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President Xi Jinping takes over as "Commander in Chief" of China's military

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BEIJING (PTI): Emerging as China's all powerful leader after 'Chairman' Mao Zedong, President Xi Jinping has further cemented his power base in the ruling Communist Party and the 2.3 million-strong military by assuming a new title of "Commander in Chief" of the revamped battle command centre.

Besides being the President, 62-year-old Xi is already General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, which manages the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the world's largest military force.

Dressed in military fatigues, Xi visited the military's Joint Operations Command Centre yesterday "where he serves as the Commander in Chief", state-run Xinhua news agency reported, adding a new military title to Xi regarded both at home and abroad as the most powerful Chinese leader after Mao assuming total control of all power centres.

Xi called on the centre to implement the military strategies under the new situation and focus on its core key functions of studying and commanding wars.

He asked officers to change their ideas, innovate and tackle difficulties, in a bid to build a joint battle command system that was "absolutely loyal, resourceful in fighting, efficient in commanding and courageous and capable of winning wars."

"The current situation requires battle command to be highly strategic, coordinated, timely, professional and accurate," Xi said, urging staff at joint battle command centers at both CMC and theatre command levels to bear in mind a sense of crisis and adapt to the strategic demands of national security.

Xi told the officers to closely follow the trends of global military revolution and strive to build a joint battle command system that meets the need of fighting and winning an informationised war.

"All must be done with the ultimate goal of improving battle command capacities and measured by the standards of being able to fight and win wars," Xi said, urging a focus on solving conflicts and problems limiting joint battle command.

Besides conducting a massive anti-corruption campaign both in the party and the military where about 40 top and senior Generals faced anti-graft proceedings, Xi also totally revamped the PLA commands.

The PLA which operates with a budget of USD 146 billion, three times higher than India was regrouped into five theatre commands, including the Eastern Theatre Command, Southern Theatre Command, Western Theatre Command, Northern Theatre Command and Central Theatre Command.

Xi elevated the status of its strategic nuclear missile forces to be placed along with army, navy and airforce and formed a new Strategic Support Force to provide proper electronic and cyber intelligence backup for precision missiles strikes during war.

Experts say Xi's appearance in military fatigues may also be a display of strength aimed at China's rivals.

China's foreign policy has become increasingly assertive in recent years, especially on its claims to disputed territories in the resource-rich and strategic South China Sea.

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