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.

Why it’s on our radar: Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 2: What are the latest indicators of a U.S.-China conflict?  Each week in our Strategic Intelligence Summary, we gauge the likelihood and scope of conflict with Russia, China, North Korea, and in the Middle East, and track the latest developments in each region.  Subscribe here to receive our premium intelligence products prepared by Intelligence and special operations veterans.