In November 2015 Chinese President Xi Jinping announced sweeping changes in the Chinese military, foreshadowed in his earlier speech at the September celebration of the victory over Japan 70 years earlier. At present, the Chinese navy and air force are parts of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA); thus the navy is the PLAN, the navy of the PLA. In the future described by President Xi, the navy and the air force are to become independent services, all three services coming under a new joint command.
The 1.4 million–man army is to be cut by about 300,000; many commentators see the cut as a way of paying for naval and air modernization. Some have linked military reform to Xi’s demonstrated willingness to attack senior military officers for alleged corruption. In recent years, the army has undergone another less publicized change: In the past, army units were associated with particular areas of China on a permanent basis. A few years ago, the government began to shift units from region to region.