China building 100,000-strong Marine Corps

061117-M-9827H-045 Zhanjiang, PeopleÕs Republic of China (Nov. 17, 2006) - Marines and PeopleÕs Liberation Army (Navy) (PLA(N)) 1st Marine Brigade Marines shake hands at the start of ÒMarine DayÓ 1st Marine BrigadeÕs obstacle course. The day was full of integrated events to boost troop morale and camaraderie. The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Juneau (LPD 10) on a scheduled port visit to build relations with their Chinese counterparts. The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit is the first U.S. Marine Corps unit to visit Zhanjiang since December 1949. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy J. Harper (RELEASED)

The Chinese military is about to bolster its Marine Corps to 100,000 personnel, a five-time increase from its current level of 20,000 troops.

The Chinese Defense Ministry sees a need to bolster its amphibious forces in order to protect its island claims in the South China Sea and elsewhere around the world, according to Chinese media.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is commander-in-chief of all armed forces, said the People’s Liberation Army and other branches will be trimmed by 300,000 personnel, to more than offset the increase in the Corps. Most of the cuts will come from ground forces.

“China is a maritime country and as we defend our maritime rights and develop our interests, the ­status of the navy will be more ­important,” Liu Xiaojiang, former navy political commissar, said.

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