Gwadar Port (Photo : Getty Images)
The government will increase the Chinese marine corps deployment in Gwadar and in Djibouti in the Indian Ocean. China has built an economic port in Gwadar, Pakistan, and has a military logistics base in Djibouti.
The expansion is to defend Chinese maritime lifelines and the country’s growing interest overseas. The increase is set from 20,000 to one lakh.
According to Chinese military insiders and experts, some marine corps will be stationed at ports operated by China in Djibouti and Gwadar in southwest Pakistan.
Gwadar port is a deep-sea port alongside the Strait of Hormuz, the key oil route in and out of the Persian Gulf. The port was built using Chinese funds and is operated by Chinese firms.
Based on reports, navy ships will dock at the port’s facility in the near future. The port does not shelter any People’s Liberation Army (PLA) installation as of today.
The $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is also connected by Gwadar port through PoK with China's Xinjiang.
Pakistan is putting up Special Security Division with 15,000 troops, including 9,000 Pakistan Army soldiers and 6,000 para-military forces personnel to defend CPEC and Chinese personnel, according to Pakistani reports.
The expansion of Chinese marine corps is a part of the drive to refocus the PLA from winning a land war solely based on numbers. It also aims to meet a variety of security scenarios using highly specialized units.
Based on reports, Chinese President Xi Jinping is trimming down the size of the PLA by three lakh, with almost all of the reductions coming from the land forces.
Two brigades of special combat soldiers had already been transferred to the marines. This has caused the marines to nearly double its size to 20,000 and more brigades would be added.
"The PLA marines will be increased to 100,000, consisting of six brigades in the coming future to fulfill new missions of our country," quoted by the report.
A growth of 15 percent from the navy’s current estimated size of 2.35 lakh personnel is also expected.
Chinese defense spending is also planned to increase by around 7 percent to $152 billion. A large portion of the budget was allocated to the navy as the country plans to increase its presence far from its shores.
With their limited numbers and basic equipment, marines have traditionally had its operations only in Chinese coastal areas, said Li Jei, a Beijing-based naval expert.
Now, with the expansion of Chinese marine corps in Gwadar, the navy can stand up to challenges ahead.