China is set to expand its number of marine corps to deploy them overseas at Gwadar port in Pakistan and at a military logistics base in Djibouti in the Indian Ocean, reported the South China Morning Post on Monday. Beijing plans to increase its number of marine corps from 20,000 to one lakh to protect its growing interests overseas.
China’s naval expert Li Jie told the daily that traditionally, marines have operated only on coastal areas as they were small in numbers and only had basic equipment. The move to expand the marine corps is to focus on meeting various security possibilities “using highly specialised units”, reported SCMP. China’s President Xi Jinping has already reduced the size of the People’s Liberation Army by 300,000, nearly all from the land forces, to meet this requirement, the report added.
Two brigades of special combat soldiers have been moved to the marines doubling its number to 20,000. “The PLA marines will be increased to 100,000, consisting of six brigades in the coming future to fulfil new missions of our country,” SCMP reported quoting sources. The size of its navy will also be increased by 15% from its current size of 1.35 lakh personnel.
The Gwadar port (pictured above), next to the Strait of Hormuz, currently does not have any PLA installation. However, in the near future, navy ships are expected to dock at the facility. China is constructing a naval base in Djibouti to provide logistical support in one of the world’s busiest waterways, the report added.