Chinese President Xi Jinping has been adorned with the new title of “commander in chief” of the country’s Joint Operations Command Center, and with it has assumed a more prominent role in directing the Chinese military, state-run media reported Thursday.
Xi was seen in news reports Wednesday and Thursday wearing camouflage battle dress bearing the center’s insignia for the first time publicly.
As well as being president, Xi is already the Central Military Commission chairman, which gives him authority over the 2.3-million-member People’s Liberation Army, the largest standing army in the world. He is also general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and chair of the recently created National Security Council.
Xi has already created a more assertive Chinese foreign policy since he took office in 2012. He has overseen the rapid building of artificial islands in the South China Sea and dispatched ships into Japanese-controlled waters, which many have seen as signs of aggression.
The state-run Xinhua news service reported Xi visited the command center Wednesday, where he called on the 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.”
Xi was accompanied by the commission’s two vice chairmen, Gen. Fan Changlong and Gen. Xu Qiliang. The center is reportedly located underground in the western outskirts of Beijing.