China Amends National Defense Law to Clarify PLA’s Defensive Nature Amid Souring US Relations

An updated version of China’s National Defense Law was recently adopted and will enter effect on January 1, 2021, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced on Tuesday. The law reiterates the defensive nature of the Chinese military and elaborates on the roles of civilians in a national crisis.

According to a news release by the PLA’s China Military Online, a total of 54 articles were revised, six were added and three deleted, and the titles of two chapters were changed. 

The changes cover seven main aspects, including affirming Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as the PLA’s guiding thought; further defining of the defense duties of different bodies in the Chinese state; the tasks and goals for the construction of the Chinese armed forces; the importance of national interests to defense policy; the enhancement of “systems of national defense education and mobilization”; the respected position of PLA personnel in Chinese society; and the policies and systems concerning relations with foreign militaries.

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and commentator, wrote in the Global Times on Monday that military reforms over the last decade and “profound changes” in the geopolitical situation mandate that the law be updated.

“This amendment has drawn global attention, as China’s military development and strategies always arouse Western interest, particularly their media outlets,” Song added. “China always…

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