President Xi Jinping announced a major overhaul of China’s military to make the world’s largest army more combat ready and better equipped to project force beyond the country’s borders.
Under the reorganization, all branches of the armed forces would come under a joint military command, Xi told a meeting of military officials in Beijing Thursday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Bloomberg in September reported details of the plan, which may also seek to consolidate the country’s seven military regions to as few as four.
The plan also seeks to tighten the Communist Party’s grip over the 2.3-million-member military, with Xi insisting the People’s Liberation Army maintain “correct political direction” and stressing “the Communist Party of China has absolute leadership of the armed forces,” Xinhua reported.
Under Xi, China has been more assertive over territorial claims in the East China Sea and South China Sea, raising tensions with neighbors such as Japan and the Philippines, as well as the U.S. Xi’s policy marks a shift from China’s previous approach of keeping a low profile and not attracting attention on the world stage, a philosophy laid out by former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.