Bolstering his status as China’s most powerful leader in decades, Chinese President Xi Jinping has assumed a more direct role as head of the country’s powerful armed forces with the new title of commander in chief of its Joint Operations Command Center, state media and analysts said on Thursday.
Xi’s new position was revealed in news reports that featured prominently on national news broadcasts Wednesday and Thursday in which he appeared publicly for the first time in camouflage battle dress wearing the joint center’s insignia.
During his Wednesday visit, Xi called on the center’s staff 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 informationized war,” the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Officers should “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,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.
Battle command capacities should be measured by “the standards of being able to fight and win wars,” Xi said, stressing the need to prepare for conflicts, analyse possible security risks, and handle effectively “all sorts of emergencies.”
The joint center, reportedly located underground in the western outskirts of Beijing, is under the direct supervision of the ruling Communist Party’s Central Military Commission, which is headed by Xi and oversees the 2.3-million-member People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest standing armed forces.
Xi was accompanied on his visit by the commission’s two vice chairmen, Gen. Fan Changlong and Gen. Xu Qiliang.
Among his several other titles, Xi is also leader of the ruling Communist Party and chair of a recently created National Security Council, which gives him greater control over the domestic security services.