Xi Jinping overhauls China’s military to enable Beijing to ‘fight and win’ future wars

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun15,2024

China has implemented the biggest restructuring of its military in more than eight years, giving Xi Jinping even more direct control over the country’s armed forces, according to analysts.

It comes after Chinese president Xi Jinping effectively axed the Strategic Support Force (SSF), a military branch he established in 2015 combining information, cyber and space warfare departments, transferring space and cyber to a new command structure.

He inaugurated the Information Support Force in its place, a department which he said was “a brand-new strategic arm of the PLA and a key underpinning of coordinated development and application of the network information system.”

It will be under the direct command of the Central Military Commission, an organ of the Communist Party and the state that controls The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) – the unified organization of China‘s land, sea, and air forces.

Announcing the structural overhaul at a ceremony, Xi said the new force would play an important role in helping the country’s military “fight and win in modern warfare.”

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The same day, China’s Defence Ministry appeared to suggest the SSF had been split into three separate units: the Information Support Force, as well as the Aerospace Force and the Cyberspace Force – with the latter two appearing to be existing SSF departments renamed by the government, the Financial Times reports.

According to ministry spokesperson Wu Qian, the PLA now consists of four services – the army, navy, air force, and rocket force, as well as four arms: the three units under the SSF and the Joint Logistic Support Force, as per CNN.

Joe McReynolds, China security fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, told the FT: “When the SSF was created, they rearranged existing capabilities under a new command structure.

“We guessed at the time that might be transitional, and that has now come to pass.”

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But experts on the Chinese military said Beijing has rethought the structure due to an incident last year in which one of the country’s surveillance balloons was downed by the United States, as well as corruption probes into military leaders and a failure to achieve effective collaboration across the various divisions under the SSF.

It follows experimentations with smaller reorganisations by the military in recent years, suggesting the reforms introduced in 2015 were not complete.

“The relative success of the functions they moved under the CMC has convinced them that they will have the control they want,” McReynolds said.

He added that the Chinese government was focused on removing layers of command and giving top leaders the ability to speak directly to tactical forces in wartime, should it be neccessary.

Joel Wuthnow, a senior research fellow at the Pentagon-funded National Defense University, said it’s likely the newly formed Information Support Force will take charge of communications and network defense for the PLA.

“Getting these things right is of huge importance for the PLA in any future conflict, and they have been paying close attention to these functions and probably drawing lessons for their own organization from the war in Ukraine,” he told CNN, in reference to Russia’s invasion of its neighbor.

“So it makes sense that the [Central Military Commission] chairman would want to play a more direct role in that area.”

It comes amid on-going tensions between Washington and Beijing over a long feared invasion of Taiwan by China.

The Chinese state regards Taiwan as part of its territory, and despite repeated warnings from the US and other allies, and has vowed to take control of the territory.

James Char, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told the outlet that if a conflict over Taiwan were to break out, the Information Support Force “would likely take over as the tip of the spear in supporting the PLA’s attempts to dominate the information space before Beijing’s adversaries can do so.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Xi Jinping overhauls China’s military to enable Beijing to ‘fight and win’ future wars”
  1. Xi Jinping’s decision to overhaul China’s military demonstrates his commitment to modernizing the country’s armed forces for future conflicts. The creation of the Information Support Force underlines the importance of adapting to new warfare strategies and technologies to ensure China’s ability to fight and win in modern battles.

  2. Do you think this restructuring of China’s military will significantly enhance their capabilities in future conflicts?

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