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Focus on Security, Sovereignty, Space and Sea: Xi Pushes For Urgent PLA Reforms

As Lawmakers at the Two Sessions pledged stricter security laws, President Xi Jinping asked the PLA to 'comprehensively improve strategic capabilities.' for joint operations.
Xi Jinping at plenary meeting of PLA at the Second Session 14th National People's Congress
China's President Xi Jinping at the plenary meeting of the PLA and Armed Police Force delegation at the 14th National People's Congress in Beijing Thursday

China’s lawmakers on Friday vowed to “resolutely safeguard” national sovereignty through legislation which would modernize “China’s framework and capability for national security.”
Legislators at the ongoing Two Sessions, or annual parliamentary meetings which set policies and budgets for the economy, diplomacy, trade and defence, said they would strengthen legislation in areas “involving foreign affairs and develop a system of laws for extraterritorial application.”
Addressing delegates on Friday, Zhao Leji, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and the third-ranking member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, said apart from an emergency management law, an energy law, an atomic energy law, and a hazardous chemicals safety law,” Beijing also plans to revise existing legislation like the National Defense Education Law and the Cybersecurity Law.
After enacting a counter-espionage law that rattled foreign investors last year, China included ‘work secrets’ in its state secrets law earlier this year.
On Thursday, China’s President Xi Jinping had asked the People’s Liberation Army to “comprehensively improve strategic capabilities in emerging areas” like space, cybersecurity defences and artificial intelligence applications. “The preparation for the military struggle at sea, the defence of maritime rights and interests and the development of the maritime economy must be integrated,” he told a military delegation to the Two Sessions.
South China Morning Post quoted China’s national broadcaster CCTV as saying that six representatives from the military briefed Xi on issues like ‘raising maritime situational awareness, integrating management and use of space resources, and applications of unmanned combat forces, among others’ Two of the representatives were from the Strategic Support Force, founded by Xi in 2016 to integrate the PLA’s strategic functions.
The PLA should “boldly innovate and explore new types of combat force models, and fully liberate and develop new quality combat powers,” Xi told the deputies. “You must take on the mission, spearhead reform and innovation, and improve our strategic capabilities in emerging fields in a comprehensive manner.”
Analysts believe Hu Xi’s specific reference to a “maritime military struggle” indicate his focus on maritime issues, including the growing friction in the South and East China Seas and the Indo-Pacific. This involves an integrated strategy for joint operations across services and domains like space, cyber, and electronic warfare.

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