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Recent PLA restructuring partially aimed at Taiwan: analyst

China unveiled Monday five new military theater commands -- the East, West, South, North and Middle theater commands -- the latest move in a high-profile military reform program.

The establishment of an army force unit in the East theater command in Fuzhou, in the eastern province of Fujian, seems to be aimed at Taiwan, a military analyst said Wednesday.

China that day completed the reorganization of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) under the five military battle zone commands, replacing the current seven military area commands headquartered in Beijing, Nanjing, Chengdu, Jinan, Shenyang, Lanzhou and Guangzhou, Hong Kong's Ta Kung Pao newspaper reported Wednesday.

The East theater command was ranked top among the five military zone commands and is headquartered in Nanjing.

Hong Kong-based military analyst Leung Kwok-Leung said that as it faces the Pacific Ocean, the PLA's East theater command will be tasked with tackling issues related to the island chains in the region and the dispute between China and Japan over control of the Diayoutai Islands in the East China Sea -- known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China.

As long as China requires the deployment of army forces in the region, the only possibility must be aimed at Taiwan, according to Leung. Before the latest restructuring of the PLA, the Xiamen-based 31st Group Army belonging to the Nanjing Military Region was believed to target Taiwan, Leung said.

The establishment of the army force unit of the East theater command in Fujian will enable the PLA to train forces based on the situation across the Taiwan Strait and fully devote itself in case of a military conflict, according to Leung.

Meanwhile, the 1st Group Army, headquartered in Huzhou, which also belongs to the Nanjing Military Region, could also be deployed in case of such a military conflict, Leung added.

The 31st Group Army has troops, fleets of helicopters, amphibious armored vehicles and landing craft, and is aimed at maintaining standard combat preparedness for landing attacks.

In addition to army forces, Leung said, should a military conflict take place in the Taiwan Strait, military ships belonging to the PLA's East Sea Fleet based in the Zhoushan Islands will also be brought in as support. (By Stanley Cheung and Evelyn Kao)

Updated : 2021-05-17 22:26 GMT+08:00