The new Central Military Commission is expected to focus on rapidly modernising the People's Liberation Army following sweeping changes at the top. The strengthening of the PLA will also play a strategic role in keeping cross-strait military tensions with Taiwan in check. Outgoing president Jiang Zemin, 76, was re-elected as chairman of the Central Military Commission yesterday even after he relinquished his top party post to Hu Jintao, 59. Mr Jiang might stay on until the National People's Congress next March or much longer. His predecessor, Deng Xiaoping, remained Central Military Commission chairman for two years after leaving the party's Politburo Standing Committee in 1987. Mr Hu was re-appointed as vice-chairman of the commission. The other two vice-chairmen are General Guo Boxiong, 59, and General Cao Gangchuan, 66. Neither Mr Jiang nor Mr Hu served in the military. General Guo, executive vice-chief of general staff and a noted military strategist, has emerged as the most senior man in uniform. He will run the day-to-day operations of the commission. Both General Guo and General Cao were promoted to their current rank by Mr Jiang when he was party general secretary. General Guo was a trusted aide of the chief of General Staff Headquarters, General Fu Quanyou, an outgoing Central Military Commission member. General Cao, the director of the General Armament Department, is expected to be promoted to defence minister next March at the National People's Congress, replacing Chi Haotian. The anticipated promotion of General Cao into the minister's position suggests that the PLA will step up its modernisation efforts. Although China fields the largest army in the world, most of its equipment is antiquated and much of its technology dates back to the 1960s. Beijing has invested heavily in recent years to buy advanced ships, submarines and aircraft from Russia. Efforts have also been made to improve the PLA's use of information technology. But China analysts said Beijing's armament build-up was based more on strategic manoeuvring than the likelihood of war with Taiwan or the US. The other four commission members are Xu Caihou, 59, a rising military officer who is now the deputy chief political commissar of the PLA; Liang Guanglie, 61, commander and party secretary of the Nanjing Military Region; Liao Xilong, 62, commander and deputy secretary of Chengdu military region; and Li Jinai, 59, political commissar and deputy secretary of the PLA General Armament Department. The members of the newly elected commission are not considered to be hawkish in comparison to the men they replaced. The outgoing vice-chairman of the commission, Zhang Wannian, was a vocal supporter of taking a hard line towards Taiwan's pro-independence moves. The Chinese military has justified double-digit percentage increases in annual defence spending by saying that the amount was still small when compared to what the US, Japan and even Taiwan spend on their respective militaries. Neighbouring Asian countries have expressed concern about China's military build-up.