Southern Theater Command
Chinese President Xi Jinping inspected the Southern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) on 21 april 2017 and stressed building a strong army. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), urged all military personnel to resolutely safeguard the authority of CPC Central Committee and unswervingly follow the Party's leadership. He asked all military personnel to greet the 19th CPC National Congress scheduled for later this year with outstanding achievements.
Noting that 2017 is of great significance for the Party and the country, Xi urged the PLA to strengthen ideological building, combat preparation and reform implementation. Xi urged PLA officers to eliminate the impact of Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, two corrupt former CMC vice chairmen, and strictly observe political discipline and rules. "It must be ensured that the PLA resolutely follows the command of the CPC Central Committee and the CMC at any time, in any circumstances," Xi said.
A campaign, which focuses on the study of the Party Constitution and rules, as well as the speeches by Xi, and calls for being qualified Party members, is required to be further launched in the army. He vowed to fight corruption and enhance the "sense of gain" among officers and soldiers.
Xi asked military personnel to strengthen their awareness in preparing for war, closely follow changes of situations and make unremitting efforts to enhance combat capabilities. Xi required an accelerated building of the theater joint combat command system, vigorous development of a new-type fighting force and simultaneous improvement of national defense strength and economic development. He asked for stronger military management, while caring for and loving officers and soldiers and ensuring the stability of troops.
The five theater commands, which are identified by their strategic locations in east, south, west, north and central China, base their army headquarters in Fuzhou, Fujian Province; Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; Lanzhou, Gansu Province; Jinan, Shandong Province and Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, respectively. The five replaced the former seven military area commands in Beijing, Nanjing, Chengdu, Ji'nan, Shenyang, Lanzhou and Guangzhou as of early 2016. Infrastructure, including communication facilities in the previous seven military area commands, has been taken into consideration for the locations of the headquarters, so that follow-up work on military reform could start as soon as possible.
China's Ministry of National Defense (MND) held a special press conference in Beijing on February 1, 2016, at which the Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun answered journalists' questions about the adjustment and establishment of the theater commands. The new system separates the combat and construction or logistic missions. The theater commands will focus on engagement, while the PLA army, navy and air force will focus on developing their respective forces, said the source. All five commands are expected to have their own army and air force, while naval forces are not likely to be deployed by all five commands. There's no need to build a temporary command system when war erupts, as the joint operations of each theater command will suffice, which is also helpful for troops to successfully fulfill their training and mission, said the source. The five commands will only deploy their own force against security threats, and they need to report to the CMC for additional support.
The Army's subordinate organs within the five theater commands are built on the basis of certain functions and institutions of the former MACs, the Navy's subordinate organs within the five theater commands are built on the basis of relevant naval fleets, and the Air Force's subordinate organs within five theater commands are built on the basis of the air force of former MACs. To date, the adjustment and establishment of the services' organs within five theater commands has been completed.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command on 22 December 2020 warned away a US warship that "trespassed" the South China Sea, leading Chinese analysts to say the PLA had again demonstrated its control over the region and ability to safeguard national sovereignty and security. US destroyer USS John S. McCain entered into waters near China's Nansha Islands without the authorization of the Chinese government, and the PLA Southern Theater Command organized naval and aerial forces, and warned and "expelled" it, said Senior Colonel Tian Junli, a spokesperson at the PLA Southern Theater Command, in a statement.
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