China announced guidelines for reforming the People’s Liberation Army as top brass wrapped up a three-day meeting in Beijing on Thursday. President Xi Jinping vowed a “breakthrough” in the overhaul by 2020, according to a statement from the Central Military Commission, which Xi chairs, on the website of the PLA Daily . The overhaul is aimed at moving away from an army-centric system towards a Western-style joint command in which the army, navy and air force are equally represented. The commission statement highlighted the general direction of the overhaul, including plans to reorganise the four headquarters – General Staff, General Political, General Logistics and General Armaments – and to consolidate the seven military command regions. A disciplinary commission would be created within the CMC to tackle corruption, the statement said, adding that inspectors would be sent to every level of the military to ensure strict discipline. Key areas of the long-anticipated military reform include: Reorganising the military headquarters Rezoning the seven military commands Setting up new strategic zones and joint operation command systems Strengthening the Central Military Commission command structure Imposing strict discipline on the army Pushing for more innovation Reforming personnel management system Pushing for integration between the building of national defence and economic development INFOGRAPHIC: How China will rebuild its People’s Liberation Army The South China Morning Post reported in September that an overhaul of the PLA would phase out its Soviet-style command structures in favour of a US-style model. The seven military command regions are likely to be consolidated into four to help transform the world’s biggest army into a nimble, modern force. Xi said on September 3 the PLA would shed 300,000 troops, leaving it with two million personnel. The Post reported that month that 170,000 officials would be among the cuts. There have been signs of resistance within the military, with some senior officials warning in military newspapers the overhaul could destabilise the armed services and society. Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said the guidelines indicated Xi’s determination to use the overhaul to achieve his political aims. “Xi has kicked off the overhaul at the right time as he had spent more than two years sweeping away key opponents in the army, and now he is able to use the reform as a tool to root out other political opponents,” Wong said, referring to former top brass such as Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou who were implicated in Xi’s anti-graft drive. “Xi had referred to the US military model, which is so far the strongest one in the world, to try to turn the PLA into a modern army, but his goal is to further control the army and consolidate his power and the Communist Party’s control of the gun.” In the CMC statement, Xi urged the PLA to maintain “correct political direction”, and said the party had absolute leadership of the armed forces. READ MORE: The radical plan to turn China’s People’s Liberation Army into a modern fighting force The Central Military Commission should be empowered to have supreme authority over both administration and command of the PLA, he said. Shanghai-based naval expert Ni Lexiong said Xi had no time to wait because the United States was challenging China’s territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea by sending its warships near to Beijing’s artificial islands. “Xi was pushed into introducing the military overhaul so urgently because of [American] provocation in the South China Sea,” he said. The CMC said it would encourage cooperation between civil and military bodies, and open the defence industry to the private sector.