China’s state run media revealed on Thursday that President Xi Jinping has assumed the role of commander-in-chief of the Chinese military, a position that is seen by many to be a purely symbolic and political acceptance of the military control he already asserted.

It is also likely that the position represents the nation’s recent attempts to rapidly develop into a technically sophisticated military. The role of commander-in-chief would then be an attempt to create a military with a quicker response time similar to that of the US, as opposed to the old Soviet style which China used to have.

When the announcement was made by state media on Thursday the president appeared in full military fatigues, a decision that has been interpreted as show of strength meant to communicate his new control to the nations neighbours who have been contesting China’s total control of the South China Sea.

China’s claim to the sea contradicts the claims of The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. The region is a hotspot of world trade that sees $5 trillion USD shipped through it every year.