Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday called on the country's Air Force to step up efforts to become a world-class fighting unit.
Xi, 66, made the comments on the occasion of 70th anniversary of People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) on Friday.
The Chinese president, who is the general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and head of the country's two million-strong military, is pushing for rapid military modernisation as part of China's efforts to expand its global influence.
Greeting the PLAAF, Xi said that under the strong leadership of the CPC, the air force has made widely recognised achievements in its development over the past 70 years and accomplished immortal feats in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, proving itself to be a force that the party and people could rely on.
Standing at a new historical starting point, the air force should implement the party's thinking on strengthening the military and the military strategy for the new era, stay true to the founding mission, pass on the fine traditions and break new ground to fully build a world-class air force, Xi was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
China's recent official white paper on defence said there is still a wide gap between the country's defence expenditure and the requirements for safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests.
In step with national economic development, defence expenditure of China will maintain a moderate and steady growth, it said.
PLAAF has over 2700 planes, including over 2000 fighter aircraft, according to a recent report by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
A Pentagon report said Chinese Airforce is the largest in Asia, third largest in the world.
PLAAF has operationalised its J-20 stealth bomber, the first in the region.
Also, China together with Pakistan produces JF-17 a single-engine multi-role light fighter aircraft which is the mainstay of Pakistan Airforce.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the leading international defence think tank, China is the second-largest defence spender in the world, increased its military expenditure by 5 per cent to USD 250 billion in 2018 against India's USD 66.5 billion.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)