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20 Apr, 2024 12:36

Xi Jinping announces major military overhaul

The new Army Information Support Force will contribute to “competitiveness in modern warfare,” the Chinese leader has said
Xi Jinping announces major military overhaul

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has announced a major revamp of the military, creating a new Army Information Support Force which will be responsible for dealing with hybrid warfare.

The announcement was made at a ceremony in Beijing on Friday. Xi stated that China must prioritize the development of its military in the modern era, as well as enhancing its capabilities through reform, science, and new talent.

The Chinese leader described the newly created wing of the army as a ‘strategic force’ that will provide indispensable support for coordinating and using information system networks. “It will play a crucial role in advancing the Chinese military’s high-quality development and competitiveness in modern warfare,” he said, according to the Chinese government’s website.

General Bi Yi was appointed commander of the new military branch, with General Li Wei appointed as political commissar. In the People’s Liberation Army, commissars serve as second-in-command and are largely responsible for administrative tasks and political education.

Xi also noted that it is important to “adhere to information-led and joint victory, smooth information links, integrated information resources,” as well as strengthening information protection.

Meanwhile, Beijing dissolved its Strategic Support Force, which was created in 2015 to enhance China’s expertise in space, cyber, political, and electronic warfare, and help it fight in “informationized conflicts.”

Commenting on the reforms, Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said China now has four military services – the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Rocket Force, and four arms – the Aerospace Force, Cyberspace Force, Information Support Force, and Joint Logistics Support Force.

The military reform, which was described by Bloomberg as the largest since 2015, follows the dismissal of nine senior military officers from parliament in December, including four who had served in the Rocket Force.

This also comes after former defense chief Li Shangfu was sacked in October. Beijing offered no explanation for these reshuffles, but Western media reports indicated that Li was under investigation for alleged corruption.

China has consistently taken steps to bolster its military capabilities amid its rivalry with the US, which has only intensified in recent years due to the stand-off over Taiwan. While China considers the self-governed island to be part of its sovereign territory, Washington has approved sales of military equipment to Taipei, with President Joe Biden pledging to defend it in case of an incursion by Beijing.

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