I came across a new book on China's naval history, 'A History of the Modern Chinese Navy, 1840–2020' by Bruce A. Elleman, Professor at the US Naval War College. Checking out the preview available through Google Books, even an untutored Anglo such as myself can detect a certain slant to the writing, however what most piqued my interest was the author's claim that the North/East/South fleet system was principally created to keep power fragmented and minimise the threat of a military coup:
Fairly accurate I'd say? I'm certainly not a naval historian though so no more knowledgeable but these are historic facts.
All of this was before the establishment of the PRC though. While they keep fleets in separate categories no different to the Russians or USN today, I do not think the same concerns of coup or mutiny exist in the CCP. Pre CCP China and post CCP China are night and day, along with their circumstances. Early 20th century China was extremely fragmented. After all there was a civil war between several competing factions right before WW2.
Suggesting that history is causing the modern PLAN to be guarded in a similar vein and against a similar concern would be like suggesting the American civil war means that even in 2022, there is a chance southern soldiers may organise into a coup against northern (and I suppose eastern or western seaboard) political leadership.
I would assume the PLAN today is thoroughly integrated and the command structure is quite different from 1800s and early 1900s China. That was a very different time, poverty and corruption far more prevalent (behaviour and allegiance of soldiers in question), and two countries removed from today's PRC China. Literally two countries removed at least. Imperial China (setting of the piece) -> warring factions -> KMT China (ROC) -> warring factions -> People's Republic of China.
Not sure if the author carried all that over to modern PLAN since the excerpt offered doesn't make it clear. Maybe that was his intention but that's great if US military policy makers actually believe their own delusions and are high on their own supply. I think actual American policy makers may be a little more balanced and unbiased when assessing these things though. They are not idiots and typically do not believe one dimensional think tank analysis. I mean equating the command structure and all the social dynamics of pre civil war China to today's is quite a stretch.