China is to demobilise 200,000 of its armed forces by 2005 in the latest round of reductions ordered by the government. The announcement was made by Jiang Zemin, the former president of China whose only remaining government position is chairman of the Central Military Commission. The troop reduction is designed to help China concentrate its limited strategic reserves and enable the armed forces to accelerate the pace of building its information technology capability.
The cut follows one of 500,000 made in the late 1990s but is less than the previously announced target of another 500,000 by 2005. Western diplomats said the reduced scale of the cuts might reflect the political and financial difficulties of demobilising so many soldiers over such a short period.