China Launches Major Military Overhaul Amid U.S. Tensions

Chinese President Xi Jinping has unveiled the most significant changes to his nation’s military in over 60 years, laying out plans to boost combat readiness and make the world’s largest army better equipped to radiate force beyond the country’s borders, according to state-backed news media.


The president’s announcement of the biggest military overhaul since the 1950s comes amid tensions between the United States and the Asian powerhouse over the latter’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.


Xi told a meeting of more than 200 senior military officers that the landmark military reforms would prompt all branches of the armed forces to come under a joint military command, similar to the system in the United States, reports the state-run Xinhua News Agency.


In September, Bloomberg highlighted details of the plan, which may also attempt to reduce China’s seven military regions to as few as four.


“Under the leadership of the party, the army has gone from small to large, from weak to strong and from victory to victory,” Xi told the military leaders, according to Xinhua. “The reason why the military has stayed vigorous is that it has kept pace with the times and never ceased reforming itself. Now, as the country progresses from a large country to a large and powerful one, defense and military development stands at a new and historic starting line.”


Bloomberg reports that the reorganization plan also aims to consolidate the Communist Party’s grip over the 2.3-million-member military, adding that Xi insisted that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) maintain “correct political direction” and stressed “the Communist Party of China has absolute leadership of the armed forces,” notes Xinhua.


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