China Sets up 15 New Armed Units

China’s military has set up 15 new units – as part of an on-going drive to modernise the world’s largest armed forces.

President Xi Jinping‘s push to reform the military coincides with China becoming more assertive in its territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas.

China’s navy is investing in submarines and aircraft carriers and its air force is developing stealth fighters.

Late last year Xi inaugurated a general command unit for the army, a missile force and a strategic support force for People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and the 15 new units follow on from that decision.

The new units would help the military function better and consolidate the Communist Party’s control.

One of the 15 new departments is a dedicated auditing office, which will “organise and guide audits and supervision for the entire military” and strive to be independent.

China has been moving rapidly to upgrade its military hardware, but integration of complex systems across a regionalised command structure has been a major challenge, something the reforms aim to address.

The armed forces are also losing 300,000 members, following a surprise announcement by Xi in September.

The troop cuts and broader reform programme have proven controversial, and the military’s official newspaper has published a series of commentaries warning of opposition to the reforms and concern about job losses.