- Associated Press - Friday, January 1, 2016

BEIJING (AP) - China has created three new military bodies as part of reforms to modernize its military and improve its fighting capacity.

State television showed Saturday President Xi Jinping giving military flags to the leaders of the three new units - a general command for the People’s Liberation Army, a missile force and a strategic support force. Xi and PLA officers and soldiers sang the national anthem at the inauguration ceremony Thursday.

Xi said the three new units had been created as part of a modernization reform and “to realize the Chinese dream of a strong military.”

China’s military is currently 2.3 million strong but there are plans to cut it by 300,000.

Xi has promulgated the idea of a “Chinese dream” involving “the great renewal of the Chinese nation” and sees a strong military as key to this.

The military reform comes as China has become more assertive in pressing its claims to territory in the East China Sea and South China Sea, increasing tensions with its neighbors.

Other reform plans include phasing out old equipment, developing new weapons systems and reducing troop numbers.

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