Chinese President Xi Jinping on 26 May directed the People’s Liberation Army (army of China) and the state police to strengthen the training of troops and be ready for war even as his country is still struggling to cope with the impact of coronavirus disease (COVID), which has now affected its army too.
Chinese media reports controlled by the permanently ruling communist party of the country reported that the president had said that it was important to “comprehensively strengthen the training of troops and prepare for war”, “resolutely safeguard national sovereignty” and “safeguard the overall strategic stability of the country”.
Xi, 66 who is also the general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CCP) and head of the two-million-strong military with prospects of lifelong tenure in power, delivered this speech while attending a plenary meeting of the delegation of the PLA and People’s Armed Police Force during the current parliament session being held here.
Xi Jinping ordered the military to think about the worst-case scenario. He urged the soldiers and cops to scale up training and battle preparedness, promptly and effectively deal with all sorts of complex situations and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The comment of Xi Jinping assumes significance in the backdrop of the nearly 20-day standoff between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LoAC). Several areas along the LAC in Ladakh and North Sikkim have witnessed major military build-up by both the Indian and Chinese armies recently. This is a clear signal of escalating tension and hardening of respective positions by the two sides even two weeks after they were engaged in two separate face-offs.
Equally important is the fact that China has asked its nationals working in Chinese companies in India to return home. This looks like a preparation of war too.
The nearly 3,500-km-long LoAC is the de facto border between the two countries.
The strongly-worded speech of Xi Jinping coincided with a series of “unverified” photographs and videos being uploaded on Chinese social media platforms showing Beijing’s second aircraft carrier — the country’s first indigenously built one — leaving its shipyard for a sail on Monday.
“The move, if verified, will mark the aircraft carrier, the Shandong’s first known voyage in five months since being commissioned in December and later returning to the shipyard for maintenance,” a state media report said.
Separately, a military spokesperson said yesterday that a moderate and steady increase in the nation’s defence expenditure was right, proper, and necessary.
China had announced last week its annual defence budget growth target at 6.6%, as compared to 7.5% last year.
China has both economic and military development in mind and national defence should be developed in coordination with economic development, said Wu Qian, PLA spokesperson. Beijing’s homeland security and overseas interests are also facing some real threats, Wu added.