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China's military overhaul may affect command in charge of Korean Peninsula

A major overhaul of China's armed forces appears to have affected one of seven regionalized commands in charge of the Korean Peninsula, according to Chinese and Hong Kong media reports on Saturday.

The Chinese Shenyang Military Area Command, which is close to North Korea, is one of the seven battle-zone commands and believed to be tasked with coping with contingency plans on the Korean Peninsula.

Citing a "source familiar with the matter," Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Thursday that the seven regionalized commands will be replaced by five new commands -- North, South, East, West and Central.

The move is "to modernize and increase the efficiency and combat readiness of the People's Liberation Army," the report said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping "has ordered the new military zones to be operational by January 1," the report said, adding that Xi has chosen four out of the five commanders.

Some Chinese media reports have suggested that the Shenyang Military Area Command might have been replaced by the new command in charge of China's northeastern region.

Xi inaugurated three new military units, including a missile force, on Thursday, according to China's state-run media report.

Earlier this week, China's defense ministry confirmed that it is building a second aircraft carrier amid Beijing's increasingly assertive actions in the South China Sea.

China is rapidly building up its naval hardware at a time when tensions mount over its land reclamation works in the South China Sea.

China claims sovereignty over nearly 90 percent of the South China Sea, worsening relations with neighbors such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. Beijing is also in a bitter dispute with Tokyo over islets in the East China Sea. (Yonhap)

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