Foreign Affairs Scope: China continues risky military overhaul

Nathan Smith discusses the latest news in foreign affairs on NBR Radio and on demand on MyNBR Radio.
The UN-backed proposal for a unity government in Libya was rejected this week by the Tobruk parliament. Based in the east of the country, the parliament remains at odds with a rival government in Tripoli.
However, elements of the Islamic State have gained a foothold in the centre of Libya, attracting the potential for a foreign military intervention in the coming months. Should an intervention be organised, some sort of unity between the militias will be necessary.
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping continues with his risky overhaul of the People’s Liberation Army. The reforms reflect more attempts by Mr Xi to consolidate control over both the government and the military in what some suspect is a dictatorial direction.
Up to 300,000 troops may be disbanded while various military forces are streamlined in a “joint” concept. These reforms are in line with other modern military forces. For the Communist Party’s survival, it needs the army to be loyal. These reforms will be a crucial test of that loyalty.
In Portugal, a centre-right government returns to control of Lisbon. The election of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa replaces a leftist party which managed to make many enemies with its poorly planned financial and banking reforms in the short two months it was in power.
However, despite the new government’s wide popularity, it faces immediately an unstable parliament and upcoming legislative elections. A dissolution of the parliament is likely before April. Mr de Sousa will also need to strike a new agreement with Brussels for extra financial assistance.