BEIJING, Jan. 4 (UPI) — The Chinese government has announced new reforms to its military in an effort to improve the combat readiness of the People’s Liberation Army.
The reforms, announced by China’s Central Military Commission, include the establishment of three new military institutions under the People’s Liberation Army, including strategic support troops, the rocket force, and an army leadership institution, according to CCTV America.
“The establishment of the army leadership institution, the rocket troops, and the strategic support troops is important,” China President Xi Jingping said in a statement. “This will definitely be a crucial milestone in modernizing China’s military and be enshrined in people’s military history.”
President Xi also serves as the Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Defense said at a press conference one of the planned institutions, the Rocket Force, will develop and operate missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. However, the spokesperson maintains the country’s nuclear capabilities will be kept a the minimum required for its national security interests.
The Rocket Force is an upgraded version of China’s Second Artillery Force, which operates both conventional and strategic missile weapons.
The announcement comes roughly a week after the Chinese government unveiled its plans to construct a second aircraft carrier for Chinese naval forces.
Chinese military expansion has come under scrutiny from the United States and other countries, as the military continues to push its presence into the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes.