Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered the military to “prepare for war.” The Chinese nation’s military group that monitors the South China Sea and Taiwan are bracing for a bloody conflict over rising tensions with Taiwan, which also comes amongst a trade war with the United States that’s threatening to crumble the global economy.
The Chinese president was quoted as saying it has become necessary to prepare for a war. “It’s necessary to strengthen the mission […] and concentrate preparations for fighting a war,” according to the Chinese president, who was quoted by state broadcaster CCTV on Thursday during an inspection of the Southern Theatre Command (one of the five war zones of China’s People’s Liberation Army) in Guangdong province. According to Sputnik News, Xi added: “We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises, and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war!”
The Chinese military’s war preparations appear to be in direct response to Taiwan’s insistence on also bracing for a military conflict with the large communist nation. Beijing’s extensive territorial claims in the waters, which include islands, banks, reefs, and maritime ways, are challenged by Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, and Taiwan.
“We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises, and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war,” Xi added, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported Friday. On Thursday, during the Xiangshan Forum‘s opening ceremony, Wei Fenghe, China’s minister of defense and a State Council member, noted that “China will take decisive steps regardless of the cost to preserve its territorial integrity and repel attempts to separate Taiwan from the country.”
Tensions between China and Taiwan are compounded by skyrocketing tensions between Beijing and Washington as well. Not only is the trade war amplifying political issues, but Washington has been approving arms deals with Taipei at a much faster pace than under Barack Obama and George W Bush. Meanwhile, the self-ruled island has been making public U.S. military movements near the Taiwan Strait and that information that would not have been released under previous U.S. administrations
According to Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Xi’s comments were most likely intended to stress Beijing’s territorial claims in the contested regions, according to Sputnik News‘ report. “It’s likely intended as a signal to the US in particular and any parties that Beijing perceives to be causing provocation [in the disputed waters],” Koh said, SCMP reported.