Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited the headquarters of the Marine Corps, a new force being developed by the Chinese military to back up its navy's manifold expansion with overseas logistics bases, and asked it to turn into an integrated, capable, flexible and fast-responding elite force.
Xi, who is Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) - the overall high command of the military, besides being the President and the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party, on Tuesday inspected the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Marine Corps in Chaozhou, south China's Guangdong Province, official media here reported.
In his interaction with the Marine Corps commanders, Xi asked them to concentrate on fostering their troops' combat preparedness and stay on high alert.
More realistic battle training must be carried out to enhance skills and more efforts should be made to innovate in terms of combat theories, training methods and task planning, he said.
He stressed that the Marine Corps is an elite amphibious fighting force that shoulders significant responsibilities in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as China's maritime rights and overseas interests.
This was Xi's first visit to the headquarters of the Marine Corps, which was overhauled in 2017 and became part of the PLA Navy during the military reform launched by him in 2015, state-run China Daily reported on Wednesday.
Under the reform, the PLA slashed three lakh troops from the army and focussed expansion on navy and the air force as part of China's efforts to enhance its global influence.
In 2017, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported that China plans to increase the size of its marine corps from 20,000 to one lakh personnel for overseas deployment including Gwadar port in Pakistan and military logistics base in Djibouti in the Indian Ocean.
The expansion is planned to protect China's maritime lifelines and its growing interests overseas, the report said.