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To Strengthen Fighting Force, China Creates 3 New Military Units

  • VOA News

New recruit People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers stand in formation during a training session in cold winter temperatures at a military base in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, China, November 29, 2015.

New recruit People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers stand in formation during a training session in cold winter temperatures at a military base in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, China, November 29, 2015.

China has created three new military units as it seeks to build a stronger, more efficient fighting force -- and at a time when it seeks to strengthen its position on maritime territory disputes.

Chinese state media announced late Friday that China will set up a new army unit to oversee its strategic missiles. It also plans an army general command to oversee its land forces and a support unit to assist combat troops.

President Xi Jinping said the new units are being created "to realize the Chinese dream of a strong military."

The announcement came a day after Beijing said it is building its second aircraft carrier, in the latest sign of Beijing's rapid modernization of its naval forces.

Aircraft carrier

It is expected to be about the same size as China's only other aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and will employ conventional power, rather than nuclear.

FILE - China's first aircraft carrier, which was renovated from an old aircraft carrier that China bought from Ukraine in 1998, is seen docked at Dalian Port, in Dalian, Liaoning province September 22, 2012.

FILE - China's first aircraft carrier, which was renovated from an old aircraft carrier that China bought from Ukraine in 1998, is seen docked at Dalian Port, in Dalian, Liaoning province September 22, 2012.

The 50,000-ton carrier will carry China's J-15 fighter jets and other aircraft. The launch date for the vessel has not been confirmed.

China is engaged in tense territorial disputes with many Asian countries, particularly in the vast South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety.

Beijing has stressed that the expansion of its navy is no threat to its neighbors. It has said the Liaoning will be used mainly for scientific research and training missions.

The Liaoning is not yet fully functional. But it has already conducted South China Sea training missions that suggest Beijing will continue to take an assertive stance on the maritime disputes.

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