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The issue at point? The issue is the lack of Marketing and down-playing our own capabilities by Beijing in order to avoid the so-called China Threat perceptions towards outsiders. Without proper PR even our own people believe we are a weak country who therefore need a "stronger" military power. Without proper PR about our own Nuclear Deterrence capabilities, even these aggressive Imperialists would publicly and openly discussing "successful" first-strike strategies on China.
Nobody in Beijing would ever forget that the sole reason for us to be able to concentrate on economic development is because no sane soul dare to attack us. And therefore, ever since the reforms and opening-up started, it has always been the PLA that benefited most from the developments. But even a growing military power should go step by step.
The First Gulf War has shown us that numbers did not matter at all anymore, technology is the future. Therefore, PLA manpower has been downsized for the sake of faster technological advancements. After all, resources is no where unlimited, but count on that we can easily add a few millions up to tens and hundreds patriots [depending on how much we need] in time of real war. With our manufacturing capabilities these hardware output can easily catch up. So people should not worry about the size of our army at the current moment.
But now our technological gap with the biggest Imperialist Threat to mankind and China is narrowing down so rapidly, and basically has come up with more creative counter-tech for each single area of threat. Our next playing field should be able to develop the capabilities of defending our interests abroad, no matter how far away. This will include defending our allies in time of need. Then you will see that NUMBERS will matter again soon.
Anyhow, for now, we should really not shy away of adequately and effectively PR our real military power, or even make it stronger than it might be, that is always the best deterrence against these aggressive greedy Imperialist from the West [some of you go ahead blablabla away the generalization of "West", fact is that it is the West that has been causing all the wars and sufferings]. People WILL KNOCK on our doors ANYHOW for business regardless of how many "China Threat" fear & warmongers cry and yell about our military power. Some knowingly that China can defend their interests will even switch side all together, instead of only half-heartedly and quietly. By then, we will see an even faster development of our economical and military strength.