Chinese President Xi Jinping has initiated a restructuring of the People’s Liberation Army to form a core condensed structure of 84 units and to increase joint operations capabilities, Xinhua reported on Wednesday. Xi, who is also the commander-in-chief, has also prioritised cyberspace, electronic and information warfare.

“This has profound and significant meaning in building a world-class military,” Xi told commanders of the new units at the PLA headquarters in Beijing. The changes include joint operational command structure by 2020 and restructuring existing military regions and streamlining troops, Reuters reported.

The former seven military area commands were reclassified into five, while the four military departments – staff, politics, logistics and armaments – were reorganised into 15 agencies last year. The 84 units will be under the purview of the 15 agencies.

Observers said the United States’ modernisation of its military capabilities has triggered China’s actions. The development will also help Beijing increase its sovereignty in the resource-rich South China Sea, where it has claimed almost 90% of the territory.