the province in peacetime, and obey calls of mobilization from the federal government to enter into military operations in wartime.
5. Formation of the armed forces:
Four military regions, Eastern, Southern, Western, and Northern, shall be established. Land, Sea, Air, Space, and Strategic Rocket Commands shall be established.
A Special Operations Command shall be established, which shall include departments of special warfare, psychological warfare, Internet warfare, and electronic warfare, etc.
The Army shall be organized into 10 army groups, all of which will be stationed along the border. There shall be two army groups each in the Southern and Eastern regions and three army groups each in the Western and Northern regions. The Marines in the Eastern and Southern regions may share certain defense duties. Only the Special Operations Command and airborne troops may be stationed in the hinterland.
The Navy shall consist of the Northern, Eastern, and Southern Fleets and the Aviation Department. It shall have four branches of surface ships, submarines, the Marines, and aviation.
The Air Force shall maintain its current structure with brigade-strength units stationed in each military region.
The Space Force shall be incorporated into the Strategic Rocket Force.
6. Military academies (omitted)
7. Adjustments and reorganization of the People’s Liberation Army
The political organs shall be abolished with the political cadres dismissed. Psychological counselors shall be added to battalion-level units.
A military personnel management committee shall be established to implement the institutional formation of the armed forces in accordance with plans adopted by the democratic government and the Congress.
Management committees on biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons shall be established, which shall be centrally managed by an agency affiliated to the office of the president.
A military assets management committee shall be established.
A weapons and equipment management committee shall be established to centrally manage surplus weapons and equipment after the adjustments of the armed forces.
8. The armed forces of the democratic China shall be named as the National Defense Forces of China.
9. Serving the military
There shall be a combination of conscripts and volunteers with the term of the conscripts being 2 years. Upon completion of the term, based on needs of the armed forces and willingness of the individuals, conscripts may be reenlisted as professional service-persons.
10. Adoption of a military ranking system
The Minister of National Defense shall be a civilian. A military ranking system for the active-duty officers shall be implemented with a total of 10 ranks, Armed Force General, General, Lieutenant General, Major General, Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, Major, Captain, Lieutenant, and Second Lieutenant.
11. On working with the Congress to develop and implement safeguard legislation for veterans
After retiring, military personnel shall be given preferential treatment in terms of living and medical care, which shall be carried out in strict accordance with the law.
12. Size of the armed forces:
The total number of active-duty troops shall be maintained at around 1,300,000, among which 600,000 shall be in the Army; 250,000 each in the Navy and the Air Force; and around 200,000 each in the Space Strategic Rocket Force and the commands at all levels.
The aforementioned are merely a preliminary structure and some ideas, which may serve as stop-gap measures in the process of promoting democratization and during an early stage of the establishment of a democratic institution. After such establishment and upon enactments of laws related to national defense and building of the armed forces, they shall be further revised and improved by due process.